Multiculturalism or cultural diversity is a sociological and cultural theoretical expression with multiple meanings, as described below. As a descriptive term, it refers to a relationship in which several ethnic groups with different cultures come together in the same political unit. Multiculturalism can also refer to ideological social analyses, which in varying degrees affirm cultural origins by a variety of ethnic influences as something good or inevitable. Multiculturalism deals with, among other things, the authorities’ approach to a society with many ethnic backgrounds and tolerance for cultural differences within the same State. The synonyms and related terms to multiculturalism are “ethnic diversity” and “cultural pluralism”.
The term was first used in 1957 to describe Switzerland, but spread throughout the 1960s, particularly in Western Europe and the United States. It is often used to describe societies that carries hints of or comprises many different cultures, for example, because of the immigration. The differences can cause anxiety that the nation should lose its identity, but there are also cultural exchanges that give advantages to the various factions. For example, it could be about new influences in art, literature and philosophy, as well as free improvisation of music styles, clothing styles and cuisine.
Multiculturalism is also a term used to describe how a state should act towards different cultures within the same nation.
There are roughly three ways for a State to approach immigrants and their cultures:
- monoculture – in which the policy is to assimilate immigrants into the existing society’s culture. This method is most commonly used in unitary states, and is closely linked to nationalism.
- melting pot – a variant of multiculturalism where all the immigrant cultures are mixed without much governmental or public involvement. This method is associated mainly with the United States, where, however, the various states within the Federation have different legislation.
- multiculturalism – in comparison with the two methods above is based on cultural diversity that immigrants and others keep to maintain their cultural identities and to the different cultures to co-exist. This method is used, among other things. in Canada and Australia.
Multiculturalism is often used with the importance of intercultural communication.
According to one of several multiculturalism critical definitions, it is a political concept, where many cultures represent a culture mix at the first stage, where awareness of the content and significance of culture is reduced and there is blurring of boundaries between different cultures, resulting in a cultural condition without obvious and collective performances. The end result is, according to this thinking, complete alienation. According to critics, there are also often multicultural policies that push back indigenous culture, denying it cultural advantage.
According to the proponents of multicultural policy, however, the preservation of minority cultures, as well as the majority population, is one of the highest priorities, as long as the culture does not create negative values and actions, such as repression and other human rights violations. A main thesis is that cultures are dynamic and cultural meetings are favorable for development and strengthen the own culture, among others. Through increased awareness and self-knowledge.
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