The term multiculturalism has a range of meanings within the contexts of sociology, of political philosophy, and of colloquial use. In sociology and in everyday usage, it is a synonym for "ethnic pluralism", with the two terms often used interchangeably, for example, a cultural pluralism in which various ethnic groups collaborate and enter into a dialogue with one another without having to sacrifice their particular identities. It can describe a mixed ethnic community area where multiple cultural traditions exist (such as New York City) or a single country within which they do (such as Switzerland, Belgium or Russia). Groups associated with an aboriginal or autochthonous ethnic group and foreigner ethnic groups are often the focus.
In reference to sociology, multiculturalism is the end-state of either a natural or artificial process (for example: legally-controlled immigration) and occurs on either a large national scale or on a smaller scale within a nation's communities. On a smaller scale this can occur artificially when a jurisdiction is established or expanded by amalgamating areas with two or more different cultures (e.g. French Canada and English Canada). On a large scale, it can occur as a result of either legal or illegal migration to and from different jurisdictions around the world (for example, Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain by Angles, Saxons and Jutes in the 5th century or the colonization of the Americas by Europeans, Africans and Asians since the 16th century).
In the political philosophy of multiculturalism, ideas are focused on the ways in which societies are either believed to or should, respond to cultural and religious differences. It is often associated with "identity politics", "the politics of difference", and "the politics of recognition". It is also a matter of economic interests and political power. In more recent times political multiculturalist ideologies have been expanding in their use to include and define disadvantaged groups such as African Americans, LGBT, with arguments often focusing on ethnic and religious minorities, minority nations, indigenous peoples and even the disabled. It is within this context in which the term is most commonly understood and the broadness and scope of the definition, as well as its practical use, has been the subject of serious debate.
Most debates over multiculturalism center around whether or not multiculturalism is the appropriate way to deal with diversity and immigrant integration. The arguments regarding the perceived rights to a multicultural education include the proposition that it acts as a way to demand recognition of aspects of a group's culture subordination and its entire experience in contrast to a melting pot or non-multicultural societies.
The term multiculturalism is most often used in reference to Western nation-states, which had seemingly achieved a de facto single national identity during the 18th and/or 19th centuries. Multiculturalism has been official policy in several Western nations since the 1970s, for reasons that varied from country to country, including the fact that many of the great cities of the Western world are increasingly made of a mosaic of cultures.
The Canadian government has often been described as the instigator of multicultural ideology because of its public emphasis on the social importance of immigration. The Canadian Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism is often referred to as the origins of modern political awareness of multiculturalism. In the Western English-speaking countries, multiculturalism as an official national policy started in Canada in 1971, followed by Australia in 1973 where it is maintained today. It was quickly adopted as official policy by most member-states of the European Union. Recently, right-of-center governments in several European states – notably the Netherlands and Denmark – have reversed the national policy and returned to an official monoculturalism. A similar reversal is the subject of debate in the United Kingdom, among others, due to evidence of incipient segregation and anxieties over "home-grown" terrorism. Several heads-of-state or heads-of-government have expressed doubts about the success of multicultural policies: The United Kingdom's ex-Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Australia's ex-prime minister John Howard, Spanish ex-prime minister Jose Maria Aznar and French ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy have voiced concerns about the effectiveness of their multicultural policies for integrating immigrants.
Many nation-states in Africa, Asia, and the Americas are culturally diverse and are 'multicultural' in a descriptive sense. In some, communalism is a major political issue. The policies adopted by these states often have parallels with multiculturalist policies in the Western world, but the historical background is different, and the goal may be a mono-cultural or mono-ethnic nation-building – for instance in the Malaysian government's attempt to create a 'Malaysian race' by 2020.
Multiculturalism is seen by its supporters as a fairer system that allows people to truly express who they are within a society, that is more tolerant and that adapts better to social issues. They argue that culture is not one definable thing based on one race or religion, but rather the result of multiple factors that change as the world changes.
Historically, support for modern multiculturalism stems from the changes in Western societies after World War II, in what Susanne Wessendorf calls the "human rights revolution", in which the horrors of institutionalized racism and ethnic cleansing became almost impossible to ignore in the wake of the Holocaust; with the collapse of the European colonial system, as colonized nations in Africa and Asia successfully fought for their independence and pointed out the discriminatory underpinnings of the colonial system; and, in the United States in particular, with the rise of the Civil Rights Movement, which criticized ideals of assimilation that often led to prejudices against those who did not act according to Anglo-American standards and which led to the development of academic ethnic studies programs as a way to counteract the neglect of contributions by racial minorities in classrooms. As this history shows, multiculturalism in Western countries was seen to combat racism, to protect minority communities of all types, and to undo policies that had prevented minorities from having full access to the opportunities for freedom and equality promised by the liberalism that has been the hallmark of Western societies since the Age of Enlightenment. The contact hypothesis in sociology is a well documented phenomenon in which cooperative interactions with those from a different group than one's own reduce prejudice and inter-group hostility.
C. James Trotman argues that multiculturalism is valuable because it "uses several disciplines to highlight neglected aspects of our social history, particularly the histories of women and minorities [...and] promotes respect for the dignity of the lives and voices of the forgotten. By closing gaps, by raising consciousness about the past, multiculturalism tries to restore a sense of wholeness in a postmodern era that fragments human life and thought."
Tariq Modood argues that in the early years of the 21st century, multiculturalism "is most timely and necessary, and [...] we need more not less", since it is "the form of integration" that (1) best fits the ideal of egalitarianism, (2) has "the best chance of succeeding" in the "post-9/11, post 7/7" world, and (3) has remained "moderate [and] pragmatic".
Bhikhu Parekh counters what he sees as the tendencies to equate multiculturalism with racial minorities "demanding special rights" and to see it as promoting a "thinly veiled racis[m]". Instead, he argues that multiculturalism is in fact "not about minorities" but "is about the proper terms of relationship between different cultural communities", which means that the standards by which the communities resolve their differences, e.g., "the principles of justice" must not come from only one of the cultures but must come "through an open and equal dialogue between them."
Balibar characterizes criticisms of multiculturalism as "differentialist racism", which he describes as a covert form of racism that does not purport ethnic superiority as much as it asserts stereotypes of perceived "incompatibility of life-styles and traditions".
While there is research that suggests that ethnic diversity increases chances of war, lower public goods provision and decreases democratization, there is also research that shows that ethnic diversity in itself is not detrimental to peace, public goods provision or democracy. Rather, it was found that promoting diversity actually helps in advancing disadvantaged students. A 2018 study in the American Political Science Review cast doubts on findings that ethnoracial homogeneity led to greater public goods provision. A 2015 study in the American Journal of Sociology challenged past research showing that racial diversity adversely affected trust.
The Wikimedia Foundation suggests that "diversity of perspectives is crucial to increasing the quality of the free knowledge resources that [their] movement provides". Wikidata also suggests that "the world is complicated and there is no single truth–especially in a knowledge base that is supposed to serve many cultures."
Critics of multiculturalism often debate whether the multicultural ideal of benignly co-existing cultures that interrelate and influence one another, and yet remain distinct, is sustainable, paradoxical, or even desirable. It is argued that nation states, who would previously have been synonymous with a distinctive cultural identity of their own, lose out to enforced multiculturalism and that this ultimately erodes the host nations' distinct culture.
Harvard professor of political science Robert D. Putnam conducted a nearly decade-long study on how multiculturalism affects social trust. He surveyed 26,200 people in 40 American communities, finding that when the data were adjusted for class, income and other factors, the more racially diverse a community is, the greater the loss of trust. People in diverse communities "don’t trust the local mayor, they don’t trust the local paper, they don’t trust other people and they don’t trust institutions," writes Putnam. In the presence of such ethnic diversity, Putnam maintains that:
"[W]e hunker down. We act like turtles. The effect of diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that we don’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, we don’t trust people who do look like us".
Putnam has also stated, however, that "this allergy to diversity tends to diminish and to go away... I think in the long run we'll all be better."
Ethnologist Frank Salter writes:
Relatively homogeneous societies invest more in public goods, indicating a higher level of public altruism. For example, the degree of ethnic homogeneity correlates with the government's share of gross domestic product as well as the average wealth of citizens. Case studies of the United States, Africa and South-East Asia find that multi-ethnic societies are less charitable and less able to cooperate to develop public infrastructure. Moscow beggars receive more gifts from fellow ethnics than from other ethnies [sic]. A recent multi-city study of municipal spending on public goods in the United States found that ethnically or racially diverse cities spend a smaller portion of their budgets and less per capita on public services than do the more homogeneous cities.
Dick Lamm, former three-term Democratic governor of the US state of Colorado, wrote in his essay "I have a plan to destroy America":
Diverse peoples worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other—that is, when they are not killing each other. A diverse, peaceful, or stable society is against most historical precedent."
A number of conservative historians used the religion of the Mexica, better known as the Aztecs as an example of what they see as the flaws of multiculturalism. The Australian historian Keith Windschuttle cited the accounts of his fellow Australian historian Inga Clendinnen of the festival of Ochpaniztli where to honor the Maize Lord a young woman was sacrificed by ripping out her heart so the crops might grow:
Then, still in darkness, silence, and urgent haste, her body was flayed, and a naked priest, a 'very strong man, very powerful, very tall', struggled into the wet skin, with its slack breasts and pouched genitalia: a double nakedness of layered, ambiguous sexuality. The skin of one thigh was reserved to be fashioned into a face-mask for the man impersonating Centeotl, Young Lord Maize Cob, the son of Toci.
Windschuttle argued that the gruesome religion of the Aztecs that required that dozens of young people be sacrificed and eaten every day so that the sun might rise the next day and hundreds of people sacrificed for major holidays as proving that multiculturalism is a facile doctrine that requires Westerners to respect Aztec religion as equal to any other religion. The American classicist Victor Davis Hanson used the perceived differences in "rationality" between Moctezuma and Cortés to argue that Western culture was superior to every culture in the entire world, which thus led him to reject multiculturalism as a false doctrine that placed all cultures on an equal footing.
Though not called Multiculturalism as such, the preamble of Argentina's constitution explicitly promotes immigration, and recognizes the individual's multiple citizenship from other countries. Though 97% of Argentina's population self-identify as of European descent to this day a high level of multiculturalism remains a feature of Argentina's culture, allowing foreign festivals and holidays (e.g. Saint Patrick's Day), supporting all kinds of art or cultural expression from ethnic groups, as well as their diffusion through an important multicultural presence in the media; for instance it is not uncommon to find newspapers or radio programs in English, German, Italian, French or Portuguese in Argentina.
Bolivia is a diverse country made up of 36 different types of indigenous groups. Over 62% of Bolivia's population falls into these different ingenious groups, making it the most indigenous country in Latin America. Out of the indigenous groups the Aymara and the Quechua are the largest. The latter 30% of the population is apart of the mestizo, which are a people mixed with European and indigenous ancestry. Bolivia's political administrations have endorsed multicultural politics and in 2009 Bolivia's Constitution was inscribed with multicultural principles. The Constitution of Bolivia recognizes 36 official languages besides Spanish, each language has its own culture and indigenous group. Bolivian culture is celebrated across the country and has heavy influences from the Aymara, the Quechua, the Spanish, and other popular cultures from around Latin America.
The Americas have been known to be some of the most multicultural geographical locations, as many of the times there is a diversity of language, religion, and ethnicities present. The South American country Brazil can also acclaim multiculturalism, and has undergone many changes in the past few decades. Brazil is a controversial country when is comes to defining a multicultural country. There are two views: the Harvard Institute of Economic Research states that Brazil has an intersection of many cultures because of recent migration, while the Pew Research Center state that Brazil is culturally diverse but the majority of the country speaks Portuguese.
With cities such as São Paulo, who are seen to be home to many migrants from Japan, Italy, Lebanon and Portugal. There is a multicultural presence within in this city, and this is prevalent throughout Brazil. Furthermore, Brazil is a country who has made great strides to embrace migrant cultures, and with its increase of African descent people they have made changes to become more aware and welcoming. There has been an increase of awareness of anti-blackness and they are actively finding ways to combat racism in Brazil.
Canadian society is often depicted as being "very progressive, diverse, and multicultural". Multiculturalism (a Just Society) was adopted as the official policy of the Canadian government during the premiership of Pierre Elliott Trudeau in the 1970s and 1980s. Multiculturalism is reflected in the law through the Canadian Multiculturalism Act and section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Broadcasting Act of 1991 asserts the Canadian broadcasting system should reflect the diversity of cultures in the country. Canadian multiculturalism is looked upon with admiration outside the country, resulting in the Canadian public dismissing most critics of the concept. Multiculturalism in Canada is often looked at as one of Canada's significant accomplishments, and a key distinguishing element of Canadian identity.
In a 2002 interview with The Globe and Mail, Karīm al-Hussainī the 49th Aga Khan of the Ismaili Muslims described Canada as "the most successful pluralist society on the face of our globe", citing it as "a model for the world". He explained that the experience of Canadian governance—its commitment to pluralism and its support for the rich multicultural diversity of its people—is something that must be shared and would be of benefit to all societies in other parts of the world. The Economist ran a cover story in 2016 praising Canada as the most successful multicultural society in the West. The Economist argued that Canada's multiculturalism was a source of strength that united the diverse population and by attracting immigrants from around the world was also an engine of economic growth as well. Many public and private groups in Canada work to support both multiculturalism and recent immigrants to Canada. In an effort to support recent Filipino immigrants to Alberta, for example, one school board partnered with a local university and an immigration agency to support these new families in their school and community.
Mexico has historically always been a multicultural country. After the betrayal of Hernán Cortés to the Aztecs, the Spanish conquered the Aztec Empire and colonized indigenous people. They influenced the indigenous religion, politics, culture and ethnicity. The Spanish opened schools in which they taught Christianity, and the Spanish language which it eventually surpassed the indigenous dialects and languages, making it the most spoken language in Mexico. Mestizo was also born from the conquest, which meant being half-Indigenous and half-Spanish. In today's world "Mestizo" has become an umbrella term to those that are non-indigenous, which would include Asian Mexicans and Afro-Mexicans.
Mexico City has recently been integrating rapidly, doing much better than many cities in a sample conducted by the Intercultural Cities Index (being the only non-European city, alongside Montreal, on the index). Mexico is an ethnically diverse country with a population composed of approximately 123 million in 2017. There is a wide variety of ethnic groups, the major group being Mestizos followed by Indigenous Mexicans. There are many other ethnic groups such as Arab Mexicans, Afro-Mexicans, Asian Mexicans and White Mexicans.
From the year 2000 to 2010, the number of people in Mexico that were born in another country doubled, reaching an amount of 961,121 people. Mostly coming from Guatemala and the United States. Mexico is quickly becoming a melting pot, with many immigrants coming into the country. It is considered to be a cradle of civilization, which influences their multiculturalism and diversity, by having different civilizations influence them. A distinguishable trait of Mexico's culture is the mestizaje of its people, which caused the combination of Spanish influence, their indigenous roots while also adapting the culture traditions from their immigrants.
Peru is an exemplary country of multiculturalism, in 2016 the INEI reported a total population of 31 million people. They share their borders with Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia, and have welcomed many immigrants into their country creating a diverse community.
Peru is the home to Amerindians but after the Spanish Conquest, the Spanish brought African, and Asian people as slaves to Peru creating a mix of ethnic groups. After slavery was no longer permitted in Peru, African-Peruvians and Asian-Peruvians have contributed to Peruvian culture in many ways. Today, Amerindians make up 45% of the population, mestizos 37%, white 15% and 3% is composed by Black, Chinese, and others. In 1821, Peru's president Jose de San Martin gave foreigners the freedom to start industries in Peru's ground, 2 years after, foreigners that lived in Peru for more than 5 years were considered naturalized citizens, which then decreased to 3 years.
In the United States, multiculturalism is not clearly established in policy at the federal level, but ethnic diversity is common in both rural and urban areas.
Continuous mass immigration was a feature of the United States economy and society since the first half of the 19th century. The absorption of the stream of immigrants became, in itself, a prominent feature of America's national myth. The idea of the melting pot is a metaphor that implies that all the immigrant cultures are mixed and amalgamated without state intervention. The melting pot theory implied that each individual immigrant, and each group of immigrants, assimilated into American society at their own pace. This is different than multiculturalism as defined above, which does not include complete assimilation and integration. An Americanized (and often stereotypical) version of the original nation's cuisine, and its holidays, survived. The melting pot tradition co-exists with a belief in national unity, dating from the American founding fathers:
Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people – a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs... This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties.
As a philosophy, multiculturalism began as part of the pragmatism movement at the end of the nineteenth century in Europe and the United States, then as political and cultural pluralism at the turn of the twentieth. It was partly in response to a new wave of European imperialism in sub-Saharan Africa and the massive immigration of Southern and Eastern Europeans to the United States and Latin America. Philosophers, psychologists and historians and early sociologists such as Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, George Santayana, Horace Kallen, John Dewey, W. E. B. Du Bois and Alain Locke developed concepts of cultural pluralism, from which emerged what we understand today as multiculturalism. In Pluralistic Universe (1909), William James espoused the idea of a "plural society." James saw pluralism as "crucial to the formation of philosophical and social humanism to help build a better, more egalitarian society.
The educational approach to multiculturalism has since spread to the grade school system, as school systems try to rework their curricula to introduce students to diversity earlier – often on the grounds that it is important for minority students to see themselves represented in the classroom. Studies estimated 46 million Americans ages 14 to 24 to be the most diverse generation in American society. In 2009 and 2010, controversy erupted in Texas as the state's curriculum committee made several changes to the state's requirements, often at the expense of minorities. They chose to juxtapose Abraham Lincoln's inaugural address with that of Confederate president Jefferson Davis; they debated removing Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and labor-leader Cesar Chavez and rejected calls to include more Hispanic figures, in spite of the high Hispanic population in the state.
Effect of diversity on civic engagement
In a 2007 study by Robert Putnam encompassing 30,000 people across the US found that diversity had a negative effect on civic engagement. The greater the diversity, the fewer people voted, the less they volunteered for community projects and trust among neighbours was only half that of homogenous communities.
Venezuela is the home to a variety of ethnic groups, with an estimated population of 32 million. Their population is composed of approximately 68% Mestizo, which means of mixed race. Venezuelan culture is mainly composed by the mixture of their indigenous people, Spanish and African. There was a heavy influence of Spaniard culture due to the Spanish Conquest, which influence their religion, language, traditions. African influence can be seen on their music, with the drum usage. While Spanish is Venezuela's main language, there is more than 40 indigenous languages spoken til this day.
The European Union is facing unprecedented demographic changes (an aging population, low birth rates, changing family structures and migration). According to the European Commission, it is important, both at EU and national level, to review and adapt existing policies. Following a public debate, a 2006 EU policy paper identified five key policy responses to manage demographic change, among them receiving and integrating migrants into Europe.
Historically, Europe has always been a mixture of Latin, Slavic, Germanic, Uralic, Celtic, Hellenic, Illyrian, Thracian and other cultures influenced by the importation of Jewish, Christian, Muslim and other belief systems; although the continent was supposedly unified by the super-position of Imperial Roman Christianity, it is accepted that geographic and cultural differences continued from antiquity into the modern age.
In the nineteenth century, the ideology of nationalism transformed the way Europeans thought about the state. Existing states were broken up and new ones created; the new nation-states were founded on the principle that each nation is entitled to its own sovereignty and to engender, protect, and preserve its own unique culture and history. Unity, under this ideology, is seen as an essential feature of the nation and the nation-state; unity of descent, unity of culture, unity of language, and often unity of religion. The nation-state constitutes a culturally homogeneous society, although some national movements recognised regional differences.
Where cultural unity was insufficient, it was encouraged and enforced by the state. The nineteenth century nation-states developed an array of policies – the most important was compulsory primary education in the national language. The language itself was often standardised by a linguistic academy, and regional languages were ignored or suppressed. Some nation-states pursued violent policies of cultural assimilation and even ethnic cleansing.
Some countries in the European Union have introduced policies for "social cohesion", "integration", and (sometimes) "assimilation". The policies include:
Compulsory courses and/or tests on national history, on the constitution and the legal system (e.g., the computer-based test for individuals seeking naturalisation in the UK named Life in the United Kingdom test)
Introduction of an official national history, such as the national canon defined for the Netherlands by the van Oostrom Commission, and promotion of that history (e.g., by exhibitions about national heroes)
Tests designed to elicit "unacceptable" values. In Baden-Württemberg, immigrants are asked what they would do if their son says he is a homosexual (the desired answer is that they would accept it).
Since its establishment in the seventh century, Bulgaria has hosted many religions, ethnic groups and nations. The capital city Sofia is the only European city that has peacefully functioning, within walking distance of 300 metres, four Places of worship of the major religions: Eastern Orthodox (St Nedelya Church), Islam (Banya Bashi Mosque), Roman Catholicism (St. Joseph Cathedral), and Orthodox Judaism (Sofia Synagogue, the third-largest synagogue in Europe).
Furthermore, unlike some other Nazi Germany allies or German-occupied countries excluding Denmark, Bulgaria managed to save its entire 48,000-strong Jewish population during World War II from deportation to Nazi concentration camps. According to Dr Marinova-Christidi, the main reason for the efforts of Bulgarian people to save their Jewish population during WWII is that within the region, they "co-existed for centuries with other religions" – giving it a unique multicultural and multiethnic history.
Consequently, within the Balkan region, Bulgaria has become an example for multiculturalism in terms of variety of religions, artistic creativity and ethnicity. Its largest ethnic minority groups, Turks and Roma, enjoy wide political representation. In 1984, following a campaign by the Communist regime for a forcible change of the Islamic names of the Turkish minority, an underground organisation called «National Liberation Movement of the Turks in Bulgaria» was formed which headed the Turkish community's opposition movement. On 4 January 1990, the activists of the movement registered an organisation with the legal name «Movement for Rights and Freedom» (MRF) (in Bulgarian: Движение за права и свободи: in Turkish: Hak ve Özgürlükler Hareketi) in the Bulgarian city of Varna. At the moment of registration, it had 33 members, at present, according to the organisation's website, 68,000 members plus 24,000 in the organisation's youth wing   . In 2012, Bulgarian Turks were represented at every level of government: local, with MRF having mayors in 35 municipalities, at parliamentary level with MRF having 38 deputies (14% of the votes in Parliamentary elections for 2009–13) and at executive level, where there is one Turkish minister, Vezhdi Rashidov. 21 Roma political organisations were founded between 1997-2003 in Bulgaria.
In October 2010, Angela Merkel told a meeting of younger members of her centrist Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party at Potsdam, near Berlin, that attempts to build a multicultural society in Germany had "utterly failed", stating: "The concept that we are now living side by side and are happy about it does not work". She continued to say that immigrants should integrate and adopt Germany's culture and values. This has added to a growing debate within Germany on the levels of immigration, its effect on Germany and the degree to which Muslim immigrants have integrated into German society. In 2015, Merkel again criticized multiculturalism on the grounds that it leads to parallel societies.
Luxembourg has one of the highest foreign-born populations in Europe, foreigners account for nearly half of the country's total population. The majority of foreigners are from: Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, and Portugal. In total, 170 different nationalities make up the population of Luxembourg, out of this; 86% are of European descent. The official languages of Luxembourg are German, French, and Luxembourgish all of which are supported in the Luxembourg government and education system. In 2005, Luxembourg officially promoted and implemented the objectives of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. This Convention affirms multicultural policies in Luxembourg and creates political awareness of cultural diversity.
Multiculturalism in the Netherlands began with major increases in immigration to the Netherlands during the mid-1950s and 1960s. As a consequence, an official national policy of multiculturalism was adopted in the early-1980s. Different groups could themselves determine religious and cultural matters, while state authorities would handle matters of housing and work policy.
In the 1990s, the public debate were generally optimistic on immigration and the prevailing view was that a multicultural policy would reduce the social economic disparities over time.
Lord Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, made a distinction between tolerance and multiculturalism, citing the Netherlands as a tolerant, rather than multicultural, society. In June 2011, the First Rutte cabinet said the Netherlands would turn away from multiculturalism: "Dutch culture, norms and values must be dominant" Minister Donner said.
Multiculturalism in Scandinavia has centered on discussions about marriage, dress, religious schools, Muslim funeral rites and gender equality. Forced marriages have been widely debated in Denmark, Sweden and Norway but the countries differ in policy and responses by authorities.
Despite differing approaches by the three countries with Sweden being the most permissive and Denmark the most restrictive, all three countries have, according to right-wing politicians failed to integrate minorities and have similar levels of unemployment among minorities.
A 2018 study found that increases in local ethnic diversity in Denmark caused "rightward shifts in election outcomes by shifting electoral support away from traditional “big government” left‐wing parties and towards anti‐immigrant nationalist parties."
For decades, Danish immigration and integration policy was built upon the assumption that with the right kind of help, immigrants and their descendands will eventually tend to the same levels of education and employments as Danes. This assumption was disproved by a 2019 report by the Danish Immigration Service and the Ministry of Education. The report found that while the second generation non-Western immigrants do better than the first generation, the third generation of immigrants with non-Western background do no better education and employment wise than the second generation. One of the reasons was that second generation immigrants from non-Western countries marry someone from their country of origin and so Danish is not spoken at home which disadvantages children in school. Thereby the process of integration has to start from the beginning for each generation.
Multiculturalism was the subject of public debate in the 1990s when the children of the first generation of immigrants became adults and cultural practices such as honor culture and forced marriages became more visible. The debates during the period, were less marked by cultural sensitivity compared to 2017.
Sweden has from the early 1970s experienced a greater share of non-Western immigration than the other Scandinavian countries, which consequently have placed multiculturalism on the political agenda for a longer period of time.
Sweden was the first country to adopt an official policy of multiculturalism in Europe. In May 1975, a unanimous Swedish parliament passed an act on a new multiculturalist immigrant and ethnic minority policy put forward by the social democratic government, that explicitly rejected the ideal ethnic homogeneity and the policy of assimilation. The three main principles of the new policy were equality, partnership and freedom of choice. The explicit policy aim of the freedom of choice principle was to create the opportunity for minority groups in Sweden to retain their own languages and cultures. From the mid-1970s, the goal of enabling the preservation of minorities and creating a positive attitude towards the new officially endorsed multicultural society among the majority population became incorporated into the Swedish constitution as well as cultural, educational and media policies. Despite the anti-multiculturalist protestations of the Sweden Democrats, multiculturalism remains official policy in Sweden.
A 2008 study which involved questionnaires sent to 5,000 people, showed that less than a quarter of the respondents (23%) wanted to live in areas characterised by cultural, ethnic and social diversity.
A 2014 study published by Gävle University College showed that 38% of the population never interacted with anyone from Africa and 20% never interacted with any non-Europeans. The study concluded that while physical distance to the country of origin, also religion and other cultural expressions are significant for the perception of cultural familiarity. In general, peoples with Christianity as the dominant religion were perceived to be culturally closer than peoples from Muslim countries.
A 2017 study by Lund University also found that social trust was lower among people in regions with high levels of past non-Nordic immigration than among people in regions with low levels of past immigration. The erosive effect on trust was more pronounced for immigration from culturally distant countries.
In Serbia, there are 19 officially recognised ethnic groups with a status of national minorities. Vojvodina is an autonomous province of Serbia, located in the northern part of the country. It has a multiethnic and multicultural identity; there are more than 26 ethnic groups in the province, which has six official languages. Largest ethnic groups in Vojvodina are Serbs (67%), Hungarians (13%), Slovaks, Croats, Romani, Romanians, Montenegrins, Bunjevci, Rusyns.
Radio Television of Vojvodina broadcasts program in ten local languages. The project by the Government of AP Vojvodina titled "Promotion of Multiculturalism and Tolerance in Vojvodina", whose primary goal is to foster the cultural diversity and develop the atmosphere of interethnic tolerance among the citizens of Vojvodina, has been successfully implemented since 2005. Serbia is continually working on improving its relationship and inclusion of minorities in its effort to gain full accession to the European Union. Serbia has initiated talks through Stabilisation and Association Agreement on 7 November 2007.
Multicultural policies were adopted by local administrations from the 1970s and 1980s onwards. In 1997, the newly elected Labour government committed to a multiculturalist approach at a national level, but after 2001, there was something of a backlash, led by centre-left commentators such as David Goodhart and Trevor Phillips. The Government then embraced a policy of community cohesion instead. In 2011, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron said in a speech that "state multiculturalism has failed".
Multiculturalism has been a characteristic feature of the island of Mauritius. This is mainly because of colonization that has been present from, the English, the French, and the Dutch. However, the Mauritian society includes people from many different ethnic and religious groups: Hindu, Muslim and Indo-Mauritians, Mauritian Creoles (of African and Malagasy descent), Buddhist and Roman Catholic Sino-Mauritians and Franco-Mauritians (descendants of the original French colonists). Mauritius has embraced intertwining of cultures from the origin of the country, and has coined the term fruit-salad, which is a much more appealing term in comparison to melting-pot showing that they were not forced to these cultures.
According to the 1961 Census of India, there are 1652 indigenous languages in the country. The culture of India has been shaped by its long history, unique geography and diverse demography. India's languages, religions, dance, music, architecture and customs differ from place to place within the country, but nevertheless possess a commonality. The culture of India is an amalgamation of these diverse sub-cultures spread all over the Indian subcontinent and traditions that are several millennia old. The previously prevalent Indian caste system describes the social stratification and social restrictions in the Indian subcontinent, in which social classes are defined by thousands of endogamous hereditary groups, often termed jātis or castes.
Religiously, Hindus form the majority, followed by Muslims. The statistics are: Hindu (80.5%), Muslim (13.4%), Christian (2.3%), Sikh (2.1%), Buddhist, Bahá'í, Jain, Jew and Parsi populations. Linguistically, the two main language families in India are Indo-Aryan (a branch of Indo-European) and Dravidian. In India's northeast, people speaking Sino-Tibetan group of languages such as Meitei (Meitei-lon) recognized by the Indian constitution and Austroasiatic languages are commonly found. India (officially) follows a three-language policy. Hindi (spoken in the form of Hindustani) is the official federal language, English has the federal status of associate/subsidiary official language and each state has its own state official language (in the Hindi sprachraum, this reduces to bilingualism). Further, India does not have any national language. The Republic of India's state boundaries are largely drawn based on linguistic groups; this decision led to the preservation and continuation of local ethno-linguistic sub-cultures, except for the Hindi sprachraum which is itself divided into many states. Thus, most states differ from one another in language, culture, cuisine, clothing, literary style, architecture, music and festivities.
India has encountered religiously motivated violence, such as the Moplah Riots, the Bombay riots, the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the 2002 Gujarat riots, the 2012 Assam violence, and the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots. This has resulted from traditionally disadvantaged communities in public employment such as the policing of the same locality, apprehension of owners in giving properties for sale or rent and of society in accepting inter-marriages.
Pluralism, diversity and multiculturalism is a daily fact of life in Indonesia. There are over 300 ethnic groups in Indonesia. 95% of those are of Native Indonesian ancestry. The Javanese are the largest ethnic group in Indonesia who make up nearly 42% of the total population. The Sundanese, Malay, and Madurese are the next largest groups in the country. There are also more than 700 living languages spoken in Indonesia and although predominantly Muslim the country also has large Christian and Hindu populations.
Indonesia's national motto, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika ("Unity in Diversity" lit. "many, yet one") enshrined in Pancasila the national ideology, articulates the diversity that shapes the country. The government nurtures and promotes the diversity of Indonesian local culture; adopting a pluralist approach.
Due to migration within Indonesia (as part of government transmigration programs or otherwise), there are significant populations of ethnic groups who reside outside of their traditional regions. The Javanese for example, moved from their traditional homeland in Java to the other parts of the archipelago. The expansion of the Javanese and their influence throughout Indonesia has raised the issue of Javanization, although Minangkabau, Malay, Madurese, Bugis and Makassar people, as a result of their merantau (migrating) culture are also quite widely distributed throughout the Indonesian archipelago, while Chinese Indonesians can be found in most urban areas. Because of urbanization, major Indonesian cities such as Greater Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Palembang, Medan and Makassar have attracted large numbers of Indonesians from various ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds. Jakarta in particular has almost all Indonesian ethnic groups represented.
However, this transmigration program and close interactions between people of different cultural backgrounds caused socio-cultural problems, as the inter-ethnics interactions have not always been conducted harmoniously. After the fall of Suharto in 1998 into the 2000s, numbers of inter-ethnic and inter-religious clashes erupted in Indonesia. Like the clashes between native Dayak tribes against Madurese transmigrants in Kalimantan during Sambas riots in 1999 and the Sampit conflict in 2001. There were also clashes between Muslims and Christians, such as violence erupted in Poso between 1998 and into 2000, and violences in Maluku between 1999 and into 2002. Nevertheless, Indonesia today still struggles and has managed to maintain unity and inter-cultural harmony, through a national adherence of pro-pluralism policy of Pancasila; promoted and enforced by the government and its people.
Chinese Indonesians are the largest foreign-origin minority that has resided in Indonesia for generations. Despite centuries of acculturation with native Indonesians, because of their disproportionate influence on Indonesian economy, and alleged question of national loyalty, Chinese Indonesians have suffered discrimination. The Suharto Orde Baru or New Order adopted a forced assimilation policy; which indicated that Chinese cultural elements were unacceptable. Chinese Indonesians were forced to adopt Indonesian-sounding names, and the use of Chinese culture and language was banned. The violence targeting Chinese Indonesians erupted during riots in 1998. As the looting and destruction took place, a number of Chinese Indonesians, as well as looters, were killed. The Chinese Indonesians were treated as the scapegoat of 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, a result of ongoing discrimination and segregation policies enforced during Suharto's New Order regime. Soon after the fourth Indonesian President, Abdurrahman Wahid came into power in 1999, he quickly abolished some of the discriminatory laws in efforts to promote acceptance and to improve inter-racial relationships, such as abolishing the ban on Chinese culture; allowing Chinese traditions to be practised freely. Two years later President Megawati Sukarnoputri declared that the Chinese New Year (Imlek) would be marked as a national holiday from 2003. Today, Chinese Indonesians enjoy the same rights as other Indonesians.
Japanese society, with its ideology of homogeneity, has traditionally rejected any need to recognize ethnic differences in Japan, even as such claims have been rejected by such ethnic minorities as the Ainu and Ryukyuan people. In 2005, former Japanese Prime Minister and current Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso described Japan as a "one civilization, one language, one culture and one race" nation. However, there are "International Society" NPOs funded by local governments throughout Japan.
According to Harvard University professor Theodore Bestor, Japan does look very homogeneous from a distant perspective, but in fact there are a number of very significant minority groups – ethnically different minority groups – in Japan today, such as the already mentioned Ainu and Ryukyuan people.
Kazakhstan is among the most multicultural countries in Eurasia, with sizeable populations of ethnic Kazakhs, Russians, Uzbeks, Ukrainians, Uighurs, Tatars, Germans and more. Kazakhstan is one of a few countries in post-Soviet territories that managed to avoid interethnic clashes and conflicts in the period of USSR’s final crisis and its eventual breakup. In 1995, Kazakhstan created the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan, an advisory body designed to represent the country's ethnic minorities.
Malaysia is a multiethnic country, with Malays making up the majority, close to 58% of the population. About 25% of the population are Malaysians of Chinese descent. Malaysians of Indian descent comprise about 7% of the population. The remaining 10% comprises:
Native East Malaysians, namely Bajau, Bruneian, Bidayuh, Dusun, Iban, Kadazan, Kedayan, Melanau, Orang Ulu, Sarawakian Malays, etc.
Other native tribes of Peninsular Malaysia, such as the Orang Asli and Siamese people, and
Non-native tribes of Peninsular Malaysia such as the Chettiars, the Peranakan and the Portuguese.
The Malaysian New Economic Policy or NEP serves as a form of racial equalization. It promotes structural changes in various aspects of life from education to economic to social integration. Established after the 13 May racial riots of 1969, it sought to address the significant imbalance in the economic sphere where the minority Chinese population had substantial control over commercial activity in the country.
The Malay Peninsula has a long history of international trade contacts, influencing its ethnic and religious composition. Predominantly Malays before the 18th century, the ethnic composition changed dramatically when the British introduced new industries, and imported Chinese and Indian labor. Several regions in the then British Malaya such as Penang, Malacca and Singapore became Chinese dominated. Until the riots 1969, co-existence between the three ethnicities (and other minor groups) was largely peaceful, although the three main racial groups for the most part lived in separate communities – the Malays in the villages, the Chinese in the urban areas, and the Indians in the towns and plantation. More Malays however have moved into the cities since the 1970s, and the proportion of the non-Malays have been decreasing continually, especially the Chinese, due in large part to lower birth-rate and emigration as a result of institutionalized discrimination.
Preceding independence of the Federation of Malaya, a social contract was negotiated as the basis of a new society. The contract as reflected in the 1957 Malayan Constitution and the 1963 Malaysian Constitution states that the immigrant groups are granted citizenship, and Malays' special rights are guaranteed. This is often referred to the Bumiputra policy.
These pluralist policies have come under pressure from racialist Malay parties, who oppose perceived subversion of Malay rights. The issue is sometimes related to the controversial status of religious freedom in Malaysia.
Because of immigration, Singapore has a Chinese majority population with significant minority populations of Malays and Indians (predominantly Tamils). Other prominent smaller groups include Peranakans, Eurasians and Europeans. Besides English, Singapore recognizes three other languages—Malay, Mandarin Chinese and Tamil. English was established as the medium of instruction in schools during the 1960s and 1970s and is the language of trade and government while the other three languages are taught as second languages ("mother tongues"). Besides being a multilingual country, Singapore also acknowledges festivals celebrated by the three main ethnic communities.
During British colonial rule, ethnic enclaves such as Geylang, Chinatown, and Little India were enforced. Presently (2010), remnants of colonial ethnic concentration still exist but housing in Singapore is governed by the Ethnic Integration Policy, which ensures an even ethnic distribution throughout Singapore. A similar policy exists in politics as all Group Representation Constituencies are required to field at least one candidate from an ethnic minority.
However, the word "multiculturalism" is increasingly heard in South Korea. In 2007, Han Geon-Soo, Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kangwon National University, published an article entitled "Multicultural Korea: Celebration or Challenge of Multiethnic Shift in Contemporary Korea?", noting: "As the increase of foreign migrants in [South] Korea transforms a single-ethnic homogeneous [South] Korean society into multiethnic and multicultural one, [the South] Korean government and the civil society pay close attention to multiculturalism as an alternative value to their policy and social movement." He argued, however, that "the current discourses and concerns on multiculturalism in [South] Korea" lacked "the constructive and analytical concepts for transforming a society".
The same year, Stephen Castles of the International Migration Institute argued:
- "Korea no longer has to decide whether it wants to become a multicultural society. It made that decision years ago – perhaps unconsciously – when it decided to be a full participant in the emerging global economy. It confirmed that decision when it decided to actively recruit foreign migrants to meet the economic and demographic needs of a fast-growing society. Korea is faced by a different decision today: what type of multicultural society does it want to be?"
The Korea Times suggested in 2009 that South Korea was likely to become a multicultural society. In 2010, an opinion editorial written by Peter Underwood for the JoongAng Ilbo stated: "Media in [South] Korea is abuzz with the new era of multiculturalism. With more than one million foreigners in [South] Korea, 2 percent of the population comes from other cultures." He further opined:
- "If you stay too long, Koreans become uncomfortable with you. [...] Having a two percent foreign population unquestionably causes ripples, but having one million temporary foreign residents does not make Korea a multicultural society. [...] In many ways, this homogeneity is one of Korea’s greatest strengths. Shared values create harmony. Sacrifice for the nation is a given. Difficult and painful political and economic initiatives are endured without discussion or debate. It is easy to anticipate the needs and behavior of others. It is the cornerstone that has helped Korea survive adversity. But there is a downside, too. [...] Koreans are immersed in their culture and are thus blind to its characteristics and quirks. Examples of group think are everywhere. Because Koreans share values and views, they support decisions even when they are obviously bad. Multiculturalism will introduce contrasting views and challenge existing assumptions. While it will undermine the homogeneity, it will enrich Koreans with a better understanding of themselves."
Turkey is a country that borders both Europe and Asia, therefore placing it as the multicultural intersection for Eurasia – thus including people of Armenian, Jewish, Kurds, Arabs, Turks, and Persian descent. This cultural influence mainly stems from the Iranian culture, which spread through multiple ways but mainly during the early modern period where Iranian and Ottoman contact flourished and the influence of the Kurds, an Iranian ethnic group, on Turkish culture. However, it also entails influence from Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim influence. In recent years there has been an increase of diversity acceptance in Turkey, mainly because there was fear of losing values of the non-existent Ottoman Empire. However, just after the turn of the century, Turkey has embraced its multicultural location and has even began to influence other countries. With Turkey having roots of Islam they have been provided a path for Islam to be accepted into neighboring countries in Europe.
South Africa is the fifth-most populous country and one of the most developed countries in Africa. South Africa also officially recognises 11 languages including English, making it third behind Bolivia and India in most official languages. The three most common languages are Zulu, Xhosa, and Afrikaans. Though South Africa's cultural traditions may decline as it becomes more and more Westernised, it is still known for its diverse culture.
Officially known as the Republic of Cameroon, Cameroon is found in central Africa consisting of a diverse geographical and cultural area that makes it one of the most diverse countries known today. Ranging from mountains, deserts, and rainforests, to coast-lands and savanna grasslands, its diverse geography makes a large diverse population possible. This diverse geography resembles Africa as a whole and due to this, most people commonly label Cameroon as “Africa in Miniature”. Americas
Demographics and Official Languages
Before Cameroon’s independence, it was under British and French colonial rule from 1916-1961. Upon gaining sovereignty, a major colonial influence was evident, having both English and French become the national language to roughly 25,000,000 Cameroonian residents. Apart from these two major languages, a new language consisting of a mixture of French, English, and Pidgin known as Frananglais gained popularity among Cameroonian residents.
Although these three languages are the most common in Cameroon, there are still approximately 273 indigenous languages being spoken throughout the country, making it not only culturally diverse but linguistically as well. Among those who speak these indigenous languages are people from Bantu, Sudanic, Baka, Wodaabe (or Mbororo) and even primitive hunter-gatherer groups known as Pygmies.
Indigenous Peoples' Rights
Although native to Cameroonian land, they faced constant discrimination much like other indigenous groups around the world. The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the United Nations' Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007. What this allowed was the protection of land and resource rights and prevented others from exploiting or violating them. In 2016, a group of indigenous Baka and Bagyeli groups united to form Gbabandi. Gbabandi allowed these indigenous groups to have a form of representation and a declared list of requirements that people of Cameroon had to abide by. Among these requirements were guaranteed land rights, peoples' consent to the usage of their sacred land, traditional chiefs and the ability to participate in "local, regional, and national levels" of political and economic matters. As a result, this established a sense of justice and acknowledgment among indigenous groups in Cameroon and posed for future battles for indigenous peoples' rights.
Morocco is located in Northern Africa near the Mediterranean Sea, which then connects to Europe. Morocco is a prime location for a multiculturalism, as it has much influence by neighbouring countries. Morocco has been invaded and colonised by many countries throughout the centuries, which means that they have experienced an influence of many cultures. Some of these invaders include the French, the Spaniards, the Arabs, and several more countries. This has led to the country becoming not only multicultural, but also multilingual. Officially the language of Morocco is Arabic, but throughout the country many people speak, French, Spanish, Arabic, and most recently acknowledging Berber as a language. There has been much outside influence of multiculturalism in Morocco, but they have embraced these cultures.
The next country to adopt an official policy of multiculturalism after Canada was Australia, a country with similar immigration situations and similar policies, for example the formation of the Special Broadcasting Service. The Australian government retains multiculturalism in policy, and as a defining aspect of Australia today.
The White Australia Policy was quietly dismantled after World War II by various changes to immigration policy, although the official policy of multiculturalism was not formally introduced until 1972. The election of John Howard's Liberal-National Coalition government in 1996 was a major watershed for Australian multiculturalism. Howard had long been a critic of multiculturalism, releasing his One Australia policy in the late 1980s. A Practical Reference to Religious Diversity for Operational Police and Emergency Services was a publication of the Australasian Police Multicultural Advisory Bureau designed to offer guidance to police and emergency services personnel on how religious affiliation can affect their contact with the public. The first edition was published in 1999. The first edition covered Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish and Sikh faiths with participation of representatives of the various religions. The second edition added Christian, Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander religions and the Bahá'í Faith to the list of religions was published in 2002.
New Zealand is a sovereign Oceanic country that adopted its multicultural policies post World War II. The country used to have immigration policies similar to Australia's White Australia Policy, and The United States Immigration Act of 1924, but it would later follow suit with Australia and Canada in the 1970s and adopt similar multicultural policies. The relaxation of migration led to an influx of new migration to New Zealand in the 1980s. This led to an increase of Asian and Pacific islander peoples on the island, and ultimately a more diverse European population. In 1985 the Law Commission Act was passed which required the New Zealand Law Commission to review laws while taking into account both the indigenous Māori of New Zealand and New Zealand's multicultural character. In 2001 the New Zealand government opened an Office of Ethnic Affairs to advise its local governments on the advancement of ethnic diversity and affairs of its multicultural communities. In 1987 New Zealand officially recognized the indigenous Māori language as a national language. The revitalization in the Māori language led to its immersion in schools and television broadcast. Many landmarks on the island have both their Māori and English names officially recognized. Māori makes up 3.7% of the population's speaking language. A 2013 census of New Zealand's population showed that 74% of the population identifies ethnically as European, while the latter 15% majority identify as Māori. The remainder identify as Asian, Arab, African, Pacific Islander and Latin American.
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is one of the most multicultural countries in the world. This Oceanian country is home to over eight million people that are divided into hundreds of different indigenous ethnic groups and cultures with over 820 different indigenous languages. A majority of the indigenous groups are Papuans who have ancestors that lived in New Guinea over ten thousand years ago. The latter majority are Austronesians whose ancestors arrived less than four thousand years ago. The island's population is also made up of many expatriate citizens from China, Australia, Indonesia, Europe and the Philippines. In 1975 the island population was found to be made up of 40,000 of these diverse expatriate citizens. Despite the large amount of culturally diverse locations on the island, the Kuk Early Agricultural Site is the only UNESCO World heritage location.