Multiculturalism Facts: Here's Why Ethnic Diversity Is Important | Kidadl


Multiculturalism Facts: Here's Why Ethnic Diversity Is Important

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The notion of multiculturalism influences almost every aspect and sector of modern society.

While multiculturalism has existed in different parts of the world for centuries, the term got a new meaning only in the 20th century. In simple words, multiculturalism refers to the coexistence of two or more cultures in a community.

This coexistence significantly impacts a country's cultural, political, and economic framework. Common characteristics of a multicultural society include acknowledging two or more languages, the presence of different religions, special protection for minority groups, and so on. In some ways, multiculturalism serves as a tool for addressing cultural variety and a means of compensating cultural minorities who have historically been excluded and persecuted. Continue reading to find out more about multiculturalism and its impact on modern society.

Meaning Of Multiculturalism

Multiculturalism is a broad term that has been defined differently in different disciplines like sociology and political science. The major causes of the development of multicultural society are attributed to migration, globalization, and media. Almost all Western nations have formulated multicultural policies to recognize and celebrate the varied cultures that make their national identity.

  • In sociology, multiculturalism describes how society responds to cultural diversity.
  • In political theory, multiculturalism refers to how societies create and implement policies to ensure that different cultures are treated fairly.
  • Multiculturalism is also referred to as ethnic pluralism or cultural pluralism.
  • An ancient example of multiculturalism is the Habsburg monarchy, in which numerous ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups coexisted.
  • The Habsburg monarchy was founded on the concept of 'live and let live.'
  • The concept of multiculturalism was introduced to the public in 1938 by John Murray Gibbon in his book 'Canadian Mosaic: The Making of a Northern Nation.'
  • Canada is considered the originator of multiculturalism because of its emphasis on the importance of immigration.
  • During Pierre Elliott Trudeau's premiership in the '70s and '80s, multiculturalism became the official policy of the Canadian government.
  • The origin of modern political awareness regarding multiculturalism is attributed to the Canadian Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism.
  • Multiculturalism became an official national policy in Canada in 1971 and Australia in 1973.
  • In Argentina, newspaper articles, radio, and television shows are broadcast in English, German, Italian, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.
  • The Netherlands and Denmark have recently reversed their national policies and returned to formal monoculturalism.
  • Multiculturalism is prevalent in many African, Asian, and American nation-states.
  • Bulgaria is a multicultural country with various nationalities, ethnic groups, and faiths. In its capital city, Sofia, places of worship of the major religions- Eastern Orthodox, Islam, Roman Catholicism, and Orthodox Judaism can be seen within walking distance of 0.8 mi (1.3 km).
  • Sweden was Europe's first country to have an official multicultural policy.
  • South Africa recognizes 11 languages, making it the third country after Bolivia and India to have the highest number of official languages.

Impact Of Multiculturalism

For decades, people have argued the influence of multiculturalism on society. While some thinkers believe that multiculturalism has benefited nations by promoting peace and acceptance of ethnic minorities, others believe it has undermined the host country's distinct cultural identity.

  • Two theories can be used to study the impact of multiculturalism on societies: melting point and salad bowl.
  • According to the melting pot theory, immigrant groups abandon their own cultures and become fully integrated into the dominant community.
  • The salad bowl theory defines a multicultural society in which people cohabit while retaining some of their original cultural characteristics. For example, in New York City, there are neighborhoods known as 'Little India' and 'Chinatown.'
  • The melting pot concept is criticized for reducing cultural diversity, leading individuals to lose their cultures, and requiring enforcement of government regulation.
  • Immigrants in different countries continue to face racial discrimination despite several laws being implemented for their protection.
  • The impact of multiculturalism can also be seen in the educational system. School and university curricula have been revised to accommodate the contributions of minorities and under-served groups.
  • National holidays and months have been declared to recognize different ethnic groups like African American History Month, Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, International Romani Day, National Hispanic Heritage Month, and so on.
  • Multicultural teaching tactics are used to assist teachers in breaking down the obstacles that develop when teaching students from other cultures, like group activities, cultural food swaps, storytelling, seminars, workshops, and native festival celebrations.
  • Multiculturalism has risen in the workplace as the world has gotten more connected and inclusive. It promotes cross-cultural thinking and aids in the expansion of global markets.
  • Multiculturalism in the workplace has its own set of challenges. Understanding different cultures take time, and employees must remember professional and social etiquette while dealing with colleagues from other cultures.
  • Multiculturalism has an impact on the political system of a country. Representatives of many cultural groups are given equal chances to voice their views and ideas.
Multiculturalism in the workplace has its own set of challenges

The Characteristics Of Multiculturalism

Multiculturalism aims at recognizing the abundant diversity of cultures and respecting the differences that make every cultural group unique. It recognizes the values and contributions of culturally diverse communities and encourages individuals to not only tolerate but also celebrate different cultures.

  • Multicultural societies are made of people belonging to different ethnic groups, races, and nations.
  • People in multicultural societies preserve, propagate, and share their distinct cultural ways of languages, life, art, customs, and behaviors.
  • Multiculturalism can exist on a national level or inside a country's communities.
  • Multiculturalism can emerge naturally as a result of immigration or intentionally due to jurisdictions and legislation.
  • Multiculturalist policies strive to improve immigrant integration and social cohesion.
  • The characteristics of multiculturalism are often diffused into the country's education system.
  • There is no official culture or religion in a multicultural country that everyone must adhere to. Instead, all cultures are held in equal regard.
  • By formally recognizing more than one language, multiculturalism promotes multilingualism.
  • While multiculturalism recognizes the right of every individual to practice their own culture, it does not advocate for division into isolated groups due to cultural differences.
  • It acknowledges that no one's human rights can be denied because of their cultural identity.

Significance Of Multiculturalism

Multiculturalism is an essential tool to establish a high level of cultural diversity, which occurs when people of different races, nationalities, faiths, and ethnicity unite to establish a community.

  • Cultural diversity strengthens humanity by promoting peace, tolerance, and inclusion.
  • Countries, organizations, and schools are made up of people from different racial, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds. 
  • Communities build understanding and respect across all cultures by recognizing and learning about these distinct groups.
  • The tragedies of World War II, which included racism and ethnic cleansing, sparked a human rights movement, prompting countries to adopt policies that promote cross-cultural understanding.
  • Multicultural policies help in the fight against racism and the protection of minority populations of all kinds in Western countries.
  • Multiculturalism helped in the dismantling of policies that denied minorities full access to possibilities for freedom and equality.
  • Cooperation with members of cultural groups other than one's own reduces prejudice and inter-group antagonism.
  • Multiculturalism is useful because it employs a variety of disciplines to spotlight and promote the efforts of under-served communities, such as women and minorities.
  • Multiculturalism contributes to the development of a more productive economy.
  • It promotes open-mindedness and dispels unfavorable prejudices among various groups of individuals.
  • Different cultures have their own set of interests and beliefs, which they might share in order to provide alternate ways of doing things. People from various cultures can provide us with unique perspectives on food, language, music, arts and literature, history, religion, and other topics.
  • A multicultural education introduces students to different cultural values through activities, lectures, and conversations, among other things.
  • It increases engagement, builds connections, and enhances communication skills among people of different groups.
Written By
Akshita Rana

<p>With a Master's in Management from the University of Manchester and a degree in Business Management from St. Xavier's, Jaipur, India, Akshita has worked as a content writer in the education sector. She previously collaborated with a school and an education company to improve their content, showcasing her skills in writing and education. Akshita is multilingual and enjoys photography, poetry, and art in her free time, which allows her to bring a creative touch to her work as a writer at Kidadl.</p>

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