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Is Multiculturalism a Good or a Bad Thing?


Multiculturalism is a term that can be viewed from different aspects. First of all, it is a fact of the surrounding world: our planet is culturally diverse, and most of the modern countries have also ceased to be monocultural. Apart from that, multiculturalism is an ideology that depicts the coexistence of multiple cultures in mutual respect as an ideal. It can evolve into policy; in this case, it becomes officially promoted by the government. Finally, there is the practice of multiculturalism that may or may not correspond to the policy (Guo and Wong 4). The aspect of the term that is most often criticized is the ideological and political implications of multiculturalism.

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Technically, MP was bound to arise in the modern world due the various forms of international communication and migration coupled with the promotion of human rights (Corrao and Maffettone 119; Reitz et al. 5). Here, we argue that multiculturalism policy and ideology is both logical and humane in the modern society. Due to its actual implementation (the practice of multiculturalism), difficulties are bound to arise, but for a non-homogenous society, it is probably the only logical and humane policy that could be employed.

The Logic of Multiculturalism

One of the views on multiculturalism states that the diversity of the population of the world is a fact. In UAE, for example, the Emirati people constitute about 20% of the country’s population. The rest are expatriates: about 20% are “other Arab and Iranian,” 50% are South Asian, and about 10% come from other countries including European (“UAE” par. 4). As a result, in this country, the diversity of the population is a fact that simply cannot be denied. No one can also dispute the fact that people (human resources) are an asset. It can be admitted that the management of diverse population is more difficult than working with a homogeneous group of people: it can be felt even at the organizational level; in the terms of a country, it becomes especially visible (Griffin 188). Still, the difficulty of management is not a justification for the neglect of valuable resource. Talent, skills, and knowledge do not depend on a person’s cultural background; in fact, the latter can provide a boost for the former. For example, the Government of Canada explicitly states that multiculturalism turns the “issue” of diversity into and “asset” due to the importance of international communication (“Canadian Multiculturalism” par. 7). It can be concluded that discrimination leads to ineffective allocation of human resources. Therefore, multiculturalism is the “platform” for “public reason” within a society where cultural minorities are present Corrao and Maffettone 124). Nowadays, it is the majority of societies.

Multiculturalism and Human Rights

For the modern society, the maintenance of human rights is of primary importance. Multiculturalism promises that the human rights of the people belonging to minorities are going to be protected. These rights presuppose the guarantees of freedom and dignity, the equality before the law, non-discrimination, freedom of “thought, belief, opinion, expression,” and assembly, and equality of opportunities (for example, alternative education) (“Canadian Multiculturalism” par. 5; Corrao and Maffettone 124). Naturally, all these rights come with equal responsibilities, but the point is, people feel and are safe and protected in a multicultural society.

It should be mentioned that the traditional idea of liberalism (that is closely related to the promotion of human rights) is in conflict with the ideas of multiculturalism. Traditional liberalism would demand the homogenization of the society (Eagan, par. 3-4). At the same time, opinions have been voiced that liberalism is capable of evolving into a doctrine that recognizes the specifics of a multicultural society (Corrao and Maffettone 123-124). In other words, liberalism proclaims all people as equal and similar, while multiculturalism states that they are different but equally important and valuable. It can be concluded that multiculturalism is even more humane than the classic liberalism: it allows people preserve their identity.

The Disadvantages of Multiculturalism: Does It Cause Conflicts?

Multiculturalism has been widely criticized in the past decade and a half, arguably beginning with the tragedy of 9/11 in the US (Guo and Wong 5). For example, in 2010, German Chancellor Angela Merkel proclaimed the attempts of creating a multicultural society in her country to be a failure as a result of the difficulties in the process of integration of Muslim immigrants (Weaver par. 1, 8). Indeed, one of the arguments that are used by the opponents of multicultural politics is the fact that a multicultural society is more difficult to manage than a monocultural one, and multiculturalistic approach “fossilizes differences” and provides fertile ground for cultural clashes and conflicts while also “decomposing” the society, presenting it as a number of isolated groups (Guo and Wong 6). Multicultural society requires specific education and training opportunities, demands the development of specific diversity management features (in particular, in the context of a multicultural organization), all of which has the potential to exclude and even label the people who are “different” (Griffin 188-190; Grant 199-215). As a result, the diversity of the society is encouraged and, according to the opponents, it leads to exclusion.

It can be suggested that there is some logic to this argument, and it is validated by the problem of the discrepancies between the ideology and the practice. As an ideology, multiculturalism means that all the citizens of a country can “take pride in their ancestry and have a sense of belonging” (“Canadian Multiculturalism” par. 2). Therefore, instead of breaking the society into groups, the multicultural policy is aimed at making the people of a country consider themselves as part of this country, be confident and believe that they matter to the society and can realize their potential for the good of it. Multiculturalism is aimed at fostering mutual trust and respect that is necessary to accept the possibility of the coexistence of different cultures (“Canadian Multiculturalism” par. 3). Multiculturalism does not seek to exclude; instead, it attempts to incorporate various (and often previously oppressed and excluded groups) into the society and respect their differences while also expecting them to respect the differences of the majority (Eagan, par. 2). It is obvious that mutual respect is difficult to achieve, and it appears that all the problems that have been encountered so far stem from the lack of this respect, the lack of multiculturalism as it has been proposed. As for the issue of practical applicability of the idea, Canada was the first to introduce the multicultural policy officially, and since then the country has been advocating for it vigorously (Reitz et al. 5). It appears that even if the ideal of multiculturalism is not achievable, its less perfect version can be implemented nonetheless.

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Conclusion: Future Perspectives

Nowadays, with the growing migrant crisis and especially with the horrific tales of the behavior of the migrants (for example, the 80 reports concerning sexual assaults of women in Cologne supposedly committed by immigrants), the validity of multiculturalism is probably going to be questioned again and again (“Germany shocked by Cologne New Year gang assaults on women” par. 1). Still, the example of Canada shows that the idea of multiculturalism can be customized and implemented in real life. Therefore, it is obvious that multiculturalism is a humane policy that is necessary to use in culturally diverse countries.

Works Cited

“Canadian Multiculturalism: An Inclusive Citizenship.” The Government of Canada. The Government of Canada, 2016. Web.

Corrao, Francesca Maria, and Sebastiano Maffettone. “Arab Minorities, Liberalism, and Multiculturalism.” Multiculturalism and Minority Rights in the Arab World. Eds. Will Kymlicka and Eva Pföstl. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Print.

“Germany shocked by Cologne New Year gang assaults on women.” BBC, 2016. Web.

Eagan, Jennifer. “Multiculturalism.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 2015. Web.

Grant, Carl A. Multiculturalism in Education And Teaching. London: Routledge, 2014. Print.

Griffin, Ricky W. Management. Mason: Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.

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Guo, Shibao, and Lloyd L Wong. Revisiting Multiculturalism in Canada. New York: Springer, 2015. Print.

Reitz, Jeffrey, Raymond Breton, Karen Dion, Kenneth Dion, Mai Phan, and Rupa Banerjee. Multiculturalism and Social Cohesion. Dordrecht: Springer, 2009. Print.

“UAE.” CIA. CIA, 2015. Web.

Weaver, Matthew. “Angela Merkel: German multiculturalism has ‘utterly failed’.” TheGuardian, 2010. Web.

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