Multiculturalism : Core Themes

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  • Multiculturalism : Core Themes
    • Politics of recognition
      • Republicanism - The belief that a republic, in which supreme authority is vested in a body of citizens and is exercised by their representatives, is the ideal model of government
      • Citizenship - Membership of a state: a relationship between the individual and the state based on reciprocal rights and responsibilities
      • Formal equality - Equality based on people’s status in society, especially their legal and political rights (legal and political equality)
      • Eurocentrism - The application of values and theories drawn from European culture to other groups and people’s, implying a biased or distorted worldview
      • Multiculturalism argues that minority cultural groups are disadvantaged in relation to majority groups, and that remedying this involves significant change in society's rules and institutions. As such, multiculturalism, in common with many other ideological traditions (socialism, feminism), is associated with the advancement of the marginalised, disadvantaged or oppressed.
      • Notions of ‘politics of rights’ is rooted in the idea of republicanism, which associated with liberalism. The key idea of republicanism is the principle of universal citizenship, the belief that all members of society should share the same status and entitlement. Republicans see ‘difference’ as the problem, and so are ‘difference blind’.
    • Culture and identity
      • Culture - beliefs, values and practices that are passed on from one generation to the next through learning; culture is distinct from nature
      • Communitarianism- The belief that people’s identities and values are constituted through the community in the sense that there are no ‘unencumbered selves’
      • Herder - Human beings are culturally defined creatures
      • Culture links to political and social identity; e.g gay rights, fight for equality for gays as they identify with being gay, hence support gay rights. Multiculturalists argue this gives people a sense of rootedness, belonging and sense of security so are less likely to revolt or be extremist. (Although it can be argued only one culture in society can do this)
      • Liberal universalism believes that as individuals, people in all cultures and societies have essentially the same ‘inner’ identity.
      • Identity politics seeks to overthrow oppression by reshaping the groups identity through what amounts to a process of political and cultural self assertion. Groups marginalised operate through stereotypes and values developed by major groups, who see themselves as superior, this creates a sense of inferiority and shame. Subordination can be challenged by reshaping identity to give groups a sense of pride, proclaiming a positive social identity, is thus an act of liberation.
      • Communitarianism focuses less on the individual but more cultural identity and highlights the difference in society. The individual does not come before the community, the individual identities are formed by the culture they grew up in and provides a source of meaning and significance.
      • Liberal universalism is seen to oppress minorities by setting values and practices which favour white rich men. Identity politics sees culture as a positive mechanism to redress cultural imbalances, cultural pride to fight against stereotypes.
    • Minority rights
      • Toleration - Forbearance; a willingness to accept views of actions with which one is in disagreement
      • Multiculturalists believe that unity can be blended with diversity, nationalism differs believing that nationality coincides with citizenship.
      • Multiculturalists believe diversity promotes unity as it promotes cultural exchange between groups that live side by side, which fosters cross cultural toleration and understanding. Therefore there is a willingness to respect difference, meaning cultural groups get rights and acceptance and feel secure and will be more coherent within society.
      • Believe diversity is desirable and should be celebrated, bringing vibrance to society and can benefit individuals sense of cultural identity and belonging.
    • Diversity
      • Positive discrimination - Preferential treatment towards a group designed to compensate its members for past disadvantage or structural inequality
      • Offence - To feel hurt, even humiliated; an injury against one's deep beliefs
      • Affirmative action - Policies or programmes that are designed to benefit disadvantaged minority groups and potentially women) by affording them special assistance
      • Self government - National minorities and indigenous people get given full devolution and rights to vote on laws for that area through the use of feudalism
      • Polyethnic rights - Rights that help ethnic groups and religious minorities, express and maintain cultural diversity.  E.g exemption for Jews and Muslims from animal slaughter, exemption of muslims from school dress codes. (Positive discriminations)
      • Representation rights - Attempt to address minority groups rights in legal, political, educational and economic institutions.  E.g Rooney Rule in American Football. (Positive discrimination)
      • The advance of multiculturalism has gone hand in hand with a willingness to recognize minority and multicultural rights; defined by Will Kymlicka there are three forms of minority rights; Self government rights,Polyethnic rights and Representation rights.
      • Minority rights have been justified for various reasons;       1. Liberal multiculturalism guarantees individual freedom and personal autonomy     2. Counters oppression   3. Readresses social injustices      4. Indigenous people and racial minorities are entitled to rights of self government and so on
      • Criticisms of minority rights; 1.Blocks integration    2. Positive discrimination gives disproportionate advantages to minorities 3. If offense is a form of oppression then preventing this can limit freedom of speech         4. Tension between minority and individual rights

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