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Multiculturalism Introduction Why does the nation need multiculturalism? The term multiculturalism provokes ambiguity and misunderstanding. It wasnt unambiguous during the time it first came into existence, and, when became the subject of heated debates, it gained, probably, the most conflicting, sometimes mutually exclusive meanings, from communitarian criticism of liberalism to ethnocentric and racial-centrically motivated isolationism, from the leftist ideology of subversion in relation to existing structures of the sway to neo-conservative postmodernism. Undertaking an attempt to explore the issue of multiculturalism, and being the researchers, it is impossible to attach a single meaning to the term multiculturalism, and prohibit using all the other meanings and contexts. However, the only thing possible to do is to take a stand on multiculturalism and to draw an elementary distinction between the two levels of subject matter: social reality and the discourse related to the given reality. Never so these realities are closely interwoven with each other, it is very important to make a difference between the public issues, and the ideological reflection of these issues.
The paper analyzes the issue of multiculturalism and allows that culturally pluralistic and multicultural society should be examined as liberal and democratic process. To do this requires to refuse from anti 0 liberal and anti-democratic connotations often associated with the concept of multiculturalism. The logic of the given paper is based on this assumption. The paper analyzes the discourse of multiculturalism and political project, closely related to the concept, than it undertakes the attempt to rehabilitate the policy of multiculturalism, and, finally, discusses the possibility of further successful implementing this policy into life in the modern world. Multiculturalism in the capacity of political project To a certain extent it may be said that multiculturalism is some sort of rhetoric renovation of elder issues, as it is often being explored as renaming the elder processes, which were comprehended in terms of ethical renaissance.
Culture as category replaced the category ethnicity as it offered wider and more liberal wording for the description of conflicting modern society. When the adepts of multiculturalism shut their eyes to structural issues of modern societies and brought to the fore cultural problems (or, rather, were recoding structural problems into cultural ones) (Gordon, 1996), they accepted either to romanticize and moralize social reality, or to refuse from analytical strictness of judgment (characteristic feature of postmodernism). The instrumental character of multiculturalism policies (also the policies of differences) was also taken into account. Even in the countries, where multiculturalism was proclaimed the official policy (e. g. Canada and Australia) (Weiner, 1992), the very fact of implementation of the multiculturalism policy was dictated mostly by functional reasons.
For example, in Canada multiculturalism was accepted because of the potential danger or Quebec separatism. When Canadian authorities proclaimed the main aim of their government to create multicultural (but not multinational) society, on the one hand they tried to neutralize secessionism trending of Quebec, and, on the other hand (Weiner, 1992), to mollify concerned English-speaking majority about national and territorial integrity of the country. What concerns Australia, the implementation of multiculturalism policy was primarily caused by the scarcity of immigration inflow in the country by the early 70 s, which could result in unfavorable consequences for demographic and economic situation of the country. The popularity of multicultural rhetoric in the United States may be explained by such peculiarity of American public discourse like lack of attention to social and class stratification, and the tendency to reduce public discrepancies to the discrepancies of mentalities (Gitlin, 1995). To a certain extent it may explain some sort of hyperbolical importance attached to harmonization, consensus, and mutual understanding, to mention a few. The instrumental character of multicultural discourse may be also supported by Germany and its attempts to adopt multicultural policy.
According to the researchers (Gordon, 1996), the representatives of industrial capital became the first propagandists of multiculturalism, as they were concerned with worsening situation at the local labor market (caused by insufficient inflow of labor force). Sociologists often discuss methodological incongruity and theoretical issues related to the concepts of multiculturalism and multicultural society. What are the main features of multicultural society, or the society with many cultures? As far as culture is some sort of symbolic system peculiar to a certain society, and is codified in the society's institutions, the very fact of many cultures being present in the given society becomes quite problematic issue.
In case different social groups are the bearers of specific and independent cultures, it seems it should be better exploring not the aspects of multicultural society, but rather the fact that different cultures coexist within a specific country. The culture, among other things, such as codification in the society's institutions, also implies a specific system of knowledge. Now, it is difficult to understand whether it is possible to dwell on plenitude of cultures, in case their representatives (due to common system of education and common system of communication) share the same system of knowledge. It seems that the adepts of multiculturalism prefer using the term culture where, in fact, it should be spoken about sub-cultures (Glazer, 1988). Besides, multiculturalism is identical to the ethnicity and culture, as it implies (by default) that diverse ethical loyalty means diverse cultural loyalty. To a certain extent it may be especially true of traditional societies, but cannot be applied to the modern industrial and post-industrial societies.
It is quite obvious that the concept of culture, as it is used by multicultural ists, serves compensatory function, where social groups deprived of any power (for example, immigrants in the first and the second generations) are endowed with a specific creativity as they are the bearers of special culture. Probably, it may be flattering for specific representatives of these ethnic groups, but, in fact, changes nothing in their actual situation in economical and political hierarchy. Furthermore, this aspect should be examined as it has relation to yet another negative feature, which is often attributed to the ideology of multiculturalism. There is an opinion that multiculturalism is conductive to racialization and ethnization (Rex, 1995) of public discourse.
According to some sociologists, interpreting social-and-class and social-and-group differences in racial and ethnic terms, multiculturalism consolidates the positions of discrimination in the modern society. By doing this, multiculturalism deepens ghettoization of minorities. It also reinterprets the discrepancies in social, economic, political, and regional interests into the discrepancies of ethical and confessional origins. In such a way, multiculturalism is conductive to ethnization of social conflicts, and makes them to remain an undecidable problem (Rex, 1995). No wonder that multiculturalism (although it was originally met with sympathy by liberal society) soon lost its credit of confidence.
It is very important to make a difference in the context of subject matter concerning cultural pluralism. One of the contexts sets its value by so-called immigration countries, while another one is set up by national governments. Although this difference seems to lose its original meaning, it still retains its validity within its discourse level. For example, Europeans still consider that temporary workers (immigrants) enter EU countries on a temporary basis, while immigration countries consider migration to have permanent and legal residence as its primary aim. The very 1990 s, when the quantity of immigrants in EU countries and Switzerland exceeded 18 million people (not taking into account those immigrants, who have been already considered as assimilated, or naturalized, e. g.
those, who have already admitted to the citizenship), and when the immigrants inflow made up 2 million people per year, should have shattered this illusion (Gordon, 1996). Nevertheless, Europeans (both in public opinion and in thinking of political elite) still have traditional idea about the national government that emerged in result of self-expression of a specific ethical and cultural substance, and, correspondingly, treat migration in capacity of unavoidable evil. At the same time, different governments (immigration and national governments) have different attitude concerning cultural diversity as a product of immigration. For example, immigration government determines the issue of immigrants integration in society by means of discussions concerning the minorities rights (e.
g. descendants of Africa slaves in the U. S. , Canadian and American Indians, Australian aborigines, etc. ). The attempts to restore justice in relation to these minorities resulted in affirmative action policies. However, it is believed that affirmative action didnt bring desired outcomes and, namely, integration of minorities into political society. In result, the situation was not very comforting: segregation of society by ethnic and racial belonging not only failed to occur, but became almost voluntary.
The leaders and activists belonging to racial and ethnic minorities, who strived for stylization of life and style differences under fundamental and cultural differences, deepened the gap and segmentation of the modern society by ethical-racial and ethical-linguistic attributes (e. g. hostels for Asian immigrants only, reexamination of humanitarian educational programs and courses in educational institutions, where European culture should be studied in proportion to Indian and other ethical culture, etc). The next step in the same direction was undertaken by neo-conservatives (WASP) (Gitlin, 1995). Yesterdays opponents of multiculturalism changed their minds and became supporters. However, the activists belonging to racial and ethnic minorities and white neo-conservatives had much in common: both seemed to forget the ideals of civil society, and preferred ideology where the civil society was broken into an endless plenitude of mutually isolated cultural segments.
That is the reason that the discourse of multiculturalism (at least as it became popular in the United States) gradually gained distinctly negative connotation. Multiculturalism Today Yet, no matter how doubtful the policy of multiculturalism promotion seems to be from theoretical point of view, or how ambivalent multicultural seems to be by its practical outcomes, there is no reasonable alternative to this policy. The attempt to refuse from the policies of differences for coercive sameness would inevitably lead to unprecedented growth of social tension. Therefore, this possibility should never be considered (especially in immigration countries). It is also symptomatic, that national Western European countries also gradually refuse from assimilation paradigm and adhere to the policy of cultural pluralism (multiculturalism). Western European countries examined multicultural discourse rather as the product of intellectual import that something created by local conditions.
As far as European countries historically had no repressive practice and policy in relation to the minorities (like black slavery in the Southern American States, or unlawful homicide of indigenous Australian population), these countries had no need to invent affirmative action to restore justice. The categories justice, policies of differences, national identities, acceptance, and many others, which are often used during public debates held by immigration countries are not peculiar to Western European discussions (Gitlin, 1995). On contrary, cultural diversity in these countries had almost no public articulation during the relatively long period of time. While some sociologists considered that migrants (since they intend to become a part of political community (nation) ) should undergo the process of cultural assimilation (for example, in France).
In the other cases the countries supposed (by default) that migrants are guests and foreigners, who soon should leave the country and come back to their native territories; therefore, the issue of social and public inclusion should not be taken into account at all (e. g. in Germany). So, what is the main issue related to the policy of multiculturalism? A question is raised as to whether the integration of immigrants may not be attended by assimilation. There is an opinion that assimilation and integration are the necessary prerequisites for the immigrants to become an integral part of political community.
At the same time, it should be taken into consideration that host countries are no longer able to assimilate immigrants, and migrants are no longer want to assimilate. The necessity of fostering multiculturalism is inspired by the following reasons: Ethical and demographic. The quantity of newly arrived people, constituting migration minorities, is so large that the community is unable to melt it (as it was successfully done with relatively small and separate population groups of immigrants). The very term minority loses its meaning as immigrant population in the modern cities can be comparable to the local population by its quantity. For example, non-white population (including local African Americans) made up 73. 2 % in the mid- 1990 s (Washington), 83. 7 % in Detroit, and 90. 7 % in Miami. The same can be said about Canadian cities, such as Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, where 50 - 75 % of population is of non-British and non-French origin.
Practical and political. Immigrants objectively have fewer social and economical opportunities compared to the native population. Social inclusion is often accompanied by difficulties due to cultural distance between the immigrants and locals (poor knowledge of English language, behavioral skills, and moral and religious values, to mention a few). Therefore, in case the government in fact strives for integration of immigrants, and is unable to accept the situation where the immigrants are subjected to ghettoization (and with it marginalization, criminalization, etc), it should provide real equality of opportunities. The suggested measures should include protection of social and cultural rights of immigrants.
Humanitarian reasons. Democratic government implies protection of individual rights and freedoms, including freedom of conscience, religion, and opportunity to freely express ones opinion. As far as the vast majority of immigrants in its confessional and linguistic relation is different from local inhabitants, multiculturalism suggests that manifestation of immigrants cultural identity should get public expression (associations, primary education in native language, ethnic press, etc). Multicultural society has no dominant culture.
The concept of culture should not be identical to ethno's. Multicultural society offers its members the right to choose their own cultural samples. Cultural diversity is not ethnic diversity alone. It comprises of diversity of life styles, cultural orientations and tendencies. Multiculturalism consists of no parallel existing of autonomous identities, but in their cooperation, mutual transformation and interaction. Therefore, the heart of multiculturalism in democratic society forms general communication space, which is above-ethical.
Finally, the government cannot reply on successful process of transformation of immigrants into full-pledged members of society, in case it is not acknowledges (at least, partially) the right of being different, or, to put it differently, right of identity. References Castles, S. (1992). Mistaken Identity: Multiculturalism and the Demise of Nationalism in Australia. Sydney. Gitlin, T. (1995). The Twilight of Common Dreams: Why America is Wracked by Culture Wars.
New York. Glazer, N. (1988). Ethnic Dilemmas 1964 - 82. Cambridge. Gordon, A. (1996).
Mapping Multiculturalism. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press. Rex, J. N. (1995). Multiculturalism in Europe and America. Nations and Nationalism, 1 (2), 243 - 259.
Weiner, G. (1992). Multiculturalism: The Canadian Experience. The Journal of Ethno-Development, 1 (2), 3 - 9.
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