Multiculturalism and Intergroup Relations

By James S. Frideres | Go to book overview

avoided without the risk of substantial losses or damages for state organizations and their officials.

Fourth, the formal mechanisms favoured by public organizations will tend to be multicultural in nature, since appearing to favour one or more groups over others can easily become a source of difficult problems. This will tend to be the case unless a special basis exists to institutionalize relationships with a particular group (for example, the case of Native Peoples). Otherwise, relationships with individual groups will tend to be of an informal nature.

Fifth, to the extent that the institutionalization of mechanisms of access is costly (in monetary or nonmonetary terms), public institutions tend to prefer ad hoc mechanisms or procedures to deal with particular situations rather than permanent bodies or structures.

Sixth and last, public institutions will tend to favour the creation of mechanisms that are as much as possible directly under their control. This, of course, is the case for ethnic organizations as well. The outcome of the control structure of whatever mechanisms are established will be the result of bargaining between them.

Empirical studies describing existing mechanisms and analyzing the conditions under which and the process through which they have been established are needed. Also, attempts to institute mechanisms of ethnic access that failed should be examined carefully, as well as those that were instituted and later abandoned. Attention would also need to be paid to the variety of organizational forms that have been put in place and to the reasons for the adoption of those forms as opposed to others. An important matter not dealt with in this chapter concerns the conditions for the effectiveness of various organizational channels for the expression and consideration of ethnic interests. Obviously, all the various mechanisms for the representation of interests are not likely to be equally effective in assuring that these are routinely taken into account. Such empirical studies would increase considerably our understanding of the possibilities and limits of institutional multiculturalism.


Notes
1.
On the first dimension, see Edelman ( 1971), Gusfield ( 1981), and Breton ( 1984).
2.
This notion can also be applied to nongovernmental institutions.
3.
On this question, see Shorter and Tilly ( 1974), Tilly ( 1978), and Ragin, Coverman, and Hayward ( 1982).

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