Before talking about multiculturalism in the modern world let us give the definition of the word ‘culture’. Longman Dictionary of English Language and Culture defines culture as ‘the customs, beliefs, art, music, and all other products of human thought made by a particular group of people at a particular time’. Culture comprises all activities people practice, what they eat, how they dress, etc.
The modern world can be called multicultural due to racial, cultural and ethnic diversity. Through the process of globalization and immigration modern society has become a mixture of different nations and cultures. Cross-cultural contacts have grown significantly nowadays. Thanks to globalization we can enjoy foreign goods, food, music, ideas, technologies and practices. Multiculturalism supports the ideals of a democratic society in which every person is free and equal in dignity and rights. It leads to understanding, friendship and respect among racial and ethnic
groups. All people are equal which enables them to participate fully in the social, cultural, economic and political life irrespective of their race, religion, colour of skin or origin. The positive attitude to multiculturalism plays a very important role in the fight against all forms of extremist action.
Some people have a negative attitude to multiculturalism as they believe that it erodes social stability and national cohesion. People’s prejudices and fears may result into ethnocentrism or they may lead to racial discrimination, social conflicts and violence. Ethnocentrism is the belief that one’s own race or ethnic group is more important than others and that its culture is superior to the culture of other groups. It occurs when one culture or nation places itself at the top of an imagined hierarchy of cultures and nations.
The United Kingdom has one of the highest immigration rates in the EU. Although white people make up over 90% of the UK population, there are also many other groups living in Great Britain. The largest ethnic group is Asian (4% of the population). This group includes people from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The other main ethnic groups are Afro-Caribbean, African, Arabic, and Chinese. In London, almost 30% of the population are Asian and black. The main reason why London has become a multicultural city is the long history of immigration to Britain
which increased greatly after World War II. Immigrants were encouraged to come to Britain as the country needed many workers to rebuild its economy after the war. Now the children and grandchildren of the earlier immigrants are full members of British society. Immigrants come to Great Britain for many reasons: some of them look for a well-paid job and better life; some seek protection from poverty, military conflicts or political persecution. Almost every part of London is populated with a wide mixture of people from many different countries.
Talking about the United States we often use the metaphor ‘melting pot’ to emphasize that all the immigrant cultures have mixed and assimilated into American society. White Americans make up the majority of the US population (about 75%). Blacks or African Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, American Indians, Alaska Natives and other races make up 25% of the population. From 1880 to 1930, there was a huge growth in immigration to the United States. Today, the largest groups of immigrants come from Mexico, the Philippines, and other parts of Latin America and Asia.
Today behind many social and political conflicts there is a problem of cultural differences. That’s why we need to create a harmonious integrated society where every member enjoys equal rights. Multiculturalism helps us build bridges between communities; it is the pledge of piece, understanding, harmony and wellbeing. Multiculturalism will help us create a united and tolerant culturally diverse society. As Bhikhu Parekh, a professor of political philosophy at the University of Westminster, said, ‘Multiculturalism is not about shutting oneself up in a communal or cultural ghetto and leading a segregated and self-contained life. Rather it is about opening up oneself to others, learning from their insights and criticisms, and growing as a result into a richer and tolerant culture’.
1. Read the following sentences and circle TRUE or FALSE: 1) Through the process of globalization and immigration modern society has become a mixture of different nations and cultures. T|F|
2) Cross-cultural contacts have fallen significantly nowadays. T|F|
3) Everybody has a positive attitude to multiculturalism. T|F|
4) White people make up over 60% of the UK population. T|F|
5) Immigrants were encouraged to come to Britain after World War II. T|F|
6) The USA does not accept any immigrants nowadays. T|F|
7) Today behind many social and political conflicts there is a problem of cultural differences. T|F|
2. Complete each sentence (A-H) with one of the endings (1-8): A. Culture comprises
B. Thanks to globalization we can enjoy
C. Multiculturalism supports
D. Ethnocentrism occurs when one culture or nation
E. The main reason why London has become a multicultural city is the long history of immigration to Britain which
F. Blacks or African Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, American Indians, Alaska Natives and other races
G. From 1880 to 1930, there was
H. Multiculturalism helps us
1. make up 25% of the population in the USA.
2. build bridges between communities.
3. increased greatly after World War II.
4. foreign goods, food, music, ideas, technologies and practices.
5. all activities people practice, what they eat, how they dress, etc.
6. the ideals of a democratic society in which every person is free and equal in dignity and rights.
7. places itself at the top of an imagined hierarchy of cultures and nations.
8. a huge growth in immigration to the United States.
3. Give the definitions of the following words – multiculturalism – ethnocentrism
– culture – racial discrimination
– globalization – persecution
– immigration – assimilation
4. Answer the questions 1) Why can the modern world be called multicultural?
2) Why is the positive attitude to multiculturalism so important nowadays?
3) Why do some people have a negative attitude to multiculturalism?
4) What may people’s prejudices and fears result into?
5) What can you say about the population of the UK?
6) Why can London be called a multicultural city?
7) Why do immigrants come to Great Britain?
8) What can you say about the population of the USA?
9) Do you agree that multiculturalism is the pledge of the piece, understanding, harmony and wellbeing of the whole world? Why?
10) What is your own attitude to multiculturalism?
5. Read and translate the following quotations and comment on one of them – ‘Our cultural diversity has most certainly shaped our national character.’ (Julie Bishop)
– ‘Accordingly, globalization is not only something that will concern and threaten us in the future, but something that is taking place in the present and to which we must first open our eyes.’ (Ulrich Beck)
– It has been said that arguing against globalization is like arguing against the laws of gravity.’ (Kofi Annan)
– ‘And each of us can practice rights ourselves, treating each other without discrimination, respecting each other’s dignity and rights.’ (Carol Bellamy)
– ‘Discrimination is a disease.’ (Roger Staubach)
– ‘Without culture, and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle. ‘ (Albert Camus)
– ‘I plead for conservation of human culture, which is much more fragile than nature herself. We needn’t destroy other cultures with the force of our own.’ (Arthur Erickson)
Read the article below. Explain the meaning of the words in italics. Summarize the contents of the article. Find more information about multiculturalism in different countries.
Misunderstanding multiculturalism… Multiculturalism simply does not mean what most of its critics think. The original home of multiculturalism is Canada. Canadian philosophers and policy-makers have done most to define and elaborate the concept, since Canada is quintessentially an immigrant society. There, multiculturalism does not mean, and has never meant, different cultural and ethnic groups being left alone to get on with whatever activities they choose. It actually means the opposite. Policy-making in Canada stresses active dialogue between cultural groups, active attempts at creating community cohesion, and the acceptance of overarching Canadian identity. As a leading Canadian writer, Will Kymlicka, puts it, multiculturalism in Canada ‘encourages the members of different immigrant groups to interact, to share their cultural heritage, and to participate in common educational, economic, political and legal institutions’.
Canada adopted its official ‘multicultural policy’ in 1971. That policy-orientation has long stressed that language tests, citizenship ceremonies and oaths are axiomatic for immigrants. Such demands are wholly uncontroversial, among the host population as well as migrants: indeed they are widely welcomed as a sign of mutual commitment. Some Canadian-style policies, such as citizenship ceremonies, have been introduced with success in the UK. …
Anthony Giddens guardian. co. uk, Saturday 14 October 2006
A. Every culture is unique and has a particular vision of human life. Do you agree that in a pluralistic society there should be mutual respect and mutual understanding between different cultures?
B. Read the text ‘Multiculturalism in the Modern World’ and be ready to speak about its leading ideas.