Description: It is a simple fact that we live in a culturally diverse world. It is a further fact that with global access to information and with global human movement (either purposeful or refuge seeking driven) we are locally surrounded by such diversity. Think about cultural variability and then read each of the following words and pick the one that best captures your feels about or your stance on cultural diversity (about how we should think about it and act about it both personally and it terms of public policy); the words are assimilation, colour-blindness, multiculturalism and polyculturalism. Social psychologists study not just what we think about these words and their related concepts but also how we act in relation to cultures and cultural groups. Once you have thought about and picked a word from the list read thorough the article linked below and see how your choice maps onto current research.
Source: Cultures fuse and connect, so we should embrace Polyculturalism, Nick Haslam, The Conversation.
Date: posted June 7, 2017
Photo Credit: pixabay, CC BY-CA
It is clear that the words listed above involve quite different takes on cultural diversity. In Canada the term assimilation carries some serous baggage, linked as it is historically with the treatment of First Nations people, residential schools, child welfare scoops and truth and reconciliation commissions. Multiculturalism is somewhat problematic as a term because it assumes that cultures are static and there is concern that it reifies cultural divides. Polyculturalism is seen as having some advantages over multiculturalism. Primary among them is that polyculturalism reflects the “real” state of the historic world in which cultures blend over time. As you think about whether this term is useful and if it addresses concerns about assimilation (certainly) and multiculturalism (less clear) think about how the term can, is or should be applied: to individuals in the here and now, to individuals over time, to groups here and now, and to groups over time (and over what sort of time frame? Days? Months? Years? Generations?).
Questions for Discussion:
- What is problematic about the term assimilation when applied to culture?
- What is problematic about the terms multiculturalism and polyculturalism?
- What sorts of limits or caveats should we consider on our theorizing and research about culture as the terms we use or propose relate to people, groups and to individual and historic time and over individual and group or cultural development?
References (Read Further):
Wingfield, A.H. (2015) colour-blindness is counter productive. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/09/color-blindness-is-counterproductive/405037/
Rosenthal, L., Levy, S. R., & Moss, I. (2012). Polyculturalism and openness about criticizing one’s culture: Implications for sexual prejudice. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 15(2), 149-165. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.936.7827&rep=rep1&type=pdf
Bernardo, A. B., Rosenthal, L., & Levy, S. R. (2013). Polyculturalism and attitudes towards people from other countries. International journal of intercultural relations, 37(3), 335-344. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Allan_Bernardo/publication/256976201_Polyculturalism_and_attitudes_toward_people_from_other_countries/links/00b4952a4879cec610000000.pdf
Bernardo, A. B., Salanga, M. G. C., Tjipto, S., Hutapea, B., Yeung, S. S., & Khan, A. (2016). Contrasting lay theories of polyculturalism and multiculturalism: Associations with essentialist beliefs of race in six Asian cultural groups. Cross-Cultural Research, 50(3), 231-250. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1069397116641895