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Multicultural diversity Essays

Multicultural Diversity

Introduction

Multiculturalism is a name given by the activists who purport that they are trying to get justice for the communities that are in minority and those that are marginalizes .Its critics call it political correctness as it is seen by them as a politics of coercion which sentimentalizes issues to gain cheap popularity. Pluralistic societies are not modern phenomena rather it has existed from time immemorial. Diversity and difference are natural .The contemporary times have seen that there is an increased awareness in the minority community for preservation of their distinct culture .The process of nation building and minority rights are sometimes posited as the being at loggerheads with each other. There has been an increased trend with the western democracies in accepting the rights and demands of different kinds of communities that have lesser numbers. There is process of assimilation which respect for the unique mores and modes of different cultures that is underway. The way to measure whether government  are giving minorities their rights are peace ,democracy  individual freedom prosperity and the fact that they are given equal rights .The minority are not forcefully silenced but are given freedom to dissent is the foremost indicator of whether in a multicultural society all the constituent groups are peacefully co-existing. The process of recognition of the rights of diverse communities living in one nation has begun but a lot is still left .Even in western democracies which claim that they are the harbingers of this new revolution a lot has to be done in case Afro-Americans in America, guest workers in northern Europe, illegal immigrants in southern Europe and indigenous communities in Australasia, Scandinavia and Americas (Kymlicka, 2001).

The affects of multicultural diversity

Managing the multicultural diversity has always been a challenge for the government. Multicultural diversity and the problems which stem from this issue are the result of various factors which influence this phenomenon. However, it is a known fact that the main factor which fostered the spread of multicultural diversity is globalization. Internet, media etc all have contributed to the growth of multicultural diversity. The second factor which can be blamed for this spread is westernization. The western culture, language and ways of living are considered to be more modern and hip. People have adapted western products, trends and even language, which is considered to be the basis of any culture. This westernization is also pushed by the wage differences among the countries. Immigrant workers from other countries seek the opportunity of a god pay scale, and migrate to the western countries. For example; people from all over the world go to America and England for better employment opportunities. Hence we can see that not only media, communication, technology and advancements in transportation have led to this cultural diversification, but there are many other indirect factors which have fostered this change.

The last decade has noticed a lot of changes in context to minority be it cultural, linguistic or religious minority, rights. Before, rulers were unable to recognize the moral and logical grounds on which these minorities present their demands. It was more of a philosophical debate. However, today after so many years of neglect, the minority rights have now become important. The main reason for this important is the increased pressure by international independent organizations on the human rights etc. Another important reason is globalization (Kymlica, 2001).

Globalization is one phenomenon which has spread with light speed in the past decades. Minorities, who were unaware of their existence, are now fighting for their rights. Many of them are even able to autonomously rule these states in a federal government.

Multicultural diversification has led to many social movements. These movements demand equal addition of the minority cultures, religion and ethnic groups in the society. They not only demand equal inclusion, but also recognition of their culture and ideas as a separate area. These movements believe that the government of the particular country always supports its own culture, which is unjust. Countries like Canada have been made by immigrants and it is the right of every culture to have its own presence and identity over there.

The biggest disadvantage associated with multiculturalism is the fact that it alienates people. Due to the realization of belonging to a different culture aggravates these differences even more. Even though multiculturalism might look like a simple phenomenon, however it can sometimes disturb the peace of any country and lead to riots. Multiculturalism can deeply affect the politics of any country too. The creation of street gangs on the basis of ethnicity is usually more in the countries where multiculturalism persists. An increase in the crime rate is often interpreted as an increase in the multiculturalism factor.

Multiculturalism might bring in a lot of unwanted elements in the society; however it also brings in many good factors. Multiculturalism has definitely helped in preserving the cultures and traditions of various ethnic, cultural and religious groups. There are many good things in every culture, and adapting the good things in each can help the society as a whole. Critics however believe that it is multiculturalism which has led to deterioration in the society. For example; the entire family system of America has come to a stand stop. Families are not living together, as soon as a child turn 18 he leaves his parents, there are more single parents and more divorces each year. Critics believe that the main reason for this deterioration is multiculturalism.

Multicultural diversity in nation states

            Managing the multicultural diversity and the problems associated with it is not an easy task. Government sets out various rules and laws every time in order to control the factors affecting the politics and democracy of the country. The local government always takes cultural diversity as a challenge. Many people term this sociological phenomenon as a “methodological nationalism” (Glick-Schiller and Wimmer 2003; Wimmer 2002).

            The notion of nation state is comparatively a modern concept which assimilates the political governance of a geographical territory with the collective identity of its citizens. Most modern states are practicing democracies or trying to reach the ideals of a democratic nation state. It enjoins that the individuals living in a geographical boundary are granted rights as they are citizens of that country and in turn they have some duties towards that nation. There is reciprocal relationship between the state and the individual, which can be best summarized by the rights of citizenship (Brubaker n.d; Hanagan & Tilly 1999).

            The classical model of citizenship was based on marginalization of minorities and imposition of the culture and language of the majority community. The nation state worked on the premise that the homogenization of all the ethnic diversity was needed to maintain peace and prosperity of the nation. The claims of the ethnically diverse communities were silenced and they had to live in subjugation. Contemporary politics has started giving increasing importance to culturally diverse communities. They have become more and more vocal about their rights to preach and practice their ideologies and culture. This has led to conflict among cultures in a various nation states consequently many nations have formulated anti discriminatory laws to protect the rights of the minorities. Immigration has been a contributing factor in recognition of the idea of respect for diverse cultures in various countries like Australia, Canada, and Sweden. The earlier exploitative laws have been replaced by those that grant justice and recognition to diverse communities (Castles 1995; Inglis 1996; Alexander 2001).

The basic problem that faces the recognition of human rights of multicultural societies is that how it is going to affect the solidarity and sovereignty of the nation. Countries with post colonial past have achieved this transition from the dominance of one community’s influence in the political, economic and social spheres to promulgation laws recognizing that the minorities are equal in the eyes of law (Habermas 1998).

Management of multicultural diverse communities has always been the centre of controversies (Gutmann, 1994; Tully 1995). Moreover, most of the debate surrounding the question of rights of minorities and the preservation of solidarity of a nation are philosophical in nature they are not grounded in reality. Sometimes it seems that the rights of ethnic diversity has been infringed upon but the practicality of the situation demands that measures are needed in which the preservation of a nation supersedes the rights of its citizens (Wieviorka, 2001). The debates on these multicultural diversity issues are based on two basic ideas. The first and the important question is how these differences can be reconciled with the thought that these steps will help in maintaining the democracy of the nation state. At this point it is important to note that the success of these steps is dependent on how well the local government manages this issue. The government has to set out policies which let the society as a whole, work towards the prosperity of the entire nation. In setting out policies the government should also keep in mind the needs and demands of the various cultures which inhibit the place. Not being able to set out just policies for the multicultural diverse nation state will result in differences among these ethnic groups and will disturb the peace of the country. As mentioned before that these debates are more philosophical in nature and that these have to be constructed empirically and logically. Without this approach the answer of the multiculturalism problem cannot be related from one nation state to another (Wieviorka, 2001).

The response of government in the name of policies adapting more to the culturally diverse nation states has been mainly due to the accelerated process of globalization. This globalization has also ignited the human rights issue which was usually not discussed so much during the past half century (Soysal 1994; Jacobson 1996). After the World War II, the changes brought by human rights regimes have directly affected various policies and laws made by the government. Prior to World war II, any policies or laws made in any democratic state, did not acknowledge the existence of culturally diverse societies. One reason for this could be the fact that I was after the Second World War that the phenomenon of globalization began to take hold. Moreover, the existence of multicultural societies was minimal. With the advancements in technology, communications and transportation, people in every corner of the World have been able to identify opportunities beyond the geographical borders of their nation state. As people began to migrate more, proper immigration policies were set in order to accommodate the minorities. Today, proper policies have been set, laws have been made and articles define the promotion of identity of the minorities. Democratic governments all over the World take proactive measures in order to accommodate cultural, religious and ethnic minority rights.

Previously United Nations had specifically avoided the topic of discrimination against the minorities. None of the articles of UN had specifically mentioned their rights or the fact that multicultural diverse nation states should promote their minorities and give them equal rights. However, as the human rights debate picked up heat, the issue of minority rights also became important. The United Nations now clearly defines that the identity of minorities should be identified, promoted and protected (Symonides 1998). The United Nations adopted this change in an article in the 1990s. The article state;

“In those states in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language” (Article 27, UNHRC).

            The article of United Nations, mentioned above clearly defines the rights which the minorities can exercise. However, formerly this article was not stated specifically and had mentioned the minority rights in a rather ambiguous way. The United Nations human rights committee had later on commented on this article, that the government or any international organization cannot guarantee the promotion of minority’s culture. It depends on the ability of that cultural group itself. However the local government can only ensure that the minorities of that place are able to exercise their beliefs as any other non-minority culture (Article 27, UNHRC).

            Apart from ethnic diversity, another important type of diversity is linguistic diversity. Most multicultural countries adopt the language of he majority community as their official language. Whereby, the languages of the minority communities is usually not allowed to be used in any publication are cannot be the basis of any political party formation. Moreover, as language is a very important element of any culture, therefore he government has very strong rules and regulations set out in order to protect the language of the majority, such as in France (Weber, n.p).

            Nowadays, with increased awareness about the rights of minorities there has been lot of movements which highlight that these communities are against the imposition of the language of the majority community. There has been revival of the languages of these communities and many of them have started using and strengthening their language as there is a new found pride in preservation of culture. Many governments of pluralistic nations have tried to resolve these seething dissents by declaring the states to have different official languages depending on the concentration of minorities present in that state. In a multicultural diverse community there has always been a politics of language. It is a commonly observed phenomenon that whichever community is in power, the language of that community gains eminence. The language of the majority community is used in education, official paperwork, employment and it becomes a signifier of elitism. This is evident in the case of English which despite being used by minority of the educated masses world wide is considered to be a symbol of privileged class. So, therefore we see that in most of the underdeveloped countries we see a trend of using English in its educational curriculums. Despite the fact that the students face a lot of problems understanding the subject as it is not their mother tongue. This phenomenon clearly illustrates the fact hat since the western ideology and culture is being followed throughout the world. The factors that have aided the prevalence of western culture is the fact that there has been rapid globalization and media has presented a glamorized version of the western society and culture. South Africa is country which has multiple languages and contrary to the fact that the constitution accommodates indigenous languages after apartheid. There has been a practical imposition of the two languages; English and Afrikaans.

In India, Hindi is the official language as Hindus are in majority. Muslims in India are the largest minority and even their language, which is Urdu, has been sidelined. However, the practically it is impossible to use all the languages in official works. Protection and promotion of linguistic rights of an individual is one of the components of human rights.

Any amount of international pressure and legal provisions which support the sustenance of an endangered and languages of the minority communities usually lack the power to be reinforced. Languages develop and are sustained when they are in use. Linguistic tensions are going to exist as the communities are becoming more and more aware of their rights.

            One more form of diversity is religious diversity. Religious diversity is one of the oldest forms of diversities. Formerly, nations were formed on the basis of religion. Even in Europe which is a modern nation, religion became the backbone of the formation of many nations. Like cultural and linguistic diversity, religious diversity can also take a violent form and disturb the peace of the country. Many people believe that this religious minority right is just a phenomenon of the east and that it is due to globalization that the west is also now participating in this. Some believe that religious pluralism leads to peace as none of the religion of the world allows their followers to be violent. Politics of religion has taken different forms and has gained importance in many countries (Anderson, 2003).

Ethnic movements

            One disadvantage associated with multicultural diversity is that if the rights of these minority cultures is not recognized and promoted, it can result in extreme minority rights movements. The challenge which the local government faces is usually more critical in case of territory based minority movements. If movements are not territory based than they can easily be solved by minor adjustments sometimes even in the policies of the country. However, territory based movements usually demand more than just ethnic recognition. These minorities usually demand secession.

            There are many studies which emphasize that these movements have grown more in number due to the phenomenon of globalization. Communities now know their rights and where they stand. They not only demand separate identity but sometimes also a separate state. With the advent of internet ad better communications technologies, people are now aware of their rights. With human rights activities taking hold after the world war, the minority movements have also been increasing. The minorities have strengthened their existence as now they know that they have rights which no one can deprive them of (Tsutsui, 2004). Not many researches have studied the ethno-national conflicts even though there have been many and had posed serious threat to the peace of the nation state. Managing multicultural diversity by the local government has been easy and difficult both. Sometimes the demands are such that it is difficult for the government to fulfill them. In such case the local government has to suppress any minority rights movement. If the demands of these minority activists are such that the government can fulfill them then the government grants the activist their demands. These can range from pluralistic policies, cultural autonomy etc (Ghai, 2002).

Management of multicultural diverse nations

The political institutions throughout the world have been facing the challenges of the demands of the culturally diverse communities that are living within the territorial boundaries of a nation as minorities. Globalization is one of the primary reasons for the awakening of the concept that the cultural, religious, linguistic and ethnic identity be respected and preserved. The increased economic prosperity and media has also played a role in the awakening of a kind of movement that calls for preservation of cultural distinctiveness rather than the homogenization of all the communities.

Marginalized communities can in an organized manner persuade the majority communities of their rights if the political system is strong and fair with passage of time. The democratic politics has some problem areas that is that the a just cause can be defeated as the it  depends on the public opinion and which at times can be unpredictable and can be swayed by gossips and charged speeches. The democratic process is being practiced in large part of the world as it is the most viable means to limit the rule of the despotic state of heads.

The Aggregative model of democracy interprets democracy as the sum total of the preferences of the majority of its citizens and therefore it is self evident that the minority ethnic  religious or linguistic groups preferences will be marginalized as they will always be lesser in numbers. The political parties who aspire(Young, 2002) the modern political theorist have tried to solve this problem by putting forth the deliberative model of democracy in which the individual parties try and put forth solutions to a problem and the one with the best solution and which can are supported by  reason and proofs are endorsed .In order to ensure that justice is done and the problem is redressed according to the hopes and aspirations of the affected parties it is imperatives that the communities affected by decision must be included.

One of the ideals of democracy is that there should be political equality. In a multicultural society all the communities affected by the decision should be included into the decision making process and that to on equal terms.

            Western societies have tried their level best to manage their multicultural diverse nation states. Formerly, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, such cultural or minority movements were not much recognized. Not much was discussed about human rights and not many people knew what minority rights were. However, there were always a few who wanted equal rights. The government usually took such movements very strictly and brutally. Movements were suppressed and people punished. Sometimes even if the minorities were right, their demands were not accepted and they were not given their rights.

Formerly, France also suppressed these minority movements. The minority languages; Basque and Breton were not allowed to be used in any publications. Moreover, these languages were not taught in schools and children were not allowed to use them there. Neither political association nor any kind of movement could promote these languages in France as they represented the minority community.  Britain also responded similarly to such movements. Welsh, could not be used anywhere in Britain as it also represented the minority community. Similarly, Canada also did not fulfill t he demands of the minorities and they were too suppressed in a rather ruthless way. The Quebecois were not able to form any kind of majority in any of Canada’s province. The Canadian government changed the political boundaries in such a way that the Quebecois were always in minority in every province. They were not given their language rights and could not use their language in any kind of institutions. Canada was rather strict in minority issues and the Aboriginals were also no able to form any kind of association. They could not promote their culture and not even practice their language in any area, political, educational or social. Canadian government made sure that none of the minorities were able to raise any voice for their rights. This forced the minorities to remain minorities in every province and not become a majority so that they were not able to present themselves politically. Presented politically meant they could do more for their culture and language and hence could dominate in the country. This could have been possible as the governments at that time did not want to give the minorities their distinct national identity. The governments at that time explained that the minorities which were given their rights eventually became strong and could ask for their own state. Succession movements usually began shortly after the minorities were able to promote their culture (Kymlica, 2001).

However, today the attitude of governments has changed a lot towards the minorities. The governments now try to fulfill and accommodate their demands and give them their rights. The nation states have to show that hey are democratic nations and that they believe in equal rights for everybody. One reason for this could be the increasing multicultural diverse countries. Many different minorities live together in countries like America, Canada, and England.

Canada eventually recognized Quebecois and gave them their rights. Canada had later on adopted federal system. In this system it made sure that the Quebecois ere able to represent themselves and promote their language. They were further given autonomy and were able to work for the betterment of their people. All the Scandinavian countries including Canada have now fulfilled many demands of the minorities they even let them self govern if they are native born.  Britain, Belgium and Spain have given regional autonomy to the minorities. Formerly, all of these countries had aim to remove and eliminate these minorities, cultural or religious. However today there is no such goal has been set. These minorities are now self governing states and are able to exercise their rights, promote their culture and language, and celebrate their festivals (Kymlica, 2001).

All of this reveals that the western countries have now identified that they are multicultural diverse nations. They are multi-nations and do not comprise of only one culture. These countries have also accepted that they have people within their geographical boundary, who have their own culture and tradition and therefore they should be given the right to self govern. Succession demands are still repressed however at lower level these communities are able to work in a manner that they are able to exercise their rights at the fullest without posing threat to the national integrity, sovereignty and unity. In order to get all this recognition in black and white, the government has it stated in the constitution (Kymlica, 2001).

As federal type of government helps the minorities have their own regional autonomy, therefore the minorities usually prefer federal type of government. Countries have now realized this and have changed towards this form of government. This not only protects the national government but gives appropriate rights to the minorities too.

Many countries have now come up with a new form of government in order to accommodate more the minorities. This is known as the ‘multinational federalism’. In this the political boundaries are made such that each minority is able to have its own community and governance. The idea is to circle the areas where any minority is in majority or is concentrated.

The United States has also given adequate rights to the minorities. There are many minorities who consider themselves as a nation within America. For example; Puerto Rico, Chamoros of Guam and the American Indians are all minority communities. The Blacks in America however have never demanded any thing separate, however they just wanted the government to take them as American nation.

Even though the United States might seem very liberal today, it used similar tactics which were used by many other westernized countries during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. For example; when America got hold of Puerto Rico, their Spanish language was banned. They were not able to use their own language in any area. Spanish schools were shut down and new and improved English medium schools were opened. No political party could be formed which let the Puerto Ricans exercise their rights. Similarly the Indians were also not given their rights and were not able to send their children to traditional Indian schools. Today the things have changed and these multicultural diverse nations now recognize minorities as nations within the country. They are not only given their rights but are also able to exercise complete autonomy (Kymlica, 2001).

Conclusion

Human behavior is determined by the social environment which surrounds him from the birth of his consciousness. This social environment in turn determined by the culture of that society.  Culture is a dynamic entity which is in continuous process of evolution due to various influences like globalization, multiculturalism, media etc. It is a set of ideas and perceptions that define an individual’s world view and it is a unique feature of human beings. Among the few things, that demarcate humans from animals is culture.

The rapid changes and advancement in the modern era has annihilated the concept of segregated cultural cosmos. The globalization has led to most societies to live in multicultural settings.

The coexistence of different cultures in one geographical locale is termed as multiculturalism in common parlance. However, formerly there was no such thing as multi-nation states. The countries considered themselves as one nation and had the goal of eliminating the rest of the minorities. Movements, riots and continuous disturbance in the peace made these countries realize that this was not the way to manage a multicultural diverse nation. They came up with a federal system which protected the national government and yet gave autonomy to each minority. In this way the minorities wee able to exercise their rights and the government was also able to do what was required.

The management of multicultural diverse nations by the local government might not be that easy, however with the cooperation of both the government and the minorities I can become a relatively simple and easy task. The minorities should see that they do not put forward any kind of demand which the government is not able to fulfill and the government should also see that it does not reject any demands which are just. All of these things are necessary for keeping peace and harmony in the country.

Today, the world is considered as a global village. People, minorities and communities are all aware of their rights. The entire articles of constitutions are present over the internet and hence people can have immediate access to the information. Therefore, in this modern era it is difficult not to consider the human rights or not let the minorities exercise their rights. The key issue in today’s politics is how to manage the multicultural diverse country. The main task of any local government is to first recognize every community, religious or ethnic minority and ensure that their minority rights will be given to them. Balancing this along with their participation in the country’s well being like any other majority ensures the peace and prosperity of that state. It should be noted that a suitable policy should be implemented which should be able to satisfy the linguistic, religious and cultural minorities. The government can always put forward a pluralistic policy which can easily ensure the sovereignty of the country as well as the minorities.

References

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