Politics in Minutes (2016)

Multiculturalism

One of the hopes of nations that were founded on a notion of civic rather than ethnic national identity is that it would promote inclusiveness, and minimize discrimination against ethnic minorities. Implicit in this idea, for many states, was a notion of homogeneity or uniformity, with the nation as a ‘melting pot’ in which different ethnic groups would blend together. But what emerged in many nations with diverse ethnic populations was a multicultural society, in which people retained their ethnic identity (customs, religion and language) within the wider civic nationality.

Multiculturalism can minimize ethnic discrimination and xenophobia, when the diversity of ethnic groups is recognized as a complement to civic nationalism. Acknowledging the right to observe different cultural customs can increase tensions, particularly if institutions, such as faith schools, separate groups from the wider community, and minority and especially immigrant groups can become ‘ghettoized’.

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