are in the MOST Phase I website (1994-2003).
The MOST Phase II website is available at: www.unesco.org/shs/most.
Policy Paper - No. 4
Table of contentsPreface
The United Nations and Ethnic Diversity
Multiculturalism and the Need for New Policy Responses to Diversity Contemporary Influences on Patterns of Ethnic Diversity The Changing Nature of Multi-ethnic Societies
Recurring Policy Issues in Multi-ethnic Societies
The Policy Models of Multi-ethnic States
Multiculturalism in Practice: Australia, Canada and Sweden The Broader Applicability of Multiculturalism as a Policy Response
Box 1 Major Instruments of the United Nations System on Non-Discrimination, Rights of Minorities and the Rights of Indigenous People
Box 2 Selected Policy Issues
Box 3 Australian Multicultural Policy Initiatives
Box 4 Public Opinion on Multiculturalism in Australia and Canada
Multiculturalism, as a systematic and comprehensive response to
cultural and ethnic diversity, with educational, linguistic, economic
and social components and specific institutional mechanisms, has
been adopted by a few countries, notably Australia, Canada and
Understandably, multiculturalism as a search for democratic public
policy responses to cultural and ethnic diversity in certain countries
is of prime interest to UNESCO, in so far as it embodies the ideal
of reconciling respect for diversity with concerns for societal
cohesion and the promotion of universally shared values and norms.
While UNESCO's Constitution stresses the "fruitful diversity
of cultures", its highest principle is "the intellectual
and moral solidarity of mankind". UNESCO's ideals in this
field are well illustrated by the following quotation from Montesquieu
(1949): "Je suis nécessairement homme [
je ne suis français que par hasard" (1).
The study of multiculturalism is a core subject for the MOST program.
Several international MOST projects are on topics relating to
the management of multi-ethnic and multicultural societies (2).
The following paper by Christine Inglis examines how specific
multicultural policies have operated and assesses their potential
for coping with diversity. It focuses on three countries - Australia,
Canada and Sweden - where multiculturalism has been in practice
for quite some time. Despite the complexity of the issues, the
differences between these three countries and the very specific
cases of the "first nations" or indigenous populations,
their policies are founded on the respect of individual human
rights and a civic and contractual definition of citizenship,
rather than on ethnic and cultural communitarianism. This is probably
a fundamental feature which distinguishes multiculturalism in
its modern guise, from the traditional cases of the more or less
conflictual co-existence of self-centred ethnic and religious
This probably is the fundamental feature which distinguishes democratic
multicultural policies (also minimizing the risk of inter-ethnic
conflicts) from the community-based management of diversity. This
type of policy is less compatible with democracy, and likely to
induce authoritarian and differentialist practices, as well as
conflicts between self-centred communities.
The remarkable analyses of Christine Inglis that we are pleased to publish in this MOST Policy Paper, are the outcome of a long maturation. First and foremost, they are the products of the scholarship and experience of the author. They were supported by an earlier, collective effort by several specialists, including C. Inglis herself, as well as Nadia Auriat from the MOST program staff, towards a MOST paper entitled "Multiculturalism: A Policy Response to Diversity", which was presented at the "1995 Global Cultural Diversity Conference", that took place in April 1995, in Sydney, Australia (3). We are grateful to Christine Inglis and to all other scholars who contributed to further the work of the MOST program in the area of the management of multicultural and multi-ethnic societies.
Executive Secretary, MOST Program
Director, Division of Social Sciences,
Research and Policy, UNESCO
(4). Historically, the patterns of ethnic relations and the extent to which they are associated with incidences of inter-ethnic conflict have been extremely varied. Many schema have been developed to explain the emergence of inter-ethnic conflict and the part played in it by specific contextual factors and institutional patterns ranging from imperial expansion and colonisation to contract labour and settler immigration (e.g. Banton 1967; Blalock 1967; van den Berghe 1967; Schermerhorn 1970; Richmond 1994). Despite their theoretical differences, the schema highlight how frequently inter-ethnic relations are associated with considerable differentials in the access to power and material resources of dominant and minority ethnic groups. Furthermore, patterns of ethnic relationship are rarely static, but evolve and change. As a consequence, peaceful coexistence may be fragile and problematic.
The inclusion of the study of multi-ethnic and multicultural (5) societies within UNESCO's MOST (Management of Social Transformation)
Program attests to the contemporary national and international
importance attached to ethnicity and pluralism. There are two
dimensions to this focus on ethnicity. The first, more positive,
concern is related to the rapid expansion of tourism, international
student exchanges and new patterns of global financial and commercial
relationships. Through these relationships increasing numbers
of people from diverse ethnic backgrounds now come into regular
contact. Considerable importance is attached by the participants
to ensuring that these educational, economic and cultural relationships
develop amicably and constructively, and that ethnic differences
in cultural patterns, customs and expectations do not become a
hindrance in the development of the relationships.
In contrast, the second focus is on more negative aspects of inter-ethnic
contact. Here, the widespread interest in ethnicity is, regrettably,
largely a reflection of the graphic images of ethnic conflict
and violence which daily are brought into our homes by television,
radio and newspapers. Although representing only a fraction of
the daily contacts between individuals from different ethnic backgrounds,
these images have come to typify for many academics, policy-makers
and members of the general public the reality, and the dangers,
associated with the existence of ethnic diversity.
The impact of these images is all the more striking because of
the influence throughout this century of social theorists as diverse
as Durkheim, Weber and Marx who argued that, as a concomitant
of the 19th century emergence of modern-industrial society, ethnic
groups had lost their saliency in the lives of individuals. Along
with kinship and other status-based forms of social differentiation,
ethnicity was to be replaced by class as the driving force in
social organisation. Ethnicity and racial differences were viewed
as anachronisms restricted to pre-modern or traditional societies.
This orthodoxy was shared by social commentators and policy-makers
who believed that assimilation of ethnic minority groups had either
occurred or was in progress. World cultural homogenisation typified
in the 'global village' presaged a quickening of this type of
development. Even in those industrial nations such as Australia,
Canada or the USA which continued to receive large numbers of
immigrants, assimilation was viewed as the inevitable process.
The 'rediscovery' of ethnicity over the last decade has been accompanied
by an increasing awareness among decision-makers of the need to
develop policies which will contribute to the development of harmonious
relations between diverse ethnic groups. This paper is concerned
with the potential of multiculturalism to constitute such a policy
response. Multiculturalism provides for some a way forward in
addressing the challenges posed by the growth of conflict and
violence associated with ethnic differences. For others it portrays
the dangerous divisiveness associated with ethnic and cultural
diversity. These contrasting perspectives on multiculturalism
reflect very different assessments of contemporary trends involving
ethnic diversity and the outcomes of strategies designed to address
Much of the debate about multiculturalism and the emergence of
conflictual and socially divisive ethnic groupings has addressed
ethical and philosophical concerns. In contrast, this paper focuses
on the level of policy initiatives and the outcomes associated
with attempts by policy makers to address the daily challenges
not only of policy-making but of policy implementation. Policy-makers
do not, however, work in a vacuum insulated from international
concerns about basic principles of justice, equality and democracy.
The United Nations and other international organisations have
established a number of Conventions and other instruments to guide
policy-makers in multi-ethnic societies.
A brief listing of certain instruments of the United Nations and
its Specialized Agencies concerned with non-discrimination and
the rights of minority groups, highlights some of the more pressing
issues the organisations have addressed in considering the situation
of members of indigenous people and persons belonging to ethnic
minorities (see Box 1). From their inception, both organisations
emphasised the importance of culture and cultural rights. The
Charter of the United Nations referred in Article 1 to the importance
of culture and the Constitution of UNESCO also refers to the 'fruitful
diversity of cultures'. In 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights provided for the first time for the respect of cultural
rights when Article 22 stated that everyone is entitled to realisation
of the cultural rights indispensable for dignity and the free
development of personality. Of special importance is Article 27
of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
which states that:
In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities should not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language.
The 1992 Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National
or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities extended these
rights to also include the rights of persons belonging to minorities
to participate effectively in cultural, religious, social, economic
and public life, as well as in the decision-making process concerning
the minority to which they belong; to establish and monitor their
own associations; to establish and maintain, without any discrimination,
free and peaceful contacts with other members of their group or
other citizens of other States to whom they are related by national
or ethnic, religious or linguistic ties (MOST, 1995 Annex I).
The importance of the rights of ethnic minorities has also been
recognised by other international organisations. The Conference
on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) in 1991, for example,
adopted a declaration on the Rights of National Minorities. The
Council of Europe has also been very concerned with these issues.
In 1992 it adopted the European Charter for Regional or Minority
Languages, and in 1994, the Framework Convention for the Protection
of National Minorities.
The designation of 1995 as the Year of Tolerance was evidence
of the ongoing complexity involved in seeking to obtain peaceful
coexistence among those from different ethnic groups. Yet its
importance is highlighted in the following quote from Kymlicka
(1995, pp.194-5) (6).
In many countries of the world -including the emerging democracies in Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia - the status of national minorities and indigenous peoples is perhaps the most pressing issue.
People in these countries are looking to the works of Western liberals for guidance regarding the principles of liberal constitutionalism in a multinational state. But a liberal tradition offers only confused and contradictory advice on this question...This is reflected in the wide range of policies liberal states have historically adopted regarding ethnic and national groups, ranging from coercive assimilation to coercive segregation, from conquest and colonisation to federalism and self-government.
...If liberalism is to have any chance of taking hold in these countries, it must explicitly address the needs and aspirations of ethnic and national minorities.
Three interrelated, but nevertheless distinctive, referents of
'multiculturalism' and its related adjective 'multicultural' which
can be distinguished in public debate and discussion are: the
demographic-descriptive, the ideological-normative and the programmatic-political.
The demographic-descriptive usage occurs where 'multicultural'
is used to refer to the existence of ethnically or racially diverse
segments in the population of a society or State. It represents
a perception that such differences have some social significance-primarily
because of perceived cultural differences though these are frequently
associated with forms of structural differentiation. The precise
ethnic groupings which exist in a State, the significance of ethnicity
for social participation in societal institutions and the processes
through which ethnic differentiation is constructed and maintained
may vary considerably between individual States, and over time.
In the programmatic-political usage 'multiculturalism'
refers to specific types of programs and policy initiatives designed
to respond to and manage ethnic diversity. It was in this usage
that 'multiculturalism' first gained currency after it was recommended
in the 1965 Report of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and
Biculturalism. This Report recommended that multiculturalism replace
the bicultural policy based on the British and French Charter
groups around whom policies for ethnic diversity in Canadian society
had been organised for over a century. Since then, its usage has
extended rapidly to encompass the demographic-descriptive' and
the 'ideological-normative' usage.
The ideological-normative usage of multiculturalism is
that which generates the greatest level of debate since it constitutes
a slogan and model for political action based on sociological
theorising and ethical-philosophical consideration about the place
of those with culturally distinct identities in contemporary society.
Multiculturalism emphasises that acknowledging the existence of
ethnic diversity and ensuring the rights of individuals to retain
their culture should go hand in hand with enjoying full access
to, participation in, and adherence to, constitutional principles
and commonly shared values prevailing in the society. By acknowledging
the rights of individuals and groups and ensuring their equitable
access to society, advocates of multiculturalism also maintain
that such a policy benefits both individuals and the larger society
by reducing pressures for social conflict based on disadvantage
and inequality. They also argue that multiculturalism is an enrichment
for the society as a whole. The close parallels between this ideological-normative
usage of multiculturalism and the United Nations' views on cultural
diversity are clear.
Such a positive assessment of cultural diversity is not, however,
universal. Critics argue that positive support of cultural diversity,
or multiculturalism, has the potential to foster highly divisive
social conflicts. In support of this position they cite the international
resurgence of ethnic conflict. One of the strongest statements
of the dangers inherent in cultural diversity is Huntington's
highly contentious thesis on the clash of civilisations in which
religion is argued to play a crucial role (8). The theoretical
support for this and similar expressions of fear about the continuing
threats to social cohesion posed by ethnic and cultural diversity
derives from one strand of theorising about modernity. Contrary
to the earlier theories on the declining importance of ethnicity,
it is argued that the contemporary processes of modernisation
and globalisation are actively contributing to the growing importance
of ethnicity and the increased significance of communitarian ties
(9). What is frequently under-theorised in this type of analysis
is the role of the State and the capacities of social policy to
intervene in this process so as to reduce the potential for conflict.
For some critics of multiculturalism, however, their critique
is directed at what they perceive to be the outcome of the implementation
of multicultural policies. Thus assertions that educational reforms
in the USA which allow for the inclusion of alternative perspectives
into the history or literature curriculum are leading to the disuniting
of American society, or the undermining of the foundations of
Western civilisation, are clearly a response to shifts in educational
programs and practice (e.g. Schlesinger 1992). It is also true
that advocates of such changes frequently justify their appeals
by reference to multiculturalism. In doing so they highlight its
potential to provide an alternative policy model to redress perceived
ethnic disadvantage and injustice (10). However, because there
are only limited examples of States where explicit multicultural
programs and policies have been implemented, the debates on the
actual effects of a policy of multiculturalism all too often proceed
with little reference to empirical evidence.
The objective of this paper is to redress the imbalance by examining
how specific multicultural programs and policies have operated
and to assess multiculturalism's potential to provide the much
sought after new policy response to ethnic diversity. Before this
can be done a number of questions must be answered.
What are the social changes which are driving the search for new
policy responses to diversity?
How have such changes affected contemporary forms of multi-ethnic
What are the existing policy models used by States in managing
The emergence of new States which have to confront issues of ethnicity
on a daily basis has been one of the most visible political developments
over the last half century. Decolonisation and the collapse of
communist regimes have been the major reasons for the formation
of new States. The extent of these changes is indicated by the
growth in the membership of the United Nations from the original
50 countries in 1945 to the present 185 member States.
The Second World War marks a watershed in the history of European colonisation. By 1984, 85 former colonies had become independent States (United Nations 1984). The process still continues albeit at a slightly slower pace with, for example, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Namibia gaining independence in 1990. An enduring geo-political legacy of colonisation are the boundaries of the contemporary states which are based on those of the former colonial powers and encompass often diverse, regionally-based ethnic groups. In addition these States often include the descendants of migrant labourers brought in to work on the European plantations, mines and other economic ventures. In Asia and the Pacific, Chinese and Indians played an important part in this labour migration which in Africa also involved significant numbers of labourers from elsewhere in Africa. In many cases these labourers became the middleman trading minorities who played an important role in commerce and the economy.
After decolonisation nation-building was a critical task for the
new political leadership and involved not only establishing their
economic viability but constructing a stable and viable State
through incorporation of these diverse ethnic groups. None of
these States shared the illusion underlying the formation of the
European nation-states that they were reuniting an ethnically
homogeneous population. The alliances forged in the anti- colonial
struggle provided a starting point for the establishment of the
new regimes. Regionally-based separatist movements and concerns
about the economic power of the middleman groups, who rarely were
accorded political power in the immediate post-independence period,
nevertheless were major issues confronting new States. Those Asian
countries with extensive overseas Chinese populations were also
concerned about the intentions of the new communist regime in
China and the potential of the local Chinese population to be
a focus for communist China's expansionist political aspirations.
Given the many difficulties confronting countries in the post-independence
period it is somewhat surprising that the colonial administrator
Furnivall's predictions concerning the fragility of post-colonial
States did not result in greater ethnic turmoil and instability
in governments (11). Successful breakaway movements such as those
which led to the creation of Bangladesh have been relatively rare.
Yet, the continuation of such movements in many countries attests
to the strength of divisive pressures, especially where exacerbated
by differential regional development. Armed resistance by separatist
ethnic groups is the norm, rather than the exception, in many
parts of Africa and Asia. Yet, in Asia, the position of the Chinese
and other non-indigenous minorities has become less significant
as a source of conflict as a result of the economic and social
changes associated with economic development and political changes
The collapse of communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the break-up
of the former USSR has, as with decolonisation, led to the emergence
of new States many of which contain within their boundaries significant
ethnic minorities. Some minorities have been resident in specific
regions for centuries. Others, including Russians, settled or
were deported to now independent States during Soviet rule. In
these new States an extension of Furnivall's theory to include
the destabilising effects of the removal of the old regime is
particularly relevant given the violent ethnically linked conflicts
between contending political leaderships. The situation in ex-Yugoslavia
is the clearest example of the intractability of such conflicts
when ethnic loyalties have been mobilised in support of competing
territorial claims and where the former institutional supports
promoting integration and coexistence have collapsed. But such
conflict is not inevitable, as the negotiated division of Czechoslovakia
into the separate Czech and Slovak Republics shows.
The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet-led power
bloc has been associated with a further element of political uncertainty
potentially affecting the incidence of ethnic conflict. The two
super powers no longer have the same interest, or ability in the
case of Russia, to control or direct the expression of internal
conflicts within former client States or States within their sphere
of political influence. In this vacuum the external influences
towards moderation which might once have been exercised are no
longer operative. This creates opportunities for ambitious political
groups and leaders to pursue their quest for power by often violent
means as is especially evident in Somalia and other parts of Africa.
A more optimistic example of the ability of States to survive a major change in their political regimes without major ethnic violence is provided by the Republic of South Africa. At the time of the 1994 elections which led to the replacement of the White government by the multi-racial government of national unity led by Nelson Mandela widespread predictions were made about the likelihood of violence between the various ethnic groups. While South Africa still experiences extremely high levels of violence and killing, even in the region of Kwazulu-Natal inter-ethnic rivalries can only partially account for the ongoing violence involving supporters of the African National Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party since Zulus support both Inkatha and the ANC. Elsewhere, the violence and killings are indiscriminate and motivated by criminal intent rather than a result of attempts by Africans to target individuals who belong to other African ethnic groups or to other races such as the Coloureds, Indians or Europeans. The ability of the new regime to survive such highly destabilising events indicates the potential of appropriate policies to reduce the damaging effects of ethnically-linked political rivalry. It also confirms how 'South Africans defied the logic of their past, and broke all the rules of political theory, to forge a powerful spirit of unity from a shattered nation' (Magubane, 1995 p.3).
Less obvious than the political changes associated with the emergence
of new States and political regimes are changes in the specific
objectives and ideologies guiding government policy-making. The
demise of communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the consequent
moves to establish free market economies have reduced the potential
for new successor governments to adopt policies to redress structural
disadvantage and inequalities among ethnic groups. At the same
time, the legitimation crisis confronting the Welfare State in
many Western industrial societies is also calling into question
the ability, and willingness, of their governments to commit expenditure
to address inequality especially when such expenditure may be
viewed as benefiting minority interests. The contemporary significance
of reductions in governmental capacity to address issues of ethnic
inequality and disadvantage has not been extensively explored,
but such loss of capacity has the potential to be an important
constraint on the development of policies which may ameliorate
ethnic tensions where these are linked to structural inequalities
Globalisation, the word which has rapidly gained currency as describing
the processes characterising the growing inter-connection and
interdependence in the world has three readily identifiable dimensions
(Waters, 1994). The primary economic dimension involves those
changes associated with the expansion and restructuring of international
economic relations. These dramatic changes in economic flows of
goods, services, labour and capital have been associated with
the post-World War Two emergence of major new economic bases outside
the Western industrial economies of Europe and North America.
The role of the oil-producing countries of the Middle East in
the 1970s oil crisis and the emergence of Japan and the newly
industrialising economies of Asia including Hong Kong, Korea,
Singapore and Taiwan as major independent economic actors has
involved significant economic, social and political changes in
these societies. The effects have also been felt in the older
Western industrial societies whose economies have undergone major
restructuring with consequent social change and dislocation resulting
from the decline of the traditional manufacturing industries on
which their economies were based.
Another important dimension of globalisation involves the development
of a homogeneous world-wide culture such as was first foreshadowed
by McLuhan when he wrote of the 'global village' (1964). With
the extensive and rapid innovations in telecommunications and
the increasing ease, speed and afford-ability of international
travel, cultural products and forms now can be disseminated globally
with great effectiveness.
The third, political dimension, is a product of the economic and
cultural dimensions. It involves a perception that the autonomy
and policy making capability of the State is being undermined
by the moves to economic and cultural internationalisation (12).
For the individual, the technological revolution in communications
means that social networks readily cross national boundaries with
the aid of cheap speedy travel, the telephone, fax and Internet.
Another trend which further constrains the power of individual
States is the development of supra-national political groupings,
often growing out of a desire for closer economic ties, as with
the European Union. The existence of these supra-national entities
also is seen as providing opportunities for regional political
entities to bypass the nation State and so assume greater significance.
Inevitably, there is dispute about the precise extent to which
these trends, such as the loss of power of the State, have occurred.
The significance of such a disappearance has been put dramatically
by one commentator (Waters, 1994 p.234) who noted that a consequence
would be the disappearance of our present institutions of citizenship,
welfare rights and liberal democracy. While such a development
may not be imminent, nevertheless the comments highlight the ways
in which globalisation is rendering problematic many key political
institutions which have hitherto played an important role in the
management of multi-ethnic societies.
Agreement about the scope of changes associated with globalisation does not ensure agreement, however, on the desirability of the outcomes or how they may be theorised (Waters, 1994). While an emphasis on the integrating and cultural homogenising effect of globalisation suggests a positive contribution towards overcoming conflict between ethnic groups, there are many indications that this is outweighed by more negative developments involving the breakdown of the older nexus between nation, state, societal community and territory (Waters 1994, p.232).
Often the processes of globalisation involve tensions. What may
appear as a relatively isolated minority group in a multi-ethnic
society must also be understood as part of an international network
(McLellan and Richmond 1994 pp.665-6). As a consequence there
may be tensions between membership in a nation-state and participation
in an international diasporic community.
As McLellan and Richmond (1994, p.666) also note, frequently there
are contradictions within the processes of globalisation. The
logic of free movement in labour, goods, services and capital
may be countered by protectionism and by the gatekeepers responsible
under State policies for protecting borders from illegal immigrants
and asylum seekers. Similarly, while the processes of regionalisation
may be conducive to separatist movements in Scotland or Catalonia,
whether such regions will establish their own political independence
may involve considerations somewhat different from those which
have resulted in the break-up of the USSR or the former Yugoslavia.
While bearing in mind the contradictions inherent in globalisation,
one of its most frequently cited concomitants is the rise of ethno-nationalist
movements. Such movements which involve a development out of ethnic
communities, or ethnies (Smith 1994, p.382), speak to the material
or other advantages which their supporters seek to achieve through
gaining independence. Often such movements are viewed as compensating
for the alienation of modern society thereby linking them not
to 'class' politics but to the politics of 'identity' in which
cultural factors predominate.
Implicit in much of the writing about the replacement of "class"
by "identity" or "cultural" politics is the
belief that these new movements have a strong irrational component.
While this contributes to their potency, it also makes them less
susceptible to political compromise or acceptance of the rights
of other cultural groups. Such a view predisposes critics to group
together as highly dangerous to the stability of the State many
very different forms of ethnic mobilisation extending from fundamentalist
religious groups and militant nationalists to those working to
achieve much more limited objectives involving access to education,
health or other institutions for their co- ethnics. Just as the
earlier acceptance of simple theories of modern society led to
an overly unquestioning acceptance of the decline of ethnicity,
their replacement may equally inappropriately see ethnic minorities,
and what has been referred to as the politics of recognition associated
with 'multiculturalism' (Taylor, 1994), as inevitably producing
ethnic conflict and the disruption of the society and State.
Whereas much of the consideration of globalisation's effects has
addressed its impact on ethnic minorities, a somewhat different
perspective considers its impact on the development of racism.
Wieviorka and his colleagues thus write of the ways in which the
decline of what he refers to as the national industrial state
in selected European countries has been associated with new forms
of racism among the dominant population (e.g. 1992; 1993; 1994).
The targets of this new racism are the immigrants who now constitute
a significant segment of the population in many European countries.
One of the most significant factors directly affecting the contemporary
ethnic composition of many societies is the exponential increase
in international population movements which commenced in the 1980s.
These movements are one of the major features of globalisation.
The political and economic changes which underlie these movements
differ from the previous major wave of international migration
in the 19th and 20th centuries which saw an exodus of voluntary
emigrants from Europe to the New World. There was also the less
well known labour migration from Asia, especially China, to the
Americas and Australasia as well as to South East Asia. The numbers
involved in the contemporary migrations are now far larger. One
estimate which excluded the former USSR and ex-Yugoslavia was
that some 80 million people now live in foreign lands (Stalker
1994, p.3). They also involve flows from, and to, a much wider
range of countries. In Europe, former sending countries are now
major receiving countries; the Middle East receives large numbers
of workers from Asia and North Africa while within Asia the expanding
economies in many countries have been associated with extensive
labour immigration (13). Refugees now comprise a significant number
of those moving in Africa, Asia and Europe.
The characteristics of the migrants are now more varied with women
becoming increasingly involved in labour migration and refugee
movements. There is also a growing movement of highly skilled
technical, professional and managerial workers. At the same time,
the actual forms of movement are also becoming more diversified.
Permanent immigration and short-term labour migration now exist
alongside refugee movements while there are also increasing movements
by asylum seekers or those without legal status or documentation.
International students too are a significant component in movements
as are business people and tourists.
A final significant change in recent international population
movements is the involvement of the State. Governmental regulations
now govern criteria for entry and residence and their operation
is an important political issue. The regime of control which surrounds
international population movements has also come to involve increasing
international co-operation as individual States realise that individual
policies of selection and control are only of limited effect in
the face of the pressures for more extensive immigration. Well
known examples include the Schengen agreement involving European
Union member states and the Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed
in 1988-89. The latter plan developed to address extensive Vietnamese
emigration involved countries of first asylum, other countries
in Southeast Asia, and resettlement countries as well, most significantly,
as the source country of the boat people, Vietnam.
1. Refugee movements: Refugee movements are one type of
international population movement which has continued to expand.
Despite difficulties of defining refugees and others involved
in forced migrations it is clear that there has been a massive
increase in the numbers of those colloquially described as 'refugees'.
Whereas in the early 1970s the estimated number of refugees was
2.5 million, by 1994 the total population described as being 'of
concern' to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) had increased to some 27.4 million. A year earlier the
figure had been 23 million (UNHCR 1995, p.9). An even higher estimate
of 40 million may be necessary to include all those involved in
forced migration, whether as refugees, or in refugee-like situations
or as displaced persons (Rogers 1992, p.1112).
Included in the UNHCR figure of 27.4 million were some 14.4 million
individuals who fitted the restricted UN Convention definition
of refugee (14), together with 5.4 million persons who were internally
displaced in their own countries and 7.5 million other persons
including war victims, asylum seekers and returnees. The majority
(43 per cent) was located in Africa, with most of the remainder
being located in Asia (29 per cent) and Europe (24 per cent) (UNHCR
The rapid increase in individuals involved in forced migrations
is dramatic testimony to the impact of political instability on
international population movements. Not all the instability has
an ethnic dimension as a central feature, but, once individuals
become involved in international population movements, their own
presence can contribute to changes in the ethnic composition of
countries where they seek refuge or are resettled. However, the
impact of refugees is more limited than their numbers would suggest
because of the international management system which has been
developed for handling refugees and those in refugee-like situations
(15). The ultimate aim of this system is return and only a small
proportion of those classified as refugees according to the UN
Convention are actually resettled in third countries usually in
North America, Australasia and Europe.
2. Asylum seekers: Far more numerous than these 'official'
refugees are those seeking to gain residence in these regions
through claims for asylum. Their numbers have increasingly presented
major political challenges for governments, especially those in
the Western democracies. On the one hand governments wish to maintain
the impression that they are in control of population movements
yet they also experience pressures to show compassion towards
the victims of political instability and persecution. Where they
accept refugees for resettlement under schemes organised by the
UNHCR, or where they maintain an immigration program which provides
some flexibility for accepting individual immigrants, they then
have some way of satisfying both these pressures. However, in
many cases, the absence of such schemes, in association with high
levels of demand for asylum from individuals arriving at their
borders, have placed considerable pressure on governments.
The issue of asylum seekers is especially significant in Europe
where the numbers have increased dramatically to be 680,000 in
1992 two-thirds of whom sought asylum on arrival in Germany. Since
the asylum seekers are often from ethnic groups new in a country,
issues relating to their appropriate treatment may also become
linked to hostility directed to them as 'strangers'. Fuelling
this hostility as the numbers of asylum seekers increased has
been the perception that many are motivated more by hopes for
economic gain than by direct political persecution (16). Against
this background of fear and suspicion, the appeal of a Fortress
Europe to keep out the new hordes has been strong. While the large
influxes from Eastern Europe and the former USSR have not arrived
on the borders of Western Europe (Coleman, 1994, p.6; OECD 1995,
p.58) governments have nevertheless increasingly supplemented
strict entry requirements for asylum seekers and other immigrants
from outside the European Union by bilateral and multilateral
initiatives (17). 'Fortress Europe' however represents more an
aspiration than an easily achievable goal. Outside Europe, especially
in Africa and Asia the dimensions of the refugee problem are even
greater while the resources to respond to it are far smaller (18).
3. Permanent immigration: While the growth in refugee numbers
and those seeking asylum have increased dramatically, they constitute
only one part of the international population flows. In sharp
contrast to these flows are those where States actively encourage
and facilitate the entry and settlement of immigrants, including
relatively easy access to citizenship. Examples of such States
are Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States where
the national ethos and identity is very much based on European
settlement and subsequent development. Another major immigrant
nation is Israel whose identity derives from being the homeland
of the Jewish people (19). Each of these States has experienced
major changes in immigration over the last decade. For Israel,
the collapse of the former USSR and Eastern European communist
regimes has been associated with major inflows of immigrants.
In the other four States, a common feature has been the increasing
diversification in the countries of origins of the immigrants
with Asian and Pacific countries becoming increasingly important
through-out the 1980s. The US has also experienced significant
inflows from Mexico (20).
The actual numbers of immigrants to each of the countries has
varied as a result of governmental administrative decisions and
legislation. In all the countries the size of the immigration
program, especially in a time of recession, has become a political
issue. While Australia reduced its intake of immigrants after
the 1989 peak because of its economic recession, Canada pursued
an expansionary policy to achieve its aim of one-quarter of a
million immigrants by 1992. The United States has most recently
experienced immigration numbers in excess of one million with
a peak of 1.82 million in 1992 largely as a result of the way
in which the annual immigration figures included the large numbers
of already resident persons who were able to legalise their residence
status under the 1986 Immigration and Reform Control Act.
4. Contract labour: Immigration is not, however, confined
to countries of permanent settlement. With the rapid expansion
of the global economy many economies are experiencing labour market
shortages which are filled by use of short term, contract labour.
Most OECD countries now have positive net migration (OECD 1995,
p.11) but the need for migrant labour is not confined to them.
The preference for short term contract labour evident in the post-war
economic reconstruction of Europe is also evident in Middle-Eastern
and many Asian countries. This preference is associated with the
greater economic flexibility which is perceived to be associated
with such labour, especially where the labour migrants are from
a different ethnic or religious background. Not only does the
'foreignness' of such labour facilitate their separation from
the local population but the absence of family or other ties is
perceived to make them easier to remove from the society when
they are no longer needed. The experience of Germany and other
European countries with their guest worker immigration is, however,
that the believed flexibility in the labour force is often illusory.
5. Future developments: The variety and extent of international population movements shows little evidence of ending of its own volition given the range of economic and political pressures encouraging movement. International networks of immigrants are also creating an additional momentum and opportunity for movement. Yet, there is continuing evidence that a stabilisation of population movements evident in OECD countries in 1992 had continued into 1993 and 1994 (OECD, 1995, p.13). The major reason for this is attributed to the effects of recent measures to control immigration by host countries rather than a fall in the potential for migration (OECD, 1995 p.11). As the OECD report notes, the effectiveness of such institutional controls may be only partial in the absence of the development of employment opportunities in the countries of emigration (OECD, 1995 p.11) or, it might be added, in the absence of political stability.
The increasing international importance of immigration as a domestic
political issue and the associated efforts of governments to control
the population flows may often be seen as a response to both the
size of the flows and, also, to the increasing diversity of source
countries which has continued in the case of Asian movements for
over a decade. In Australia, Canada and the USA the major increase
in the percentage of immigrants from Asia and the Pacific has
also been associated with a decline in European immigration only
partially offset by those arriving from Eastern Europe and the
former Soviet Union since 1990. Japan too has become a major destination
of migrants from elsewhere in Asia and there has been increasing
intra-Asian movement affecting other industrialising economies
in Asia including Singapore, Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia as well
as Hong Kong. In European countries earlier patterns of migration
continued with Switzerland receiving migrants from Southern Europe,
France from North Africa and the United Kingdom from South Asia.
But there were also newer patterns associated with East-West flows
which especially affected Germany, Austria and Sweden. While in
Germany, Poles and Romanians dominated, in the other two countries
those from the former Yugoslavia were more numerous among the
new migrants (OECD 1995, p.16).
A final significant change in the patterns of immigration is that
migrants from the one source area now may enter a country on the
basis of increasingly diverse criteria. Of especial interest is
the growth in temporary workers and highly-skilled migrants and
the decrease in the numbers of asylum seekers which are an outgrowth
of host country policies for selection and control (OECD, 1995).
Such changes have the potential to increase the diversity within
migrant, ethnic minorities. In particular, they can minimise the
extent to which migrant minorities are necessarily viewed as an
undifferentiated mass of disadvantaged or exploitable workers.
In many countries there is a growing pool of the non-citizen population,
business people, students and skilled workers who may share with
members of the local technical and professional middle classes
common educational and occupational experiences.
The patterns of ethnic relations are most fluid, and often violent,
in those new States which have recently gained their independence
as a result of the break-up of former States and federations in
Europe or where former colonies are still trying to establish
a stable government structure. Where former colonies have been
able to establish a viable political structure new relationships
have been forged among the native-born ethnic groups who have
been able to negotiate access to legal citizenship.
In those cases where the countries have experienced economic growth and development such as has occurred in the Asian region, the additional labour market needs have been satisfied through a process involving contract labour or illegal migration rather than settler immigration. In these instances, immigrant ethnic group membership has become associated with dis-advantage since the new immigrant ethnic groups lack citizenship and other rights to full social participation usually associated with permanent residence and enjoyed by long-established ethnic minorities. In the Middle East, Japan and Korea where contract labour has also been used, the difference in legal status is further compounded by marked social divisions between the migrant labour force and the dominant ethnic group with a strong sense of its homogeneity.
Nowhere is the range of variation in the co-existing patterns
of ethnic relations more marked than in western European countries.
The growth of diverse patterns has occurred since the Second World
War and reflects the way these countries, with the exception of
Ireland, have become de facto countries of immigration. When these
newer immigrant ethnic groups are considered in addition to the
long established regional ethnic minorities existing in many European
countries, the complexity of the European patterns of ethnic diversity
is evident both in terms of the specific ethnic groups involved
and their legal status.
The first pattern of European immigrant relations involves contract
or 'guest worker' labour which until the 1970's was used extensively
by Germany, Switzerland and other European countries. Renewed
needs for labour have seen a reintroduction of the practice. In
1993, for example, Germany introduced 181,000 such workers from
Central and Eastern Europe, and there were 72,000 in Switzerland,
16,000 in Austria and 11,000 in France (OECD 1995, p.21). With
the ending of the first wave of extensive contract labour in the
1970's European countries rapidly discovered that the departure
of the workers and their families was not inevitable. Indeed,
in Germany an important component of the population are the 1.9
million Turkish nationals (OECD 1995, p.202), guest workers and
their children who, although recent changes to make German citizenship
more accessible, still do not have German citizenship, despite
many having been born there. Similar groups of non-citizens exist
in many other European countries.
Another, important European source of international migrant labour
are nationals from European Union member States who, since January
1992, have been able to move and work freely within the EU without
the restrictions affecting non-EU contract labour. A third category
of immigrants are those who came to European countries, especially
immediately after the Second World War, and who had citizenship
by virtue of being from the former colonies of countries such
as the United Kingdom and France. On a similar basis Germany also
accepted large numbers of Germans from the German Democratic Republic
and Eastern Europe who also immediately acquired German citizenship.
European countries also have populations of students, businessmen
and refugees with a range of rights to residence. Further compounding
the patterns of ethnic diversity in Europe are the numerous asylum
seekers, illegal entrants and others who remain in individual
countries under various legal restrictions.
Even in Australia, Canada and the USA, which have a long history
of settler immigration, the new forms of immigration and the new
source regions have introduced significant new dimensions in the
relationships between existing ethnic minorities. The overlay
of different institutional patterns of ethnic relations includes
not only those of immigrant background but indigenous groups and,
especially in the USA, an ethnic group, the African-Americans,
whose relationship with other groups is influenced by their historical
experience of slavery. Where these countries differ from many
others is, however, an acceptance of immigration and permanent
settlement for newer ethnic groups. This has a legal expression
in relatively easy access to citizenship as in Australia where
the basic requirement is two years of permanent residence.
(21). Before examining these, there are certain policy issues which relate directly to the existing general patterns of institutional relations between the constituent ethnic groups.
The most urgent issue in States experiencing ongoing ethnically
related political instability, or striving to re-establish a modus
vivendi between ethnic groups in the wake of conflict involving
physical violence, is the establishment of communication and contacts
across ethnic boundaries which will allow for negotiations between
groups and, for individuals, the regaining of a sense of personal
security. Where genocide has been widespread as in the former
Yugoslavia and Rwanda the task is especially difficult. When this
is achieved the need then exists to address the causes which underlay
the ethno-nationalist mobilisation.
The prime policy issue for States where a proportion of their
ethnic minorities include contract or guest worker labour, asylum
seekers or those without legal entrance status concerns the relationship
of these groups to others who are citizens or enjoy permanent
resident status. What is their access to social and welfare services,
housing, health, education and employment? What rights do they
have to participate in decision-making or to gain access to the
legal system for redress of wrongs? What is the situation of their
family members and dependants with regard to entry and residence
status? Where States have long-term residents denied access to
citizenship many of the same issues may apply to them and their
family members, often including locally born children. The regularisation
of resident status or opportunities to be naturalised become important
issues. This is especially so where such changes remove ethnic
minority members from a situation where they become caught in
a web of exploitative labour and criminal activities contributing
to the development of a disaffected and marginalised underclass.
States which have taken decisions in favour of regularisation
and the further step of granting citizenship (22) to resident
ethnic minorities face issues similar to States which have long-established
ethnic minorities who have legal citizenship. These concern the
integration of the minority group members and their relationship
to the dominant ethnic group and other minorities. Policy issues
which arise include opportunities to express, and to maintain
distinctive elements of the ethnic culture, especially language
and religion where these are associated with ethnic distinctiveness;
the absence of ethnically linked social and economic disadvantage;
opportunities to participate in political decision-making and
the avoidance of racism and discrimination. An important symbolic
issue is the involvement of minority groups in the formulation
and expression of the national identity. Where a minority group
has a distinctive territorial base the issue of the extent of
its political independence may become an important issue.
A list of some common concerns from the perspective of the ethnic
minorities are contained in Box 2. The importance of these issues
may vary between groups and also over time. While it is apparent
that often the ethnic minority and the State may be concerned
about the same issue, the nature of their concern may differ.
In the area of housing, for example, the State may be concerned
to avoid the development of segregated housing areas while for
members of the ethnic minority their concern may be focused on
the availability of adequate quality housing without discrimination.
How the State responds to the policy issues of concern to ethnic
minority groups depends very much on the type of model adopted
to manage ethnic diversity.
(23). Later in this paper, another level of policy will be identified - the programmatic-political-which involves actual policy initiatives and programs which have direct, and indirect, implications for ethnic relations. While there is the expectation of a close link between the ideological-normative and the programmatic-political levels of policy, the process of decision-making and implementation can result in a lack of congruence between the two levels.
At one extreme are policies based on an assimilationist model
which envisages that ethnic minorities will be incorporated fully
into the society and State through a process of individual change
in which individuals abandon their distinctive linguistic, cultural
and social characteristics and takes on those of the dominant
group. In this model there is no place envisaged for the retention
of distinctive cultural, linguistic or social practices. By being
completely absorbed into the mainstream society it is argued that
the bases for ethnically based conflict cease to exist. The role
of the State in this model is limited since change is viewed as
the individual's responsibility. No change is required by State
legal, educational, welfare or health institutions although practices
and institutions associated with separatism may be proscribed.
At the other extreme are policies based on a differentialist model
whereby conflict is avoided through a process which eliminates
or minimises contacts with ethnic minorities. An extreme version
of this model involves the expulsion or 'ethnic cleansing' of
ethnic minorities. Far more common forms, however, are policies
which substantially restrict the participation of ethnic minority
members in the mainstream society. The institutions of the State
are not required to accommodate members of the ethnic minorities.
The State, in contrast with the assimilationist model, may however
allow, or in some cases sponsor, the development of parallel institutions
catering in a minimal fashion for the educational, health or cultural
needs of the ethnic minorities which they are excluded from satisfying
within the mainstream institutions.
A third major approach to policies accepts the potential, and
legitimacy, of ethnic minorities' cultural and social distinctiveness.
The multiculturalism model envisages that individuals and groups
can be fully incorporated into the society without either losing
their distinctiveness or being denied full participation. This
process of full participation is the key to the absence of ethnic
conflict. In order to achieve this goal of full participation,
the State institutions may need to be extensively modified so
as to provide equally for those from different cultural and social
backgrounds. In this process the State plays an active role of
sponsoring institutional change which may extend from the restructuring
of mainstream institutions to the support of parallel institutions.
These parallel institutions are integral to the society in contrast
to the marginalised status of the parallel institutional structures
associated with the differentialist model.
Multiculturalism alone of these three models acknowledges the
legitimacy and need for equality of ethnic groups in the expression
of their diverse cultures. In doing so it comes closest to a model
which has the potential to address the aspirations contained in
the various United Nations instruments on cultural, linguistic
and religious diversity.
Each of these three models of how States manage and organise their
policy responses to ethnic diversity is abstract and contains
little in the way of specific policy prescriptions or programs.
This abstraction derives from the way they are actually ideological-normative
statements with a moral and ethical force. As such, they constitute
slogans and supports for political action based on beliefs about
the nature of ethnicity and the ways in which society should operate.
Such beliefs are a critical dimension of each of the models and
contribute to the strong commitment which they arouse in their
supporters whether politicians, social commentators or members
of the general public.
Intersecting with these models are national mythologies about
the origins and characteristics of the State and the national
identity. The State may view itself as a 'nation of immigrants'
or the guardian of important revolutionary principles or, yet
again, the embodiment of a people or 'volk'. Together the models
and myths define the abstract notions of whom constitute the nation's
citizenry. This is why when States are classified into one or
other of the models, reference is frequently made to how they
legally define citizenship and assign nationality.
France (24) is the obvious example of a contemporary State which
addresses ethnic diversity with an assimilationist model. Special
force is given to the French assimilationist model by the way
in which it is grounded in the Jacobin ideology of the French
Revolution. Nationality, although based on ius sanguinis,
has strong elements of ius solis with French born children
acquiring citizenship if they had a French born parent or by declaration
made between the ages of 16 and 21 (OECD 1995, p.159). Immigrants
may also apply for naturalisation after five years and in 1993
over 60,000 were naturalised (OECD 1995, p.225). Citizenship is
viewed as a contract between the individual and the State without
the mediation of other entities. It is also based on the strict
separation of the private from the public space (Birnbaum, 1995).
Minority groups in France frequently use the Law of 1901 which
approves associations (Giordan, 1992) as a vehicle permitting
citizens (regardless of their origin) to organise the development
of the minority cultures and languages to which they are attached.
Yet the institutional frameworks guaranteeing the real practice
of this recognised right are lacking.
The differentialist model of addressing ethnic diversity, leaving
aside the extreme forms of ethnic cleansing, is associated especially
with States where citizenship is based on principles of ius
sanguinis. The effect of this is that native born members
of ethnic minorities such as Turks in Germany or Koreans in Japan
do not enjoy a natural right to citizenship in their countries
of birth. While provisions exist for naturalisation the procedures
often make it extremely difficult, even for permanent residents
and their locally born children, to apply successfully. The exclusion
of such 'outsiders' is further reinforced by national mythologies
which emphasise the cultural homogeneity of the nation.
The multi-cultural model is the most recent having been developed
only within the last three decades (25). Australia, Canada and
Sweden are the three States which have explicitly adopted a national
multicultural model to guide them in managing ethnic diversity.
Nationality in Canada and Australia is based primarily on ius
solis and there is easy access to naturalisation procedures
and citizenship for immigrants. While Sweden adheres to principles
of ius sanguinis it too, in practice, has procedures which favour
relatively easy naturalisation. In 1993, 8.5 per cent of the foreign
population acquired Swedish citizenship, a rate which was far
higher than in other European OECD countries with the Netherlands
at 5.7 per cent having the second highest rate (OECD 1995, p.158).
Complicating the illustration of the various models is the way
that, within specific States, the favoured policy models may have
changed over time. The official adoption by Canada and Australia
of multiculturalism involved the abandonment of earlier official
models of biculturalism and assimilation respectively. In France
there have been moves away from the assimilationist model to address
the needs of ethnic minorities (Castles 1995, p.301). Similarly,
Germany has begun moves away from the differentialist model (Castles
Within the one society different models may also exist for those
from different ethnic minorities. In Australia, for example, a
differentialist model for the Aboriginal population coexisted
with an assimilationist model for the immigrant population until
1967 when full citizenship rights were granted to Aborigines.
In Germany and Japan at the present time, those of German and
Japanese origin from their respective diasporic communities in
Eastern Europe and South America have citizenship while native
born members of ethnic minorities such as the Turks or Koreans
are excluded under ius sanguinis citizenship provisions.
Even when based on the criteria for citizenship, attempts to classify
States according to particular models may give only a partial
indication of their actual policy initiatives and programs. The
reason is the need to translate the slogans and models into specific
action and programs. It is through this process that the ideological-normative
models acquire their programmatic-political reality. This
process of translation is critical to appreciate in any discussion
of both the reality and the potential for change in policy responses
in multi-ethnic societies. To the extent that there is indeterminacy
or slippage in the translation from model to practice, the potential
for change is thereby increased.
Many factors influence the complex translation process but the
outcomes provide the bases for evaluating the claims of the competing
ideological-normative policy models. Given the claims and
counter-claims made concerning the model of multiculturalism and
its potential for enhancing, rather than minimising, ethnic divisions
and conflict, it is useful to examine briefly the experience of
those States who have adopted it as their ideological-normative
policy model and then sought to translate it into specific programs.
Origins and Developments
Canada was the first of the three States to adopt an official
policy of multiculturalism in 1971. This it did after the 1965
Report of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism
recommended the replacement of the bicultural policy, based on
the long-established British and French Charter groups, which
had operated for over a century. The impetus for the change was
concern among other immigrant, non-Charter groups about their
place in relation to these two dominant ethnic groups. The initial
focus in the policy was on the right to preservation of one's
culture and ethnicity as a part of Canadian national identity.
Subsequently, the focus of policy shifted to issues of equality,
social participation and national unity (Dorais, Foster &
Stockley 1994, p.375).
Supporting the policy is a range of legislation. In particular,
there is the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms which explicitly
forbade discrimination on the basis of race, national or ethnic
origin, colour or religion. However it did not contain a specific
guarantee to preserve and develop one's own specific ancestral
language or culture, although it noted that the Charter should
be interpreted in a manner consistent with Canadians' multicultural
heritage (Dorais, Foster & Stockley 1994 p.387). The 1988
Multiculturalism Act complemented the Charter with its two main
provisions which were that:
1. All members of Canadian society are free to preserve and share
their cultural heritages; their cultures and ancestral languages
should be protected and enhanced.
2. All federal institutions should promote policies, programs
and practices that ensure that Canadians of all origins have an
equal opportunity to obtain employment and advancement in those
institutions. Such policies etc. should also enhance the under-standing
of and respect for the diversity of the members of Canadian society.
By 1994, the Annual Report on the operation of the Multiculturalism
Act identified three main areas of government activity (Canada
1993-94, p.5) These were the need to eliminate racism and discrimination,
to overcome problems of integration faced by ethno-cultural and
visible minorities and to promote the shared values upon which
the nation is based. Accessible governmental institutions and
community education were seen as playing a key role in achieving
Australia like Canada viewed itself as an immigrant nation. However,
lacking a major ethnic group to compete with the British, a model
of assimilation to the dominant Angle-Celtic was strongly entrenched
as the way of achieving social integration. A major impetus for
the adoption of a multicultural model was a growing awareness
of the ineffectiveness of the assimilation model. This awareness
was spurred by the emergence of an ethnic rights movement including
articulate and politically active immigrants from non-English
speaking backgrounds together with predominantly Anglo-Celtic
workers in a range of welfare areas, education, health and social
services who were concerned by the disadvantages faced by many
non-English speaking background immigrants with whom they daily
came in contact. The 1972 election of a socialist-oriented government
committed to overcoming social disadvantage provided opportunities
for a shift in policy but it was not until 1978 under a conservative
government that multiculturalism became the official policy.
Canada's Population by ethnic Origin
Source: Statistics Canada (adapted)
Reflecting differences to Canada in its less legalistic, more
administratively oriented political culture, the Australian policy
on multiculturalism is embodied not in an Act nor as part of a
Charter of Rights, but in the 1989 National Agenda for a Multicultural
Australia. This was clearly stated as being applicable not just
to immigrants but to all Australians, including the indigenous
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. The National
Agenda, and its recent restatement (NMAC 1995), identified three
dimensions of multiculturalism for all Australians. These were
the right to cultural identity, the right to social justice and
the need for economic efficiency which involved the effective
development and utilisation of the talents and skills of all Australians.
Balancing these rights were, however, a series of explicit obligations
which included a primary commitment to Australia; an acceptance
of the basic structures and principles of Australian society including
the Constitution and rule of law, tolerance and equality, parliamentary
democracy, freedom of speech and religion, English as the national
language and equality of the sexes; and the obligation to accept
the rights of others to express their views and values.
One distinctive Australian feature of the policy model outlined
in the 1989 National Agenda for a Multicultural Australia was
an emphasis on the economic benefits which would be derived from
recognising and using fully the professional, linguistic and cultural
resources of all Australians. This extension linked individual
economic opportunities to government moves to restructure the
Australian economy by using the resources of its multicultural
population to develop international trade and to develop a more
flexible and highly skilled labour force. By emphasising the economic
advantages which would accrue from the policy, government was
legitimating its claim that multiculturalism was a policy for
all Australians and not just those from minority backgrounds (26).
In Sweden, the origins of multiculturalism as a policy, differed
yet again. In contrast to Australia and Canada its national identity
was not based on a view of itself as a nation of immigrants. Nevertheless,
after the Second World War, it received numbers of refugees and,
through the free movement established in the Nordic labour market
after 1954, substantial numbers of Finnish workers. As elsewhere
in Europe the needs of the expanding economy were also met by
the use of contract workers (27) from the Mediterranean, especially
Yugoslavia. Although extensive labour migration was discontinued
after the recession beginning in the early 1970's Sweden continued
to receive considerable numbers of refugees and asylum seekers.
In 1993, Sweden received almost 59,000 immigrants nearly two-thirds
of whom were refugees while one-third entered on the basis of
family reunion. Over half were from non-Nordic countries with
40 per cent being from outside Europe (OECD 1995, p.119). In addition
to these immigrants are the asylum seekers whose numbers peaked
in 1992 at 84,000 prior to the introduction of a series of visa
and administrative restrictions (OECD 1995, p.195). Individuals
from ex-Yugoslavia have been a major part of this inflow but it
has also included substantial numbers from Africa, Asia and other
non-European regions which has introduced new sources of cultural
diversity into the population. Despite these extensive inflows
Sweden's 1993 foreign-born population of 869,000 (9.9 per cent)
was still substantially below those of Canada (16.2 per cent)
and Australia (23.2 per cent). The Finnish were the largest overseas
born group constituting two-thirds of the 300,000 persons born
in Nordic countries. Iran, ex-Yugoslavia and Turkey are other
major birthplaces of the foreign born (OECD 1995, p.119, 209).
The Finnish minority has been seen as especially important in
Sweden's replacement of its earlier policy of assimilation by
multiculturalism (Skutnabb-Kangas 1983, p.136). Their free access
to Sweden and their ability to bring their families, including
children, together with guaranteed educational rights in the Nordic
cultural treaty, gave them a secure basis from which to demand
greater cultural rights. Once such rights were granted to them,
it laid the basis for similar claims from other immigrant groups
whose families were in Sweden and who had been able to organise
to pursue such rights. A recognition of the short-comings of the
strict assimilationist policy also co-existed with Sweden's extensive
welfare system which already was involved in extensive government
policy initiatives to redress disadvantage which could be extended
to the immigrant groups.
The 1975 adoption of the Swedish policy of multiculturalism was
based on three key principles 'equality', 'freedom of choice'
and 'partnership'. Hammar (1985, p.33) has described the intent
of these principles as follows:
The goal of equality implies the continued efforts to give
immigrants the same living standards as the rest of the population.
The goal of freedom of choice implies that public initiatives
are to be taken to assure members of ethnic and linguistic minorities
domiciled in Sweden a genuine choice between retaining and developing
their cultural identity and assuming a Swedish cultural identity.
The goal of partnership implies that the different immigrant
and minority groups on the one hand and the native population
on the other both benefits from working together.
As in Australia and Canada, the policy has developed over the
last two decades. In Sweden, however, the policy is more frequently
referred to as 'integration' where this is seen as being in opposition
to 'assimilation'. Even though not always referred to as a 'multiculturalism'
policy, the Swedish policy does share significant similarities
with the Australian and Canadian models. Many of these policy
developments result from strategies to address the needs of the
extensive refugee population and involved changing degrees of
involvement of local communities, as in 1985 when those throughout
Sweden were asked to become involved in accommodating and settling
the refugee populations (Alund & Schierup, 1991). At the present
time the whole policy on integration is under examination as to
its ability to cope with the large population inflows at a time
of major fiscal constraint and increasing concerns about racism
and xenophobia(Castles 1995, p.301). In November 1994 the government
replaced an earlier Parliamentary Commission to review immigration
and refugee policy with two new commissions. One was to review
immigration and refugee policy while the other, due to report
in the first half of 1996, was to review integration policy. Among
the issues to which special attention is being paid in this review
is the role of immigrants in the labour market, and how their
knowledge of Swedish language affects their opportunities to work
and participate in society. Housing and the range of the groups
to be covered by the policy are other issues to be examined by
the review (Sweden, Ministry of Labour, 1995 p.40).
The most important point to make about the detailed policies and
programs which have been undertaken by these three countries which
have officially adopted multiculturalism as their model for managing
cultural diversity is that the overall effectiveness of multiculturalism
as a policy model depends not on any one program or policy initiative
but on their cumulative effect. Within that framework, certain
policy directions and initiatives are evident (28).
Language and related educational policies have been a major focus
of Australian, Canadian and Swedish policies of multiculturalism.
All have sought to develop programs which ensure that children
have opportunities to learn to a reasonable level of competence
both the national language(s) and their mother tongue. This distinguishes
their policies from either the assimilationist focus only on the
national language or the isolationist/differentialist focus on
only the mother tongue (Skutnabb-Kangas 1983, p.130). All three
countries emphasise the need to equip students to be fluent in
the national language and to this end have been to the forefront
in developing teaching pedagogies and programs to facilitate the
learning of that language as a second language by adults as well
An important feature of the government support for minority language
initiatives is that they are not important solely as a means for
cultural maintenance but, also, as a way of incorporating individuals
equitably into the society. This rationale is evident in the operation
in Australia of the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS)
and the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS). The 24 hour a day,
7 days a week Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) provides
a nation-wide telephone service which assists non-English speakers
to receive emergency help as well as non-emergency access to an
interpreter. SBS provides regular multilingual radio programs.
In the two largest centres, Sydney and Melbourne, 63 and 59 different
language programs are provided respectively (NMAC 1995, p.65)
which provide an important source of information about community
and mainstream activities and services. In addition the SBS national
television channel (which reaches 75 per cent of the population)
broadcasts international news and features in a range of languages
as well as providing a series of English language news and other
programs addressing issues pertinent to Australian cultural diversity.
Despite their commitment to religious freedom, Australia, Canada
and Sweden all have strong Christian traditions. As in other areas
of cultural diversity schools, workplaces and welfare services
are now becoming aware of the need for greater knowledge and understanding
of these differences. Responding to this need have been a range
of public and privately provided cross-cultural training programs.
In addition there is increasing employment by organisations of
professional and managerial staff who are from diverse ethnic
backgrounds and thereby bring additional skills into these organisations.
The experience which has accumulated in Australia, Canada and
Sweden shows, however, that neither special language services
nor educational courses may, in themselves, be sufficient to ensure
equality in participation and access to a range of social services.
What has become increasingly clear from a range of evaluation
studies of social justice initiatives is that there is a need
to also change the way in which the organisation (and its staff)
relate to the client/patient/student/citizen. What this cultural,
and sometimes structural, change requires is a focus not on the
way the system operates but on the needs of the individual which
it is serving. The importance of such institutional change as
a way of achieving greater social justice and equity which is
now emphasised in Australia and Canada is more radical than proposals
which argue for the setting up of parallel cultural institutions.
Such a thoroughgoing reconsideration of the operation of service
delivery organisations has implications which extend beyond ethnic
minorities to all users.
The nexus between employment and education and training has been
one of general concern in all three societies which have experienced
historically high levels of unemployment that have particularly
affected the immigrant and ethnic minority populations. The need
to overcome inequities in employment has been viewed as a key
to avoiding the growth of structural disadvantage among ethnic
minority groups. While access to language training and increased
flexibility in recognising training and experience gained in other
countries have been important initiatives, the issues of discrimination
in employment and other areas have also needed to be addressed.
Australia and Canada have long had anti-discrimination legislation
and Sweden passed a similar law in 1994.
Access to affordable and suitable housing is a frequent concern
among ethnic minorities and to those from other groups who fear
the invasion of their neighbourhood. Australia, Canada and Sweden
have been fortunate in largely avoiding the development of dense,
sub-standard and over-crowded urban ghettos found in other parts
of Europe and North America. Dense, single ethnic group concentrations
are rare although class is an important determinant of residential
patterns. The potential for housing to become a political issue
nevertheless exists as the Vancouver, Canada debate over the 'monster'
homes which Asian immigrants were accused of favouring in a middle
class suburb clearly shows (Li, 1994).
Racism, both of an institutional and an individual kind, has received
increasing attention in policy initiatives. In addition to legislative
and administrative action, there has been increasing attention
paid to the need for community relations and education strategies
which target various groups such as the police force and media.
Canada, where the term 'visible minority' officially describes
one cluster of ethnic minority groups, has devoted considerable
attention to this area. Again, this area of policy development
with its focus primarily on the majority community and institutions
has been developed after initiatives designed to ensure greater
social equity. As such, it involves a recognition of the need
for complementary policy initiatives to achieve the objectives
espoused in the statements of the respective multicultural policies.
As the comparison of Australia, Canada and Sweden indicates, multiculturalism
as a national policy model has so far been developed in only a
small number of societies, albeit ones in which it grew out of
somewhat different historical circumstances. In all instances
though, the initial reason for the adoption of the policy was
a perception that previous models of addressing ethnic diversity
were not achieving their objectives and/or were not addressing
the interests and needs of the ethnic minority groups. While ethnic
minority groups were not alone in advocating change, the ability
of minority group members to influence political decision making
was important (29). Significantly in all three countries the policy
has not been restricted to citizens but incorporates also those
described by Hammar (1990, p.15) as 'denizens' that is foreign
citizens with a legal and permanent resident status.
While the specific policy initiatives and programs developed in
each country varied, there was a significant shift from an initial
focus on programs directed to addressing concerns about cultural
maintenance to those concerned with equality and the removal of
disadvantage. This shift in emphasis indicates how those participants
in the policy-making process, including members of the ethnic
minorities, are as alert to the importance of overcoming economic
and social disadvantage as a basis for improving the status of
ethnic minorities as they are to seeking to maintain a traditional
culture. It clearly suggests that ethnic minority groups may be
far more pragmatic about the importance of social equality than
is sometimes implied in the culturalist critiques of the multiculturalist
Australian and Canadian statements on multiculturalism take considerable
effort to emphasise that it is a policy for 'managing' ethnic
diversity. Implicit in this is the view that its purpose is not
solely to 'maintain' ethnic diversity. As an examination of the
statements and policies make plain its aim is to provide a meaningful
'choice' for individuals from diverse ethnic backgrounds so that
they are neither excluded in separatist sectors of the society
nor forced to assimilate to the mainstream society. Both strategies
may marginalise individuals so creating pre-conditions for the
emergence of ethnic conflict and violence.
Consistent with the view that the multicultural model is not concerned
solely with the maintenance of a specific culture is the emphasis,
which is most clearly stated in the Australian National Agenda,
summarised above, that the policy involves not only rights but,
also, obligations to the whole society.
One striking feature of the implementation of the multicultural
model is that the practices associated with the policy have, again
in contradiction of the critiques of multiculturalism, resulted
in extremely limited evidence of either inter-ethnic violence
or conflict. Furthermore this has occurred at a time when all
three countries have experienced major economic recessions and
constraints on their finances which have affected the State's
ability to undertake a variety of social programs. In such circumstances,
the potential for identifying scapegoats among minority groups
is considerable, specially if they are perceived as having received
more than a fair share of society's resources. That racism and
discrimination have not been more marked speaks to the effectiveness
of the policy model for managing ethnic diversity. From the perspective
of members of ethnic minorities, the opportunities which have
existed for them to participate fully in society without needing
to reject their ethnic identity has clearly been a factor encouraging
a high level of commitment to the Australian, Canadian or Swedish
society and State. From the perspective of the dominant ethnic
group there has clearly been a high level of tolerance and acceptance
not only of diversity but, also, of the advantages which all members
of the society can gain from it.
While the strong role of the State in all three countries has
provided important opportunities for State-initiated interventions,
a critical issue is the extent to which these initiatives have
been accepted by the majority populations. Incidences of racism
and discrimination highlight the limitations in achieving complete
acceptance. The need for improved community relations between
majority and minority groups and among minority groups are widely
recognised. The removal of structural disadvantage associated
with ethnic minority status has been an important strategy in
all the societies. Complementing it has been the existence of
legislation restricting discrimination and racist violence. Community
education has also been an important strategy for overcoming potential
Both Canada and Australia have made extensive use of the powers
of Federal governments to influence Federal government departments
and agencies as well as state or provincial and municipal authorities
to adopt multiculturalism as a policy. While the extent to which
state or provincial authorities have adopted multicultural policies
in the areas of their own jurisdiction has varied, there is far
greater uniformity in Australia than in Canada where Quebec has
seen multiculturalism as a policy which may interfere with the
special status of Quebec and the francophone culture.
A major feature of the multicultural policy model is that the
State and government institutions have played a leading role in
policy formulation and implementation. However, if the policy
is to become pervasive it also requires the involvement of private
organisations and institutions. With the increasing reductions
in government budgets and a clear pattern of government withdrawal
from service provision this involvement becomes especially critical.
In contrast to their use of funding allocations and reporting
requirements to influence other public sector organisations the
ability of Federal authorities to enforce co-operation from the
private sector is much more limited. The attempt to encourage
adoption of multiculturalism in the operation of private organisations
has relied extensively on advocating the economic advantages which
may be derived from it in terms of expanding their markets or
being able to better utilise the skills of their employees. This
willingness to appeal to economic motivation highlights the pragmatism
which underlines the implementation of the policy and the way
in which it is argued of being of benefit to all in the society,
not just those from ethnic minority backgrounds.
The ultimate test of the policies of multiculturalism is their
acceptance by the general public. In all three societies the policies
have been subject to criticism from academics and others. Common
criticisms concern perceived threats to existing social traditions
and the national culture as well as the costs associated with
what are perceived to be 'special' programs. Attempts to refute
such claims by reference to the way in which special expenditure
may be cost effective in the long term are only partially effective
in responding to the critics. However, evidence from public opinion
polls in both Canada and Australia suggests that in general there
is considerable support for multiculturalism (see Box 4). Perhaps
more significantly for the future of the policy is the extent
to which in elections there is public support for political parties
supportive of programs associated with the policy. While anti-immigration
candidates have achieved some success in recent elections in Australia,
the far more significant outcome of recent election experiences
is that both major political parties now appreciate that multicultural
programs have considerable appeal to voters.
The adoption of multicultural policy models was initially inspired by a desire to address the issue of how to integrate immigrant ethnic minorities. Even where, as in Australia, the concern to extend the policy to apply to all Australians explicitly included the indigenous population, the relationship of multiculturalism to both indigenous groups or a long-established group such as the Francophone Quebecois remains highly problematic. Such groups see dangers in a policy which they fear may reduce their own status to that of simply being one of many ethnic minorities. They also fear that their specific needs, often associated with land and identity with a particular territory, may be overlooked.
In all three countries, indigenous groups have a unique legal-administrative
status with associated entitlements. Australia has gone furthest
in seeking to include Aborigines and Torres Strait Islander groups
within the policy of multiculturalism but this has only been done
while retaining an extensive set of distinct policies and programs
for the indigenous population. While Australian indigenous groups
do not appear to share the extensive hostility to 'multiculturalism'
which is evident among New Zealand Maoris, the issue of their
relation to non-Aboriginal society is a sensitive one and the
existing policy of multiculturalism clearly would not be seen
by them as an adequate way of addressing their situation and needs.
The near success of the 1995 Quebec referendum which would have
authorised the provincial government to negotiate secession from
Canada is evidence of the strength of separatist feeling which
exists in that Province. However, the roots of this separatism
lie more in long held concerns about the relationship between
French and British Charter groups than they do with the policy
of multiculturalism as such. Indeed, under Canada's Federal system
Quebec has been able to develop its own policy on 'interculturalism'
in such a way as not to limit the special position of Quebec Francophone
culture (Leman 1995).
As a dynamic policy model the future development of multi- culturalism
in these three States is clearly an important issue. As indicated
above there are indications that Sweden is in fact reconsidering
its commitment to the policy model which developed within the
context of that country's highly developed state welfare system
unlike Australia and Canada where the policy has had a higher,
more independent profile. The financial costs of any interventionist
policy are clearly a matter of considerable debate at a time of
economic recession and Canada's current review of the policy must
be seen against this background. Even entrenched and strongly
institutionalised policies may find it difficult to withstand
attack. Despite concerns for the future of multiculturalism as
a policy model in Australia and Canada a recent assessment suggested
that their continuation was likely (Dorais, Foster & Stockley
Both nations are currently re examining their national identity
and their national integrity and multicultural policies will inevitably
be affected by these reviews. In Canada, the prime question is
how Quebec's regional ethno-nationalist aspirations may be accommodated.
For Australia, the task is less immediately challenging and revolves
around government-led initiatives to further reduce its links
with Britain through becoming a republic. Clearly, the extensive
multicultural character of Australian society makes this a project
which enjoys much public support although there are many questions
remaining about how this diversity will be encompassed and symbolised
in the new identity. The replacement in March 1996 of the thirteen
year old Federal Labour Government by a conservative Liberal-National
Party coalition Government has already seen the issue of the move
to a republic placed lower on the list of government policy priorities.
Less obvious is the new Government's attitude to a range of programs
associated with multiculturalism, although it is already evident
that in the Government's move to cut its expenditure by US$ 6.3
billion in 3 years, no areas of policy will be protected from
The sense of concern is evident in a recent OECD publication (OECD 1995, p.46) which posed the question: "Integration problems: a failure of integration models or a reflection of economic crisis?" In fact, the choice is false. Clearly high levels of unemployment and strains in the welfare system are contributing to ethnic conflict in many European and other industrial societies. But as we have just seen they are not the only factors increasing diversity and introducing tensions.
There is also a sense that existing policy models are failing.
The assimilationist model is being questioned as it becomes increasingly
evident that assimilation is not occurring as intended and that,
indeed, there is a growing sense of alienation among many of those
from ethnic minority backgrounds. At the extreme, this is associated
with a retreat into a fundamentalist reassertion of a culturally-based
distinctiveness. A further concern with the assimilation model
is that the growing levels of international mobility question
one of the key premises of the model. This is that after arrival
in a new society the individual will locate there permanently.
Increasingly we know that this does not happen in the short-term,
or even the longer-term. From an individual perspective assimilation
hence increasingly represents an un- realistic model even in those
'immigrant' societies which have used immigration as a means of
nation-building. Where States have resorted to differentialist
models as a way of managing ethnic diversity the difficulties
of ensuring a 'separate but equal' outcome for ethnic minorities
are all too evident. Failure to approach this objective generates
increasingly pressing demands for social justice often associated
with a strengthening of minority group solidarity.
The experiences of those limited number of States which have explicitly
espoused multiculturalism as a policy response to ethnic diversity
have indicated that while the policy is certainly contested it
has, nevertheless, shown considerable durability. Contrary to
many of its critics, where it has been adopted as official State
policy it is not necessarily associated with a widening and deepening
of the divide between ethnic groups. However where, as in the
United States, there is no such policy at a national level and
multiculturalism is advocated by ethnic minority groups and their
supporters as an oppositional policy, then it should not be surprising
that many of the policies they propose reflect the existence of
a deep divide between ethnic groups. That this is so should not
be blamed on multiculturalism. Rather, it reflects how the existence
of assimilation as the dominant ideological-normative model, even
when supplemented by programmatic-political models which have
sought to redress social disadvantage and inequality, has only
been partially successful. In a society such as the United States
where the scope for extensive State intervention is limited by
a strong tradition of individualism and a focus on societal regulatory
mechanisms, including those of the market, mechanisms for alleviating
deeply entrenched social disadvantage and injustice are limited.
The application of any policy model will obviously be affected
by the characteristics of the society in which it operates as
is evident in the comparison of Australia, Canada and Sweden.
While it is true that Sweden may be retreating from multiculturalism
as an explicit policy of integration, its adoption by Sweden indicates
that its utility was not confined only to States which have been
built on extensive settler immigration. The attraction of multiculturalism
for all three States was its perceived ability to address policy
issues associated with immigrant minority groups in a way that
was consistent with their democratic ideals.
Given the significance of immigrant minority groups in many multi-ethnic
societies, multiculturalism has considerable potential as an alternative
policy model. By comparison with the assimilationist and differentialist
models it does, however, require and benefit from a much more
interventionist role by the State, especially in the early phases
when the struggle for legitimacy and resources are greatest. Such
a tradition of State involvement and active engagement in policy
making and implementation is, however, compatible with the political
traditions in many European nations as well as in many States
in Asia and other regions of the world.
The adoption of multiculturalism as the replacement for an existing
national model of integration involves difficulties. The financial
constraints on State expenditure and the high levels of unemployment
which have already exacerbated existing inter-ethnic relations
cannot be ignored. There is also the need to identify the specific
strategies to be followed in implementing the policy. As the case
studies showed, a feature of the multicultural model is that,
as a model which involves ultimately institutional and personal
change, the strategies appropriate and feasible vary from one
stage of implementation to the next. Hence, evaluation of the
policy should ideally take a long term perspective. Such a luxury
may not be possible in the present situation where policy makers
seek urgent solutions.
Yet, the difficulties are not perhaps insuperable nor the task
so daunting as may at first appear. Many European countries in
their current attempts to facilitate integration have already
in place many programs and strategies which are compatible with
a multicultural policy model. Acceptance of dual citizenship and
moves towards ius solis are two examples where apparently
strong legal barriers to less discriminatory treatment of ethnic
minorities are weakening. The fact that the Council of Europe
has a Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public
Life at Local Level is a further indication that many relevant
issues have already received considerable attention. The various
forums and agencies associated with the European Union and the
Council of Europe have been extremely active in not only identifying
issues but examining and evaluating a variety of programs and
solutions (e.g. Baubock 1995; Council of Europe 1994; European
Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions
1994). There is thus already in place in Europe an important set
of knowledge concerning possible strategies and programs. The
challenge in adopting a multicultural policy model thus lies in
the way these programs are utilised.
The point was made in the context of the case studies that multiculturalism
does not consist of one specific type of program or strategy.
Instead, its effectiveness depends on the cumulative effect of
various strategies which together ensure that cultural diversity
is encouraged at the same time that its connection with disadvantage
is severed and becomes seen by the entire population as a positive
contribution to society, rather than merely something to be tolerated.
This is not to imply that toleration in some circumstances represents
an advance on existing community attitudes. Rather it is to emphasise
that the important contribution of a multicultural model lies
not merely in the way it involves specific programs and practices.
Instead, its significance is that it enjoins a re-conceptualisation
of how to manage integration by replacing the often paternalistic
provision of services to minorities by a more participatory and
consultative process. Such a shift represents a major advance
in the democratic process in multi-ethnic societies.
Despite the way in which many of the existing ideological-normative
models are already being bypassed in the search for programmatic-political
policies to address integration, some States may feel that overt
support for a multicultural model would be politically unacceptable.
Experience has shown that this, while it deprives many local programs
of legitimacy and resources, need not preclude the development
at a lower policy level of programs with objectives compatible
with a multicultural model. While such programs face difficulties
in becoming institutionalised, their existence is valuable as
a model for others involved in policy development and implementation.
In societies where sub-national regions have a considerable role
in policy-making and implementation, multicultural initiatives
at this level are of particular significance. Especially where
minorities are concentrated in certain regions, local initiatives
are extremely valuable as examples of what can be achieved through
an explicitly multicultural policy. The case of Frankfurt, which
in 1989 established an Office for Multicultural Affairs to mediate
between migrants and the municipal bureaucracy and to reduce conflict
at the source before it has a chance to escalate, shows that the
potential for change exists even in societies seen to be far from
supportive of policies of multiculturalism (Friedmann, 1995; Friedmann
& Lehrer, forthcoming). Although susceptible to changes in
political control and the departure of key figures such cases
provide further support for questioning the validity of the negative
predictions by the critics of multiculturalism.
Given the strong hostilities which have been aroused to multiculturalism
by the often rabid reactions to those seeking greater acknowledgement
of the rights of cultural and ethnic minorities, policy makers
may feel that another less contentious term would be desirable.
The lack of specificity of a term such as 'integration', which
is no doubt the reason for its popularity, is clearly inadequate
for the task. Whatever word is chosen as an alternative to multiculturalism
it is critical that it should clearly indicate that diversity
is not merely tolerated but welcomed as a benefit for the whole
society. It is precisely this acknowledgement that gives the term
multiculturalism its power and efficacy to bring together majority
and minority ethnic groups.
So far this discussion has considered the relevance of multiculturalism
as a policy model involving immigrant ethnic minority groups and
predominantly in Europe. The growing importance of immigration
elsewhere in the world raises the possibility of the model being
applied in other regions. Certainly in many countries the existence
of a strong State may be compatible with the introduction of multiculturalism
but the term itself has so far gained little currency outside
the Western industrialised countries. Many States have policies
to manage ethnic diversity which resemble the differentialist
or, less frequently, the assimilationist model. To the extent
that problems of managing ethnic diversity have not yet engendered
the soul-searching now evident in the industrial countries there
may be as yet little willingness to consider the potential utility
of a multi-culturalist model. This should not be seen though as
necessarily indicating the inappropriateness of the model. Nevertheless,
the adoption of multiculturalism as a model would involve considerable
institutional change, not least where States have only partially
adopted a commitment to democratic processes.
The policy situation where doubt does exist concerning the utility
of the multiculturalist model is where the ethnic minority group
involved is what Kymlicka has termed a 'national minority' that
is a previously self-governing, territorially concentrated culture.
Clear examples are many indigenous populations, or those groups
previously associated in federations such as ex-Yugoslavia or
the former USSR. In contrast to 'ethnic groups' he argues that
these national minorities typically wish to maintain themselves
as distinct societies alongside the majority culture, and demand
various forms of autonomy or self-government to ensure their survival
as distinct entities (1995 p.10). As we know from the case
studies, the situation of such groups has largely been attended
to outside the policy framework of multiculturalism. Whether this
is inevitable, or always appropriate, may need to be left as an
open question not least because many individuals with links to
these national minorities live outside the home territories among
the rest of society and other ethnic minorities. For these individuals
multiculturalism may constitutes an attractive policy model.
Ultimately, however, it is necessary to acknowledge that there
are limits as to what a multiculturalist model can be expected
to achieve. In situations characterised by extended and violent
conflict any attempt at reconciliation will inevitably be problematic.
Similarly where there is a long history of inter ethnic hostility
and a failure of alternative policy models to result in integration,
the task facing a multiculturalist model in seeking to 'turn around'
the existing situation is immense. While the absence of an alternative
may recommend a multicultural policy, the expectations attached
to its adoption should be realistic and acknowledge the difficulty
of the task involved and the issues to be worked through. That
said, a commitment to diversity carries a powerful positive message
to minority groups which can counter their perceived need to argue
in terms of broad ambit claims or to retreat into a fundamentalist
isolation and resistance to integration.
It may be argued that this is because such societies are not,
in fact, really applying multicultural policies. Such a criticism
overlooks the actual stated commitment to do so. It also overlooks
the reality of the policy-making process which requires considerable
translation in the move from abstract policy models to decision-making
and then implementation. In this process of translation, the uniqueness
of each State's historical context cannot be overlooked. The institutions,
the nature of diversity, the role of governments in formulation
of policies as well as the scope for inputs by relevant stake-holders
all play a part in the decision making process as well as in the
implementation of specific programs and strategies. Additional
indeterminacy is related to the need for such policies to be implemented
by individuals whose own actions can affect the policy outcomes.
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1. (I am necessarily a man... and I am French only by chance.) The antinomic stance is the one formulated by the 19th century conservative thinker Joseph de Maistre (1980): "Il n'y a point d'hommes dans le monde. J'ai vu dans ma vie des Français, des Italiens, des Russes, etc...; mais quant à l'homme je déclare ne l'avoir rencontré de ma vie..." (There aren't men in the world. I've seen in my life French, Italians, Russians, etc...; as regards the man, however, I declare not having met him throughout my lifetime...)
2. These projects are:
3. The following contributions were prepared:
4. Ethnic groups are treated in this paper as socially constructed
categories which refer to social groupings with a shared sense
of peoplehood based on national identity, language, religion,
physical characteristics or a combination of these attributes.
The inclusion of racial groups as a subset of ethnic groups reflects
the way attributions of differences in physical appearance, and
its social significance, tends to be highly problematic across
societies. Furthermore, the terminology of 'racism' is no longer
restricted in common usage to groups which are necessarily distinguishable
on the basis of physical characteristics.
5. 'Multi-ethnic' societies refers to those societies which contain
multiple ethnic groups. 'Multi-cultural' also refers to the same
type of societies. While it is sometimes used in an extended sense
to refer to the cultural differences associated with a variety
of alternative life-styles not linked to ethnicity but to gender
or sexual preferences this is not a primary usage nor is it followed
in this paper (cf also Kymlicka 1995, p.18)
11. He pointed to the potential of what he termed "plural
societies" to breakup in the face of bitter ethnic rivalries
once the stabilising influence of the colonial power was removed
(Furnivall 1939; 1948).
12. Sassen's work on the emergence of global cities is an example
of a critique which points to a declining significance for the
State associated with these global cities taking a
leading role in the development of international finance. (1991;
13. Detailed discussion of the changes in international population
movements are beyond the scope of this paper where the primary
focus is on their implications for ethnic relations. However,
recent accounts of these movements can be found in Appleyard (1991)
Castles & Miller (1993), Kritz, Lim & Zlotnik (1992),
Stahl et al (1993) and Stalker (1994).
14. The 1951 United Nations Convention and its 1967 Protocol define
as a refugee 'any person who...owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted
for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular
social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his
nationality and is unable or...unwilling to avail himself of the
protection of that country'
15. This international system is, however, under considerable
strain because of the increasing numbers of refugees and, especially,
concerns about the adequacy of the restricted Convention definition
of refugee which is applied to those seeking asylum. In October
1995 the un High Commissioner for Refugees, Ms Sadako Ogata, told
a conference that the un asylum apparatus was threatened with
collapse. Besides the expanding scope of the UNHCR's activities
she also identified as a major difficulty the decreasing willingness
of host nations to accommodate refugees seeking asylum.
16. For many observers they thus are viewed as little different
to the illegal immigrants who exist without legal permission in
many countries, and in often large numbers. Their illegal and
undocumented status ensures that estimates of their numbers are
18. A more positive strategy is that designed to assist in the
economic development of major source regions in Eastern Europe,
Africa, Latin America and Asia thereby limiting the economic factors
which may encourage individuals to emigrate. However, as the Report
of the US Presidential Commission for the Study of International
Migration and Cooperative Economic Development concluded in 1990
this is a very long term strategy and its immediate effects may
actually be to encourage flows of emigrants (United States, 1990
19. A similar pattern of permanent immigration but one for which
detailed statistics are not available involves nationals of member
States of the European Union who can now move freely within the
20. Much Mexican immigration to the USA has been illegal but with
the 1986 Immigration and Reform Control Act provisions were created
which allowed many long resident Mexicans to gain legal residency.
This has accounted for the very large numbers of Mexicans appearing
in recent US immigration statistics which include these legalisations.
21. The ability of ethnic minorities to participate in this process
varies considerably depending on the extent to which they enjoy
full citizenship rights. However, even where groups may not participate
directly in the process, their views may be represented by intermediaries
and support groups.
22. The importance of complementing legal citizenship by a broader
concept of social citizenship was identified by Marshall (1964)
in his discussion of the evolution of citizenship from a concept
emphasising duties to a focus on right where he argued that social
citizenship played a crucial role in the attainment of equality.
23. Such a set of ideal types can always be expanded into a more
complex taxonomy. Indeed, as discussed below, fitting a specific
society into one of these models may present challenges, especially
where the state policy is ambiguous or where the state plays a
limited role in determining domestic policy.
25. Much longer established are other pluralist models which however
are based on different assumptions to the multicultural model.
The 'plural society' model described by Furnivall is typical of
colonial societies where cohesion and lack of ethnic conflict
was dependent on the operation of the market place buttressed
ultimately by the force which could be brought to bear by the
colonial administration. It is thus closer in form to the differentialist
model than the multiculturalist model where there is a consensual
commitment to the national benefits of pluralism rather than an
enforcement of it by the State.
26. Through this focus the Australian policy showed that ethnic
minority members of the society, instead of merely having the
potential to produce socially disruptive conflict, had the capacity
to contribute to the society's ability to gain (economic) advantage
from encounters with business people, tourists, students and others
who were encountered in the pursuit of economic interests. In
doing this it brought together both the negative and the positive
dimensions of the renewed focus on ethnicity which were identified
at the beginning of this paper.
28. More information on programs can be found in the Annual Reports
of government agencies and evaluation studies of particular programs
and areas. Box 3 summarises some recent Australian initiatives
as an example of the diversity of the programs involved in a policy
Universal Declaration on Human Rights
Source: UNESCO, Human Rights: Major International Instruments, Status as at 31 May 1996 (prepared by J. Symonides, V. Volodine and S.Rivet)
Ethnic Minority Languages
- The teaching of the ethnic language and its use as a medium of instruction in schools
- The existence of radio, television and print media in the ethnic language.
- The use of the ethnic minority language in other institutional areas including health, welfare services, and the legal system
- The availability of interpreters and the provision of information in translation in the ethnic minority language
- Institutional structures which are compatible with a religion's tenets e.g. in the legal system, education
- Access to nationality of the country of permanent residence
- Availability of dual nationality
- Existence of a special status for ethnic minority group
- Freedom of association among ethnic group members and the right to form their own social organisations
- Freedom of cultural expression
- Curriculum which incorporates the perspectives and experiences of ethnic minority students
- Recognition of existing qualifications and experience
- Access to training opportunities
- The delivery of these services in a way which takes account of the ethnic minority's cultural patterns
- An absence of discriminatory practices
- The opportunity for the minority to take responsibility for making decisions relevant to its concerns
An indication of the breadth of focus of the Australian policy
of multiculturalism is contained in the 1995 Review of the progress
achieved in implementing the 1989 National Agenda for a Multicultural
Australia (National Multicultural Advisory Council, 1995 vol.2).
Listed below are the key areas examined in the Review of Federal
government initiatives with select examples of specific programs
- Participation in the Judiciary, Police Force and Defence Force
- Participation in Senior Management and Unions
- Participation in the Arts, Media and Sport
Affirmative action measures were not proposed as a means of increasing participation. Among initiatives to increase representation on advisory bodies was the establishment of a Register containing the names and qualifications of people from indigenous and non-English speaking backgrounds interested in appointment to such bodies.
- Administrative Review Procedures
- Use of Interpreters
- Access to Justice
- Racial Discrimination
A review was undertaken by the Australian Law Reform Commission on the appropriateness of Australian contract, criminal and family law for a society made up of people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Recommendations for change included amendments to existing legislation, enhanced community education, improved access and use of interpreters throughout the legal system and improved cross-cultural sensitivity training for people working in the legal system.
- Community Services and Health
- Local Government Development Program
- Migrant Access Projects Scheme
- Consumer Education
The Commonwealth Government's Strategy to improve access to and equity in the delivery of government services included extending the scope of the Strategy from only immigrants to include all those who may face barriers of race, culture, or language including indigenes and second generation Australians of non-English speaking background. Priority was given to health and community services and involved the development of awareness campaigns and the monitoring of participation by target groups as a basis for identifying where there was a need to improve the delivery of services to under-represented groups.
- Employment Services
- Productive Diversity
- Training Reform
- Industrial Relations
The provision of free bridging courses with financial
allowances to participants to assist overseas trained professionals
to undertake the additional study necessary to facilitate re-entry
to the profession in Australia.
Language and Communication
- Opportunities for Learning Languages Other than English
- Use of Language Skills in the Australian Public Service
- Education for Cross-cultural Understanding
The provision of a range of English as a Second Language programs
for school children and adults, including new arrivals and job
seekers and funding for workplace English programs.
- Community Attitudes Towards Multiculturalism
- Community Relations
- Media and Communication Services
- Collecting Institutions
- Policies for the Arts
The establishment of the Special Broadcasting Service to provide television and radio services in a wide range of community languages
A recent comparative survey of Australian and Canadian public
opinion concluded that in both countries there had been a hardening
of attitudes against immigrants, with Australian data especially
indicating that in the early 1990's there was a hostility to high
levels of immigration (Holton & Lanphier, 1994, p.130). This
hardening of attitudes has coincided with a prolonged economic
recession in both countries.
How this hardening of attitudes towards immigration affects individuals
attitudes towards multiculturalism is difficult to asses, in part
because surveys of attitudes towards multiculturalism yield sometimes
inconsistent results (Goot, 1993; Holton & Lanphier, 1994,
In Canada, a 1991 national survey for the government found that 61 per cent of the sample supported multi- culturalism, with support strongest among the young, the better educated and women. However, only 43 per cent believed that minorities should preserve their cultural heritage. While 79 per cent of respondents felt that multi-culturalism was essential to uniting Canada, in practice, only 47 per cent believed that it would, in fact, help unite Canada. While there were a range of negative assessments of multiculturalism's impact, these were apparently less strongly held than more positive assessments as can be seen in the following summary of multicuturalism's effects (as reported in Holton & Lanphier, 1994, pp.145-6):
That a somewhat similar pattern of diverse views exists in Australia towards the effects of multiculturalism is evident from a major survey undertaken in 1988 (as reported in Goot, 1993, p.238):
Although there is a consistently higher number of those who are
pro, rather than anti, multiculturalism, on these measures the
largest number of individuals lay in between either extreme (Goot,
1993, p.240).Those born in Asia and Europe were more supportive
of multiculturalism than those born in Australia or the United
Kingdom while support was strongest among those aged 20 to 39
(Goot, 1993, p.240).
A smaller, more recent survey suggests that there may not be so
much difference between the Australian and over
seas born, although it does not distinguish between those born
in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The June 1994 survey of 1000
persons throughout Australia (Irving Saulwick & Associates,
1994) indicated that:
- about two-thirds of both groups thought that 'Australia is a
better place to live now that people from so many countries live
- about 60 per cent of both groups thought that 'migrants should
learn to live and behave like the majority of Australians do'.
A similar proportion also agreed 'that if people from a particular
ethnic background want to mix mainly with themselves, they should
not be criticised for doing so' although the overseas born were
slightly less likely to support this position than the Australian
- three quarters considered that Australia was a tolerant society
although the overseas born were slightly more likely to do so
than the Australian born.
In this more recent survey, as in the Canadian survey, women, young people and the better educated tended to have more liberal views.
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