With the rise of trends towards the globalized world, the countries have become open welcoming people from all over the globe. Such openness could not but lead to the outbursts of migration and mixing of cultures. This issue is especially acute in the case of the developed states with higher standards of living and better conditions for employment, obtaining education, and self-expression. When a country is settled with people of mixed cultures, it means that it is multicultural. This phenomenon is known as multiculturalism. It is not long known but has already become a subject of fierce debates. Even though there is a standpoint that multiculturalism is a negative outcome of globalization, I do believe that the positive aspects of living in a multicultural state outweigh the negative ones.
First of all, it is vital to understand the essence of multiculturalism to detect its advantages and disadvantages. The origins of this phenomenon come from migration. It does not really matter what was the reason for it and whether it was forced or desired. The only thing that matters is that people moved from one country and settled down in another. The most significant feature of a multicultural country is not that its population consists of people who have different cultural backgrounds, but the fact that they are recognized and accepted. What is even more crucial is that the interests of minorities are represented in the institutions of power, these groups are integrated into society and public debate, and enjoy rights equal to those of the native people (Maciel, 2014). The primary idea of the multicultural ideology is that the society should strive to reduce intergroup conflicts and appreciate cultural uniqueness (Levin et al., 2012), thus, long for harmony and equality.
There are many positive outcomes of living in a multicultural society. First of all, when people live in a country settled by diverse ethnic groups, it leads to the elimination of prejudice and social dominance towards the representatives of cultural minorities (Kauff, Asbrock, Thörner, & Wagner, 2013). Such societies tend to be more friendly and safer in comparison to those that live in the condition of ethnic bias. It is true that if people stop seeing the difference in skin color or the background as a source of threat, they find it easier to cohabit and cease to fight for leadership. Moreover, they embrace cultural peculiarities of different minorities learning more about their traditions, habits, food, etc. It leads to broadening worldview and increasing knowledge together with learning to accept other people and their right to individuality (Dendy & Pe-Pua, 2010). Some may even see it as a way of finding out more about the world without traveling because the representatives of many cultures are gathered in one place and there is always an opportunity to get to know them.
Furthermore, multiculturalism is positive from the perspective of changing the culture itself. It is often criticized for lifting the boundaries between the cultures and erasing the uniqueness of ethnic minorities and, thus, creating a single globalized culture. It is true to some extent but, in fact, I do not think that it can be viewed as a negative outcome of existing multiculturalism. Instead, cultural diversity is a positive phenomenon in a way that it might help establish some new beautiful culture embracing the most fascinating elements of all the minorities’ traditions involved. It can become a tool for making people of different backgrounds have some things in common and lead to better understanding and deeper interconnectedness. The point here is that it is a choice of every representative of a minority whether he or she wants to forget about the historical past and move further ignoring the habits and traditions of the group.
Second, living in a multicultural society teaches tolerance and combats discrimination and racism (Taylor, 2012). We live in a world of bias based on gender, skin color, sexual orientation, cultural background, and any other kind of difference. I believe that recognizing that every ethnic group is unique is a first step to creating a society resting on the foundations of human dignity and tolerance. Of course, there may be a belief that discrimination is justifiable when it comes to equal rights to employment or gaining education, but I think that these are skills and intellectual abilities that should become the criteria for making such decisions, not the individual’s ethnic background. Eradicating this suspicion from the consciousness of the society is a vital step towards lifting discrimination and establishing harmony. It would also help create somewhat family-like relations in the community.
Finally, one should bear in mind that cultural diversity is beneficial not only for changing societal consciousness but also from the economic perspective. First of all, it is positive from the point of view that immigrants are more willing to fill low-paid positions, so that it leads to the drop in the level of unemployment. It is especially true in the case of the developed countries where the native people usually are more skilled and have higher levels of educational backgrounds. Multiculturalism also promotes creating new working places for the low-skilled workforce, increases the level of consumption and, as a result, the output. So, it motivates economic development (Dendy & Pe-Pua, 2010). What should not be ignored, however, is the fact that coming from an ethnical minority does not necessarily mean lower level of skills and knowledge. Today, involving people from different countries has become a practice that is broadly used by multinational corporations. The motivation for exercising it is that bringing together those who have diverse cultural backgrounds and experience has proved to be beneficial for developing a more effective problem-solving and decision-making mechanisms and improving the company’s overall performance.
Even though living in a multicultural society has many positive aspects, there are also some negative sides of this phenomenon. First of all, even if people of majority accept the ethnic minorities and their uniqueness, there is no guarantee that the same is true of these minor groups. That said, multiculturalism is often a source of conflicts among the representatives of different ethnic minorities (Kauff et al., 2013). It often leads to the creation of gangs, and the confrontation between them is bloody and cruel, so, it often affects innocent people not to mention the members of the groupings themselves. Moreover, openness to immigration and establishing cultural diversion might become a source of higher levels of crime because except for the possible intergroup conflicts and organized crime, it may lead to becoming involved in prostitution, drug dealing, etc. The reason for such negative outcomes of multiculturalism is evident – people from ethnic minorities often find it difficult to integrate into the society and find the jobs, especially if the level of their knowledge and skills is lower than the market demands, that is why choosing a criminal path of life is often their only option to make a living.
It should be said, however, that even if the representatives of cultural minorities do not form gangs or get involved in criminal or extremist activities, they still might break down into groups that do not want to get in contact with the rest of the society or follow the established rules (Christensen, 2012). Such developments in the multicultural society inevitably lead to the growth of isolation and mistrust, even though not necessarily entails the increase in the level of crimes. What is also troubling about living in a multicultural society is that people often do not understand each other not because of the differences in the ethnic backgrounds but because of speaking different languages. It is not a negative effect of multiculturalism in the first place, but it adds to the isolation of the smaller groups and makes them feel suppressed and worse than the members of the majority.
Together with the issue of language, there is also the matter of arrogance and ignorance that leads to building up barriers between the members of the minority groups and the rest of the society. Nevertheless, multiculturalism is, to my mind, a positive outcome of globalization, discrimination and bias were always present in the societal consciousness, that is why it is extremely difficult to eradicate them and make people believe in human’s dignity without regard to the ethnic background. So, what is significant about multicultural society is that the recognition and acceptance of cultural peculiarities and integration of ethnic minorities are the highest levels of the social relations evolution. At first, it is one of the additional sources of social inequality and intolerance, as these groups often suffer from suppression and discrimination because they are treated differently and usually occupy lower positions that those belonging to the natives, even if the newcomers are more skilled or educated. That is why the positive effects of multiculturalism are achieved later when people get used to the thought that the presence of ethnic minorities and their integration is inevitable. Moreover, developing institutions of power that would represent ethnic groups and mechanisms for involving them in the social debate also takes time.
In the conclusion I would like to say that even though the negative aspects of living in a multicultural society are significant, it is possible to deal with them through developing the robust dialogue and demonstrating the desire to reach harmony and mutual understanding. I believe that if people find the strength to overcome the difficulties in making ethnic minorities a part of the society, the outcomes will be fantastic because cultural diversity is the unlimited source of creativity and positive shifts in every sphere of social life. What is more crucial, embracing multiculturalism is a perfect way to make the world a better place to live because it decreases the level of hostility among the representatives of different ethnicities and leads to establishing peace and harmony not only in the streets but also in people’s minds.
Christensen, E. (2012). Revisiting multiculturalism and its critics. The Monist, 95(1), 33-48.
Dendy, J., & Pe-Pua, R. (2010). Attitudes to multiculturalism, immigration and cultural diversity: Comparison of dominant and non-dominant groups in three Australian states. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 34(1), 34-46.
Kauff, M., Asbrock, F., Thörner, S., & Wagner, U. (2013). Side effects of multiculturalism: The interaction effect of a multicultural ideology and authoritarianism on prejudice and diversity beliefs. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39(3), 305-320.
Levin, S., Matthews, M., Guimind, S., Sidanius, J., Pratto, F., Kteily, N., & Dover, T. (2012). Assimilation, multiculturalism, and colorblindness: Mediated and moderated relationships between social dominance orientation and prejudice. Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology, 48(1), 207-212.
Maciel, R. (2014). The future of liberal multiculturalism. Political Studies Review, 12(3), 383-394.
Taylor, C. (2012). Interculturalism or multiculturalism? Philosophy and Social Criticism, 38(4-5), 413-423.