Challenging Multiculturalism: European Models of Diversity

Challenging Multiculturalism: European Models of Diversity

Challenging Multiculturalism: European Models of Diversity

Challenging Multiculturalism: European Models of Diversity

Synopsis

In recent years, European political leaders from Angela Merkel to David Cameron have discarded the term multiculturalism and now express scepticism, critique and even hostility towards multicultural ways of organising their societies. Yet they are unprepared to reverse the diversity existing in their states. These contradictory choices have different political consequences in the 11 European countries examined in this book: Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Sweden and Turkey. The future of European liberalism is being played out as multicultural notions of belonging, inclusion, tolerance and the national home are brought into question.

Excerpt

For some years now in France, young people of foreign origin have carried their electoral cards on their persons for an unusual reason. It is believed that brandishing these cards in public reduces the chances that these members of visible minorities will be subject to violence, whether at the hands of ‘ethically French’ right-wing hooligans or the police. Une carte électorate is, then, a talisman - in addition to it constituting a right to vote. The card is an affirmation that the bearer participates in the life of the nation, thereby partially satisfying the French Republican ideal of citizenship.

In 2012 the French Socialist Party captured the presidency and the legislature by gaining the support of the country’s multicultural communities. Young people of migrant background used their electoral cards to vote - and to help change the government. The irony is that across the political spectrum in France a consensus exists that the multicultural model of managing diversity is not as effective as the colour-blind Republican approach. At a time when across much of Europe multiculturalism has been discredited as an idea whose time has passed, the purportedly assimilationist French approach has helped infuse cultural diversity with new-found power.

The challenges to multiculturalism in Europe are manifold. Among agents of change are grassroots political movements, whether made up of far-right anti-immigrant - and most of the time also anti-multicultural - movements, or of communities of immigrant or minority backgrounds. But it has been the questioning of multicultural policy by Europe’s political elites that has raised the stakes for managing diversity differently: not many politicians today run for election championing the multicultural approach.

This book weighs the many challenges emanating from diverse actors to the model of managing diversity through recognizing distinct cultural communities. These challenges are chronicled in states where multiculturalism has never been official policy, such . . .

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