Multiculturalism and Arts Policy Research
British cultural critic Raymond Williams, throughout his extensive writings, 1 has explored the concept of culture in great depth. In doing so, he has examined the sociocultural contexts that have shaped the formulation and usage of both normative and descriptive definitions of culture. Rather than dismissing these definitions as merely historically conditioned expressions of bias, he has attempted to understand each as yielding potential insights into the fashioning of a modern concept of culture. I propose to work in a similar manner in seeking a descriptive definition of the term multiculturalism. This approach is based on the belief that no single discipline or school of thought has a monopoly on insights into the concept of multiculturalism. Many stipulative and programmatic definitions of multiculturalism, culture, and ethnicity can be found, but the intent here, at least at this point, is not to seek some kind of rapproachment between different uses of these terms. Instead, my intent is to construct a descriptive definition of multiculturalism, one that will serve to orient subsequent discussions in this chapter and throughout the book.
A necessary first step in formulating a descriptive definition of multiculturalism is to examine the root term of culture. Definitions of culture, historically, have been proposed in two primary forms of discourse--in the course of formulating explanatory, interpretive, or predictive theories of culture; and in critiques of the quality and character of culture and accounts of conditions that diminish a culture's quality. Obviously, given the diverse purposes of theorists from different disciplines, schools of thought, and historical periods, and the different assumptions and premises utilized in their arguments, the content and form of these definitions vary considerably. But each was formulated, directly or indirectly, in response to one or more basic questions: In what does a culture consist? Is it a property of individuals, a group of persons, a society, and/or a nation? If