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Chapter

Cover Issues in Political Theory

8. Multiculturalism  

Monica Mookherjee

This chapter studies multiculturalism. The term ‘multiculturalism’ can refer to the fact of cultural diversity and may also describe the coexistence of different kinds of cultural group within a country. Multiculturalism emphasizes status, as well as economic inequalities. Thin multiculturalism views all cultural differences as disagreements between groups that agree on liberal values. This view may underestimate the extent of conflict between cultures. Meanwhile, thick multiculturalism appreciates that some cultural differences occur between liberals and non-liberals. While the solution to cultural conflicts in thick multiculturalism is often a modus vivendi, the question is whether this solution treats non-liberal minority cultures fairly. Defenders of cultural rights hold that governments should recognize that all citizens deserve equal opportunities for developing self-respect and autonomy. However, by respecting cultural rights, a government risks supporting injustice against individuals within groups.

Chapter

Cover Rethinking Political Thinkers

23. Bhikhu Parekh  

Varun Uberoi

This chapter evaluates Bhikhu Parekh’s texts on multiculturalism, as they are his best-known works and have had a significant impact on political philosophers, scholars in other disciplines, and policy-makers. After introducing Parekh, the chapter examines his ideas about culture and cultural diversity. It then considers why he values intercultural dialogue and examines his approach to legitimizing cultural diversity in a polity. The chapter also discusses Parekh’s approach to fostering unity among the culturally diverse citizens of a polity and looks at how his practical political interventions relate to his ideas about what political philosophy is. Finally, the chapter considers the reception of Parekh’s work on multiculturalism and how best to interpret it.

Chapter

Cover Politics in the Developing World

18. Human Rights  

Michael Freeman

This chapter examines the concept of human rights, which derives primarily from the Charter of the United Nations adopted in 1945 immediately after World War II. It first provides a brief account of the history of the concept of human rights before describing the international human rights regime. It then considers two persistent problems that arise in applying the concept of human rights to the developing world: the relations between the claim that the concept is universally valid and the realities of cultural diversity around the world; and the relations between human rights and development. In particular, it explores cultural imperialism and cultural relativism, the human rights implications of the rise of political Islam and the so-called war on terror(ism), and globalization. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the new political economy of human rights.

Chapter

Cover Political Ideologies

11. Multiculturalism  

Paul Wetherly

This chapter examines the evolution of cultural diversity, a concept of multiculturalism, as an ideology. Aside from cultural diversity, multiculturalism has three other inter-related concepts or values: identity, community, and citizenship and equality. The chapter first considers the link between migration and cultural diversity before discussing the routes to cultural diversity within modern states, especially immigration into European societies in the period since the Second World War. It then explores the relationship between the national and global dimensions of cultural diversity as well as the attitudes of other ideological perspectives, such as liberalism, socialism, conservatism, nationalism, and feminism, to cultural diversity. It also asks whether multiculturalism is an ideology in its own right and how multiculturalist ideology has been expressed in political movements and shaped government policies. Finally, it assesses the nature of, and reasons for, the recent backlash against multiculturalism in European societies.