Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

Comparative Analysis of Canadian Multiculturalism Policy and the Multiculturalism Policies of Other Countries

Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

Comparative Analysis of Canadian Multiculturalism Policy and the Multiculturalism Policies of Other Countries

Article excerpt


What is multiculturalism?

The concept of multiculturalism has acquired many meanings over the past 40 years that vary across societies. In the 1970s, Berry, Kalin and Taylor (1977) de­fined multiculturalism as having two equally important emphases: (i) the presence of ethnocultural diversity in a society and (ii) the presence of equitable participa­tion by all cultural groups in that society. With respect to the first aspect, they made distinctions among the three different meanings of the ethnocultural diver­sity component of multiculturalism. First, multiculturalism is a demographic fact: most societies around the world are now culturally diverse. Second, multicultural­ism is an ideology: individuals and groups hold views about their acceptance or rejection of this diversity. Third, some governments articulate public policies and develop programs addressing the acceptability of diversity as well as its promo­tion. These three features are closely related. If diversity is not present, there is no need to be concerned with what people think about it and no need for govern­mental action.

Although multiculturalism is sometimes thought to only refer to the presence of cultural diversity in a society, the second core element of multiculturalism (eq­uitable participation) is equally important. A view of multiculturalism that consid­ers only the existence of cultural diversity may lead to the emergence of separate cultural groups within a diverse society. Diversity without equal participation will lead to separation or segregation; equal participation without diversity will result in assimilation or the pursuit of the melting pot. In the absence of diversity and equity, marginalization and exclusion will likely occur, but when both diversity and equity are present, integration and multiculturalism are found.

Multiculturalism as Demographic Diversity

Ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic diversity are commonplace in most coun­tries. Worldwide, Africa and Asia are home to the most diverse nations, whereas Japan and the Koreas are among the most ethnically homogenous. Parts of North and South America (e.g., Canada and Peru) are highly diverse, and there is a wide variation in the Middle East. Although diversity is increasing in the European Un­ion, most European countries are relatively homogenous (Alseina et al., 2003). To illustrate the extent of this diversity, Figure 1 presents data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. This figure is based on the probability that two randomly selected people in a society will belong to the same ethnic group; higher scores indicate greater diversity. This figure shows that Canada, Spain and Belgium are the most diverse societies, while Japan, (South) Korea and Iceland are the least.


diversity: Ethnic fractionalization in OECD countries

[Figure omitted, see PDF]

Figure 1. Cultural diversity: Ethnic fractionalization in OECD countries (2000)

Immigration enhances cultural diversity and has recently been a contentious issue in many countries (such as the United States of America, Europe and Aus­tralasia). In these countries, diversity has been linked to a range of negative social outcomes, including increased anti-immigrant sentiments, perceived threat, and hostile ethnic attitudes (Bloemraad & Wright, 2014; Dustmann, Fabbri, & Preston, 2011; Quillian, 1995; Schneider, 2008). Putnam's (2007) controversial research in the United States concluded that immigration and ethnic diversity reduce social solidarity, reduce trust and altruism, and are associated with a decline in friend­ships; however, these claims have not been widely replicated in international re­search (e.g., Kesler & Bloemraad, 2010). In contrast, increasing diversity does not inevitably lead to conflict or reductions in social capital. For example, Kalin and Berry (1982) examined Canadian neighborhoods, showing that positive attitudes toward ethnic out-groups increased in proportion to the size of the group in the neighborhood. …

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