Multiculturalism Core Themes

Politics of Recognition

  • Minority cultural groups disadvantaged > majority groups = significant changes in societys rules + institutions
  • Advancement of marginalized, disadvantaged or oppressed groups
  • 'Politics of rights' - rooted in 'republicanism'. (associated a bit w liberalism). primarily the problem of legal + political exclusion. Denial to enjoy rights fellow citizens enjoy. 'Difference-blind', diff. is the problem so should be banished for equality. Est. Formal Equality.
  • 'Politics of redistribution' embraces modern lib. and social democracy. People also held back by social disadvantage (poverty, unemployment, poor housing). Social reformism= equal opportunities, allowing people to rise + fall based on personal ability. legal eglatarianism < social eglatarianism. Difference acknowledged bc it causes problems but only for that purpose. 
  • Group marginalization, deeper origins- cultural phenominon  operated by stereotypes
  • eglatarianism has limited value, doesnt go far enough bc doesnt address deeper roots.
  • Bc of this- emphasise difference rather than equality- celebrate cultural difference
  • Foundations laid by postcolonial theories. (black nationalism + multiculturalism offshoots of postcolonialism)
  • Orientalism (highlighted the orient particularly) stereotypical fictions that belittled and demeaned non-western peoples
1 of 5

Culture and Identity

  • Culture: beliefs, values and practises that are passed on from one generation to the next through learning.
  • Pride in one's culture and esp public aknowledgement of ones cultural identity gives people a sense of social and historical rootedness
  • weak sense of cultural identity leaves people feeling isolated and confused
  • Extreme form = culturalism (human beings are culturally defined beings)
  • Modern day cultural politics shaped by communitarianism + identity politics
  • Communitarianism- lets focus more on what makes us different not what we share. People cannot be understood outside society but are shaped by the social, cultural + other structures within which they live and develop.
  • Liberal universalism = oppression (tends to marginalize + demoralize subordinate groups and people. 
  • Culture of liberal societies constructed in line with values + interests of dom groups (men, whites, wealthy)
  • Subordinate groups either consigned to an inferior stereotype or encouraged to identify with values + interests of dom groups
  • Culture = source of liberation + empowerment. 
  • Embracing identity form of defance/statement (political act)
2 of 5

Minority Rights

  • Will Kymlicka, 3 kinds of minority rights
  • Self-government rights: indigenous peoples territorially concentrated 'meaningful way of life across the full range of human activities'. (maoris NZ, aboriginal, AU). Devolved power to political units controlled by members. Can extend to sovereign independance (canada)
  • Polyethnic rights: Help ethnic/religious groups/minorities to express + maintain their cultural distinctiveness. (Muslim girls exempt from school dress code, Sikhs and helmets)
  • Representation rights: Redress under representation of minority/ disadvantaged groups in education/ senior positions in political + public life. 
  • 'positive discrimination' - justified if its the only way to ensure full + equal participation of all groups in the life of their society. Ensuring public policy reflects interests of more diverse groups
  • Different to liberal ideas of rights bc they belong to groups not individuals
  • Special bc specific and would be meaningless to other groups
3 of 5

Minority Rights x2

  • garuntee of individual freedom and personal autonomy (Charles Taylor individual self respect bound up with cultural membership)
  • Way of countering oppression. Without them people are ignored and so is the line between what is offensive (The Satanic Verses
  • They redress social injustice. Compensation for unfair disadvantages + underrepresentation usually addressed through positive discrimination. (e.g. in USA case of Regents of the University of California v Bakke 1978, Supreme court upheld principle of 'reverse' discrimination in educational admissions allowing black students to gain admission to US universities with lower qualifications than white students)
  • Multiculturalists (e.g. KYMLICKA) indigenous peoples or national minorities are entitled to rights that go beyond those of groups that formed through immigration.
  • Ind. Entitled to self-government rights: disposessed and subordinated through process of colonization. They didnt choose to give up their culture, in this case minority rights actually national rights.
  • immigrant groups COULD under obligation to accept core values and government of place they settle.
  • Indigenous people often live territorially concentrated so devolution is practical and easy unlike to spread out immigrants
  • Controversial bc stop integration with rest of soc. (e.g. Muslim womans veil)
4 of 5


  • Cultural diversity compatible with political cohesion
  • Refuse to link diversity w conflict or instability
  • Diversity + unity should be blended, aren't opposing
  • Accept people having mulitple identities/loyalties  (country of origin/country of settlement)
  • Cultural recognition underpins political stability. People willing + able to participate in society bc they have a firm, secure identity rooted in own culture.
  • Denial of cultural recognition leads to isolation + powerlessness giving room for extremism + poltiics of hate.
  • Desirable + should be celebrated. Makes vibrant society.
  • Paralells ecologism drawing links between diversity + systemic health. It benefits society in the way biodiversity benefits an ecosystem.
  • Fosters cultural toleration + understanding.
  • Antidote to prejudice + polarization
  • May highlight internal tension of multiculturalism. Yes emphasize  distinctive nature of cultural groups and need for individual identity to be imbedded  however risk of 'melting pot' society where people have shallower sense of social + histoical identity. As people learn more about other culutres the lines of their own get blurred.
5 of 5


No comments have yet been made

Similar Government & Politics resources:

See all Government & Politics resources »See all Multiculturalism resources »