Multiculturalism has been around for ages. One can argue that multiculturalism has existed since beginning of modern time. But what exactly is multiculturalism?
Multiculturism is an ideology that promotes the merging of different cultures. It is a term used to describe when several cultural or ethnic groups exist within one society. Another meaning of the term is that it incorporates ideas, beliefs and or people from many different countries and cultural backgrounds. We can see examples of multicultural societies all around the world. A good example is Los Angeles, which is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. There are people from approximately 140 countries and with more than 86 different languages. The main reason for this is that California has an immigrant-friendly law which makes it a popular destination for people dreaming of making a new life in the U.S.
As described earlier multiculturalism is a wide term. Multicultural society, on the other hand, is a more specific term. It is often used when it comes to different places and cities, which contains people with different nationalities, language, religions etc. Multicultural societies are important because they reduce the ignorance and increase the knowledge about the various cultures and may potentially reduce the fear of the unknown. Such societies are important since it also encourages dialogue between people with different backgrounds and cultures that have diverse perspectives. There are many advantages in multicultural societies, for instance, that people become more tolerant and respectful towards other traditions and cultures. With people who think differently, creativity towards problem solving will be increased.
“The more your network includes individuals from different cultural backgrounds, the more you will be creatively stimulated by different ideas and perspectives,” according to research by Harvard Business School professor Roy Y. J. Chua. “Importantly, these ideas do not necessarily come from the network members who are culturally different from you.”. Everyday things such as food variety and larger selection of clothing will be improved in a multicultural society. As an example, we can look at the Brexit situation in the UK. Statistics on who wants to leave the EU show that people who are exposed to different cultures from a young age are more likely to vote to stay in the union. People who are less exposed to multiculturalism are more likely to vote to leave. This shows that multiculturalism leaves a more open mindedness and a larger degree of acceptance for different views, values and behaviors of other cultures.
However, there are some challenges. The main challenges are language barriers, social tension and civil disagreement. In some countries in Europe such as Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands multiculturalism has created parallel and segregated societies where the cultural minorities retract to their ethnic “territory” and fail to interact with the cultural majority. If the society is not able to successfully integrate the various minorities, multiculturalism can lead to unwanted consequences. A more successful example is Canada. Here multiculturalism is so integrated into the society that it is a source of national identity and is used as a tool to unite French and English-speaking Canadians. Canada was also the first country to promote multiculturalism. In the United States, multiculturism is not established as a policy on federal level, but ethnic diversity is still common in both urban and rural areas.
There are both pros and cons to the ideology of multiculturalism. Nevertheless, there are more positive than negative sides to multiculturalism and the advantages surpass the disadvantages. Multiculturalism is going to increase and become more and more common in every society as the globalization of the world continues.