Multiculturalism and Intergroup Relations

By James S. Frideres | Go to book overview

hierarchy are still occupied by the members of charter groups almost as a natural right. Visible immigrants encounter in addition the obstacle of racism. However, multiculturalism so far has contributed little to open mobility channels for newcomers eager to utilize their equal rights in the public realm.

Yet it would seem doubtful whether affirmative action for immigrants is needed, as a growing demand asserts. 8 It is a stigmatized minority, such as Native Indians, who undoubtedly benefit from legislative action (including contract compliance and other means) to uplift the communities and break the trap. Atomized immigrants, on the other hand, could easily be set back in their attempts to successfully integrate by legislated advantages for manufactured ethnic formations. Unlike the European migrants, who all belong to one occupational stratum, the immigrants in the New World are no longer confined to one class. The occupational and educational diversity of the new immigrants would make it impossible to single out those deserving state support from those who do not on the basis of ethnicity. In the end, it would most likely be those who need it least who would benefit most from affirmative action.

The overview of five types of ethnic interaction should not suggest a static picture. Scapegoat minorities may evolve into self-reliant, competitive groups; stigmatized subordinates may shed their psychological handicap; and foreign migrants can progress into successful immigrant groups. In many societies the types overlap or exist side by side. They were highlighted as "ideal types" for mere analytical purposes.

The review of five state policies toward subordinate ethnics has revealed that no magic formula or general conceptualization can be meaningfully applied to such different contexts. The one major lesson that could be drawn from the broad sketch is that resistance to a reductionist dogmatism combined with a heightened sensitivity for historical uniqueness without forgoing attempts at meaningful comparisons may serve best a critical social science interested in demystification of conventional wisdom.


Notes
1.
The Nazi deeds cannot be explained by the exigencies of war. While the Nazi crimes were committed during the war, they were not directly related to

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