DEFINING MULTICULTURALISM RESPONSES TO DIVERSITY Societies may respond to the fact of cultural diversity in a variety of ways, not all of which involve an acceptance of the idea of diversity. There are mainly 5 ways: Isolationism Assimilationism
Apartheid Weak multiculturalism Strong multiculturalism ISOLATIONISM Isolationism try to prevent any kind of cultural diversity from emerging by excluding outsiders, particularly if the outsiders are different (e.g. Australia and Japan). A good example of isolationism is
the White Australia Policy that came into being with the first Act of the Commonwealth Parliament, the Immigration Act of 1901. ASSIMILATIONISM Assimilationism admits outsiders but in order to assimilate them into the existing society. This is a policy that seeks to acculturate, or better to assimilate to a dominant culture, newcomers (France) or minority nations within a multiethnic empire (Soviet Union). In every multicultural society there is always a certain degree of assimilation because of the human tendency to conformity
APARTHEID Apartheid aims to forbid outsiders, independently from the fact they are a minority group or majority one, to assimilate to a particular culture to any degree. Originally apartheid was a system of racial segregation in South Africa enforced through legislation by the National Party (NP) that ruled the country from 1948 until 1994 . By extension, the term is currently used for forms of systematic segregation established by the state authority in a country against the social and civil rights of a certain group of citizens due to some kind of prejudices (often racial).Apartheid can be seen also as internal isolationism. WEAK MULTICULTURALISM Weak multiculturalism can be described as the most
tolerant regime since it will accept even those who are opposed to it. The presence of different cultures or traditions is tolerated, even if they do not themselves embrace or sympathize with liberalism or liberal values. At the same time, however, it will not give special protection or advantages to any particular group or community. It will not deter anyone from pursuing particular goals or from trying to sustain particular traditions. Yet neither will it promote others, or subsidise ones that are specially preferred. STRONG MULTICULTURALISM Some thinkers believe that weak multiculturalism is implausible because it does not maintain a strong enough commitment to values that are
central to liberalism. Although sometimes their positions are very far from each other, supporters of strong multiculturalism state that government should actively support and protect minorities by giving them group-differentiated rights and removing social, economical and cultural obstacles. WHAT IS MULTICULTURALISM? Multiculturalism can be defined as a body of thought in political philosophy about the proper way to respond to cultural and religious diversity. This term is often used to indicate mere toleration toward minorities within a society, but toleration is often inadequate to guarantee an equal treatment
of all citizens WHAT DOES MULTICULTURALISM CLAIM? Multiculturalism aims to revalue disrespected minorities and cultural identities different from the dominant one Language, religion and self-determination are the main multicultural claims, while issues of race or ethnicity play a less important role.
Claims for recognition in the context of multicultural education are demands not just for recognition of aspects of a group's actual culture (e.g. African American art and literature) but also for the history of group subordination and its concomitant experience. GROUP-DIFFERENTIATED RIGHTS It is a term used by Will Kymlicka in his essay Multicultural citizenship (1995) in which the Canadian scholar identifies 3 kind of group-differentiated rights: Self-government Polyethnic Special
rights rights representation rights SELF-GOVERNMENT RIGHTS Mainly they concern national minorities that are inclined to demand political autonomy or territorial jurisdiction in order to develop in the best way their culture. The most common mechanism for recognizing this right is federalism which divides powers between central government and local subunits (state, provinces ecc). Although this form of self-government right is possible only where national minorities are regionally concentrated (e.g. Quebec or Soviet Republics). Another example of self-government rights are Indian
reservations but this make national minorities more vulnerable since their self government powers do not have the same constitutional protection as states rights. POLYETHNIC RIGHTS These rights are often claimed by immigrant groups. At first these groups demanded not to abandon completely their cultural heritage and the possibility to express their particularity without fearing prejudice or discrimination in the society. Later these demands have expanded in important ways. The main rights claimed by immigrant groups are: Public funding of their cultural practices (education in minorities languages, museums, ethnic and cultural studies)
Exemptions from laws and regulations that disadvantage them because of their religious practices (e.g. the right of wearing the headscarves in public school for French Muslim girls) SPECIAL REPRESENTATION RIGHTS In many Western countries the political system fails to represent the diversity of the population. Such categories as women, ethnic racial and national minorities, the poor and the disabled are systematically underrepresented. In fact legislatures are very often dominated by middle-class, able-bodies, white men. In this case the goal of multicultural policy should be making political parties more inclusive by reducing the barriers (e.g. representation quotas) that inhibit disadvantaged categories from becoming party candidates or leader. However, the issue of special representation rights for groups is
complicated, because special representation is sometimes defended, not on grounds of oppression, but as a corollary of self-government. A minority's right to self-government would be severely weakened if some external body could unilaterally revise or revoke its powers. JUSTIFICATIONS FOR MULTICULTURALISM Communitarian though Liberal egalitarian though Postcolonial though COMMUNITARIAN
This justification for multiculturalism arises out the communitarian critique of liberalism. Liberals insist that everybody is free to purse his own conception of good life. They give primacy to individual rights and liberties over common good. Communitarians assert the opposite: the common good and community are prior to individual freedoms. This holist view of collective identities and cultures underlies Charles Taylor's normative case for a multicultural politics of recognition. The recognition of the equal worth of diverse cultures requires replacing the traditional liberal regime of identical liberties and opportunities for all citizens with a scheme of special rights for minority cultural groups. LIBERAL EGALITARIAN Liberal egalitarian though consider the culture to be important to individuals for two reasons:
Individual autonomy. Culture provides the social scripts and narrative from which one fashion his own life. This gives individuals an adequate range of options from which to choose. Culture tells us who we are. Second, culture is instrumentally valuable for individual self-respect. There is a deep and general connection between a person's self-respect and the respect accorded to the cultural group of which she is a part. Consequently members of minority groups, who are disadvantaged in terms of access to their own cultures (in contrast to members of the majority culture) are entitled to special protections. Moreover cultural or linguistic advantage can translate into economic and political advantage since
members of the dominant cultural community are advantaged in schools, the workplace, and politics POSTCOLONIAL Postcolonial scholars have looked beyond liberalism in arguing multiculturalism. They focus on what is owed to Native peoples for the historical injustices perpetrated against them. Reckoning with history is crucial. Proponents of indigenous sovereignty emphasize the importance of understanding indigenous claims against the historical background of the denial of equal sovereign status of indigenous groups, the dispossession of their lands, and the destruction of their cultural practices. This background calls into question the legitimacy of the state's authority over aboriginal peoples and provides a prima facie case for special rights and protections for indigenous groups, including the right of self-government. Moreover postcolonial multicultural thought argues that the liberal theory cannot provide an impartial framework governing relations between
different cultural communities (2000). Liberal society's constitutional and legal values serve as the initial starting point for cross-cultural dialogue while also being open to contestation. CRITIQUE OF MULTICULTURALISM Cosmopolitan Classical view of culture liberal critique Diversion from a politics of redistribution
Egalitarian Problem objection of vulnerable internal minorities COSMOPOLITAN VIEW OF CULTURE Some critics of multiculturalism assert that cultures are not distinct, self-contained wholes; they have long interacted and influenced one another through war, imperialism, trade, and migration. Therefore people in many parts of the world live within cultures that are already cosmopolitan, characterized by cultural hybridity. To aim at preserving or protecting a culture
runs the risk of privileging one allegedly pure version of that culture, thereby crippling its ability to adapt to changes in circumstances. Moreover this critique of multiculturalism also rejects the premise that the options available to an individual must come from a particular culture; meaningful options may come from a variety of cultural sources. What people need are cultural materials, not access to a particular cultural structure. CLASSICAL LIBERAL CRITIQUE A second major criticism of multiculturalism is based on the ideas of liberal toleration and freedom of association and conscience defending the individual's right to form and leave associations and not any special protections for groups. According to this view there are no group rights, only individual rights. By granting cultural groups special protections and rights, the state oversteps its role, which is to secure civility,
and risks undermining individual rights of association. The major limitation of this approach is that groups that do not themselves value toleration and freedom of association (including the right to dissociate or exit a group) may practice internal discrimination against group members and the state would have little authority to interfere in such associations. DIVERSION FROM A POLITICS OF REDISTRIBUTION A third line of critique contends that multiculturalism is a politics of recognition that diverts attention from a politics of redistribution Politics of recognition challenges status inequality and the remedy it seeks is cultural and symbolic change.
Politics of distribution challenges economic inequality and exploitation and the remedy it seeks is economic restructuring. Critics worry that multiculturalism's focus on culture and identity diverts attention from or even actively undermines the struggle for economic justice for two reasons: identity-based politics may undermine potential multiracial, multiethnic class solidarity some multiculturalists tend to focus on cultural injustice without much
attention to economic injustice EGALITARIAN OBJECTION A fourth objection takes issue with liberal multiculturalist's understanding of what equality requires. In this view religious and cultural minorities should be held responsible for bearing the consequences of their own beliefs and practices. Brian Barry contrasts religious and cultural affiliations with physical disabilities and argues that the former do not constrain people in the way that physical disabilities do. A physical disability supports a strong prima facie claim to compensation because it limits a person's opportunities to engage in activities that others are able to engage in. In contrast, religion and culture may shape one's willingness to seize an opportunity, but they do not affect whether one has an opportunity. Barry argues that justice is only concerned with ensuring a reasonable range of equal opportunities and not with
ensuring equal access to any particular choices or outcomes THE PROBLEM OF VULNERABLE INTERNAL MINORITIES A final objection argues that extending protections to minority groups may come at the price of reinforcing oppression of vulnerable members of those groups. Some have called this phenomenon the problem of internal minorities or minorities within minorities. This is because some ways of protecting minority groups from oppression by the majority may make it more likely that more powerful members of those groups are able to undermine the basic liberties and opportunities of vulnerable members. Vulnerable subgroups within minority groups include religious dissenters, sexual minorities, women, and children. This is a genuine dilemma if one accepts both that group-differentiated rights for minority cultural groups are justifiable, as multicultural
theorists do, and that gender equality is an important value
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