The existence of diversity within a society presents a phenomenon where different culture and beliefs coexist within the same locality of the nation. A country with the various ethnic group is characterized by multiple cultures, which can be viewed from the integration or diversity perspective presenting the concept of multiculturalism. Therefore, there is need to understand the externalities than emanating from the coexistence of different cultures within the same country or region. This paper presents the concept of multiculturalism by outlining a brief history, the positive aspects, and the main tensions associated with multicultural societies, which forms the baseline of the conclusion.
As noted earlier, multicultural societies involve the coexistence of different cultures within the same location or region preferably a nation. The concept is viewed from the perspective of the language, values, and norms of the original inhabitants in comparison with the immigrants (Gress, 1999). The history of multiculturalism dates back in 1968 when Jerzy Zubrzycki presented his ideologies during a citizenship conference in Australia. Focusing on the welfare of immigrants, Jerzys movement, which was later referred to Multicultural Movement, championed the ideology cultural pluralism as an alternative to assimilation (Marotta, 2006; Anderson, 2013). The ideas were later embraced across different nations, for example in Canada in 1971, and became an essential component of policy formation. In Amerca, the aftermath of the 1960s narcissism paved the way for the new era of multicultural society. Other states such as Europe, Argentina, India, and United Arabs Emirates are some of the nations characterized by multicultural policies to define cultural coexistence.
The United Nations reports have indicated that over 191 million people are living in a different country to their native states, which is about 3% of the 6.3 billion global population. The approximated migration rate from developing states to developed countries, from one developed state to another, or from developed country to a developing one has been estimated to be equal. However, immigrants from some countries such as China and Mexico have the highest global migration share with America, Australia, and Canada being the top receivers. The statistical overview of the composition of foreigners in line with the total population in the United States, Australia, and Canada is 13%, 21.3%, and 19.5% respectively (Aunaas, 2012).
Traditionally, multicultural societies have depicted three approaches in line with the management of different cultural existence. Segregation involves keeping populations separately either geographically or by few relations such as the apartheid regime in South Africa. Assimilation model is where the minorities adopt the majority cultural practices, who in turn could certain cultural elements of the minorities (Aunaas, 2012). Finally, integration form includes the keeping of distinct cultures while adopting to a common or minimal tendency regarding norms and values.
Worth noting is that the existence of different cultures within a single society may originate in a variety of ways, which results in cultural, social, and economic benefits. Through cultural diversity in the society cross-cultural competencies have been improved (Shokef & Erez, 2006). Mental flexibility and tolerance among people with different perspectives and beliefs are moderated in multi-cultured nations. Such a phenomenon was witnessed in the United States and South Africa after 1960s and 1990s respectively. The integration and assimilation of different cultures encourage artistic blossoming and social innovations. Through culture diversity, political orientations that favor diverse viewpoints can be established through modern democracy.
Moreover, the economic growth rate associated with stable multicultural societies is sustainable and efficient. For example, in the United States, the inclusion of the immigrants based on the needs of the country has sparked sustainable economic development and stability through entrepreneurship, innovation, availability of labor, and expanding market. In Australia, multiculturalism has enhanced the education sector, which contributed to over $17 billion of revenue in 2014 and about $5.265 in Victoria alone (Fensham, 2016). A similar trend is witnessed in Canada across the education and tourism sectors of the economy. In the United Kingdom, the 11.6% of foreign-born citizens contribute to 6% annual GDP (Aunaas, 2012).
Although multicultural societies are associated with positive aspects, some critical tensions exist. The Multicultural Theory of Psychology ascertains that abnormalities in psychology emanate from culture or society framework and that all cultures have weaknesses that affect the integration tendencies. Discrimination is a common phenomenon in most multi-cultured states as witnessed in South Africa during the apartheid period. The onset of Social conflict and the development of the perspective of being alienated is common in multicultural populations (Gerelux & Race, 2017). The call for a shift from assimilation to culture pluralism in Australia and the United States in the 1970s and 1960s respectively originated from the feeling of the discrimination and alienation among the minorities (Aunaas, 2012). Moreover, the diversity of needs and priorities is critical for effective governance and policy formation. The existence of such tensions presents the need for favorable balance between choices and indecision regarding culture assimilation, integration, and segregation (Gerelux & Race, 2017).
In conclusion, multiculturalism has succeeded based on the advantages that major states have registered since the inception of the ideology. The positive implications associated with the concept has created more tolerant societies with high rates of productivity as opposed to segregation and assimilation. The existing challenges can be addressed and mitigated through strategic policy formation and governance. The comparison of the identified, as well as the possible positive implications and tensions, indicates that the former is intense. However, it is essential for the stakeholders within the local and global scope on multicultural integration and management to consider reevaluating the current shifts and externalities, which threaten the essence of the ideology.
Anderson, Z. (2013). Reading Multiculturalism: A Historiography of Policy and Ideal in Australia. History Compass, 11(11), 905-917. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/hic3.12098
Aunaas, L. (2012). Multicultural Societies in a Historic Perspective. Ndla International, available at: http://ndla.no/en/node/89615?fag=56850
Fensham, P. (2016). Economic benefits of cultural diversity. SGS Economic and Planning. Available at: https://www.sgsep.com.au/publications/economic-benefits-cultural-diversity
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Shokef, E. & Erez, M. (2006). Global Work Culture and Global Identity, as a Platform for a Shared Understanding in Multicultural Teams, in Ya-Ru Chen (ed.) National Culture and Groups (Research on Managing Groups and Teams, Volume 9) Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.325 352.
Marotta, V. (2006). Multicultural and Multiethnic Cities in Australia, in Ray Hutchison, Jerome Krase (ed.) Ethnic Landscapes in an Urban World (Research in Urban Sociology, Volume 8) Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.41 62.
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