Reconciling multiculturalism and integration
One challenge of modern, diverse societies is to reconcile multiculturalism and integration; it is to preserve a wealth of minority cultures and languages, while at the same time ensuring minorities’ integration and overall social unity. This challenge inspires the Culture & Diversity Cluster’s activity.
This is why the foundation of the Cluster’s research is the principle of inter-culturalism. The suffix ‘inter’ signalises that efforts towards adaptability and interaction do not come only from minorities but also from the majority. It is based on an approach to societal hybridity that is not seen as leading to ghettoization but rather to ‘unity in diversity’. This form of coexistence signifies living together rather than living simply side by side.
The following themes are or will be in focus at the Culture & Diversity Cluster
- The dynamics of multilingual societies
- linguistic integration in linguistically divided societies
- the issue of language scripts as part of linguistic identity
- the concrete impact of the ‘European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages’ (ECRML) in protecting and promoting languages as a form of cultural wealth.
- Media as an intercultural tool
- the new and old media fulfilling a dual role, being simultaneously a means towards minorities’ cultural and linguistic expression, and towards intercultural understanding
- in particular, the Cluster will research the role of the public service broadcaster in enhancing social cohesion between society’s different groups, through cultural cross-fertilisation and the dissemination of information on minority as well as majority cultures.
- Minority participation and consultation
- participation in decision-making on policies that relate to minority cultures and languages, including multilingual education in the post-Soviet space.
Our identification of the challenge to modern, diverse societies, builds upon a number of observations:
Modern societies are becoming increasingly diverse and pluralistic, through the fast-pace of migration and the coming into contact of different cultures. At the same time, the forces of globalisation lead to culturally homogenising tendencies. With societies in a continuous state of flux minorities and majorities alike continue to re-interpret their identities and sense of belonging. It can result in multi-layered, cosmopolitan identities, but the dynamics can also be destabilising.
Diversity can be perceived as a threat. Problems are often seen to be posed by ‘new minorities’, when differing cultural and religious traditions are perceived as alien by the host society. Their status differs from that of national minorities which have history of coexistence with the majority. The ‘home grown’ national minorities also enjoy higher levels of integration in the country’s social and political life.
On the other hand, homogenising tendencies induced by globalisation can lead to a loss of minority cultures and language. Homogenisation can also be due to states’ assimilatory policies. This might mean a progressive reduction of cultural wealth, and this again would mean a loss for societies as a whole. It is not only a loss for the affected minorities.