Describe the meaning of multiculturalism in your own words

Multiculturalism Concepts

1. Describe the meaning of multiculturalism in your own words.

Multiculturalism is the situation whereby multiple groups of divergent cultures exist in a given society rather than in only a mainstream culture (Jackson, 2010, p.36). This is a term that is used to describe cultural diversity. A single area containing one society may contain people drawn from different cultural backgrounds. Multiculturalism generally applies to the demographical composition of a particular area. This may be in regards to a specific area or even at the institutional level for example; schools, firms, businesses, cities and even at the national level.

However, on a normative perspective, the term refers to the ideologies and policies that champion this cultural diversity in a given area. In this sense, these are efforts to promote and champion the free express of the various people’s identity without fear or favour in any community. These ideologies are however variant and they differ from one institution to the other and from one nation to the other. This ideology advocates for equal recognition and equal respect to the various cultures that occur in a given society. Multiculturalism entails the diversities in ethnicity as well as religious affiliations of different people (Neil, 2002, p.43).

Two distinctive policies that have been developed as government strategies on multiculturalism have emerged. The first one pertains to the interaction and communication between different cultures. The interactions of cultures provide opportunities for the cultural differences to communicate and interact to create multiculturalism (Jackson, 2010, p.134). The second approach is basically entails the diversity and the cultural uniqueness. In this approach, the policy enhances on the avoidance of presenting a given ethnic, religious or cultural community as central.

2. Is the United States of America a multicultural country? Why or why not?

The United States of America is a typical example of a multicultural country since it contains people form divergent cultures from all over the world (Peskin and Edmund, 2011, p.345). The combination of all these cultures contributes to the overall American way of life. A culture is a way of living in a given community that is passed on from one generation to another. It entails things like, the dressing, people’s diets, places of living, way of worship as well as other customs and beliefs. Therefore, the existence of divergent cultures in the United States of America gives a diverse range of foods, religions, businesses and ideas in this one nation.

The United States of America has been multicultural since the first settlers came to America. Numerous people from other continents have immigrated into the country since the colonial period and in the post independent America. For hundreds of years, the United States has welcomed many people into the countries from all the continents including; Europe, Asia, Africa and South America (Peskin and Edmund, 2011, p.378). Many of the immigrants come to the United States looking for greener pastures since economically the country is well placed. People from all the four races in the globe emigrate out of their motherland and end up being in America.

Therefore, we can comprehensively conclude that there is no culture that dominates or is 100 percent pure. In the past hundred years, people of different races and from totally different communities intermingled and even intermarried producing new cultures which can be referred to as hybrids. The USA’s dream of giving hope to so many people in the world has seen the highest immigrations into the country (Neil, 2002, p.235). This people are from communities speaking different languages and having divergent beliefs and hence cultures.

3. Why is multiculturalism a controversial issue for some people?

Multiculturalism is the appreciation, acceptance and promotion of multiple cultures in a society. Multiculturalists believe that in a multi-ethnic society, culture difference should be preserved and celebrated because such a vision sees diversity as a positive force increasing the richness of communities and actually encouraging tolerance (Anne, 2011, p.218). However, some people are skeptical about this art of bringing together numerous cultures to develop a hybrid culture. These opponents see it as an unwanted vision that has been imposed to them by the liberal progressive elite.

The controversial detail that arises due to this is the fear of the unknown. The opponents of cultural integration cite a possible loss of national identity and unity as their main reason for opposing it. Critics also may also argue for assimilation of different ethnic and cultural groups to a single national identity (Peskin and Edmund, 2011, 890). These controversies have arisen in Europe and Australia. Academicians and other intellectuals have also challenged the act of bringing together various cultures and have emphasized on the need to maintain the individual cultures for the purpose of identity of a given community.

The earliest academic critics of multiculturalism in Australia were the philosophers Lachlan Chipman and Frank Knopfelmacher, sociologist Tanya Birrell and a political scientist Raymond Sestito (Neil, 2002, 112). Chipman and His counterpart were concerned of the threat multiculturalism posed to cohesion. Argument also exists that despite multiculturalism serving the needs of ethnic politics; it is a perilous concept on which to find policy.

4. How can the three sociological perspectives (social functionalism, social conflict, and symbolic interaction) be used to conceptually understand multiculturalism?

Multiculturalism situation can be comprehended by looking at it through various sociological perspectives. The three perspectives can be categorized into three; social functionalism, social conflict and symbolic interaction. The social functionalistic approach is based on the ideology that, the society is made up of distinct but vital parts, and all of these parts must be filled for the society to function in an upright manner (Anne, 2011, p.65). Social functionalism appreciates the role of multiculturalism in creating a stable and flourishing state. In this perspective, multiculturalism is considered as a tool of conflict management which fosters peace and harmony in a given society by making the minority and the majority communities comfortable with each other.

On the social conflicts perspective multiculturalism can be looked into as in the conflicts that arise between the various communities with different cultural backgrounds. Conflicts involving minorities are not due to so much cultural differences or their failure of integration. The main common means used to show that multiculturalism has failed is to attribute it to be the cause of social conflicts and from more extreme positions to blame the ethnic minorities (Neil, 2002, 564).

Symbolic interaction has a more focused attention to the specific interactions in the society (Jackson, 2010, 245). It is in this view that people define situations based on their own perceptions of multiculturalism. Therefore, the term multiculturalism becomes the basis for interaction between different people with a different view point. Different faces of people intermingle to put out a truly multicultural lifestyle. It emphasizes human creativity especially through the use of symbols and a language that create social order and a cultural meaning.


Anne M. (2011). Culture clash: An international legal perspective on ethnic discrimination. New York: Ashgate publishing.

Jackson R. (2010). Encyclopedia of identity. California: Sage.

Neil B. (2002). Selling illusions: the myth of multiculturalism. Toronto: Penguin.

Peskin L. and Edmund F. (2011). America and the world: Culture, commerce and conflict. Alabama: JHU press.