Multiculturalism and Political Integration in Modern Nation-States: Thematic Introduction

John Rex & Gurharpal Singh

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The question of multiculturalism has been central to the political concerns of European countries since 1945. It covers a number of different issues, however, and which of them predominates has varied with differing political circumstances. It reflected concern about immigration and the ways in which immigrants might settle in Western Europe in the 1950s and 1960s. After the break-up of communism in 1989 and the resurgence of ethnic nationalism in the East, it centred around questions of devolution of power from central national governments to regionally based sub-national groups and the possibilities of power-sharing at the centre. Third, it has had to deal with the growing numbers of political refugees and asylum seekers in Western Europe. Fourth, and most recently, in the wake of terrorist attacks on the United States and the subsequent assertion of American power in the world at large, it has been concerned with the dangers posed by unassimilated immigrant groups.

It is not the intention of this paper to deal in detail with each of the structures and processes in all the different political situations to which reference will be made. Rather it seeks to place these situations within an overall conceptual framework and, in doing so, to produce a general theory of multiculturalism.

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:

Rex, John & Singh, Gurharpal. Multiculturalism and Political Integration in Modern Nation-States: Thematic Introduction. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2003, vol. 5, no.1, pp. 3-19. UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574.

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