The Management of Multiculturalism: Coming to Terms with the Multiplication of Experienced Difference

Hans Siebers

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Abstract

Multiculturalism, understood as the multiplication of experienced difference, is today at the forefront of social transformation. It entails opportunities and risks, but how can we deal with these, especially the latter? This paper sketches a framework for understanding these risks in terms of both extrapolated fragmentation and fundamentalist reactions. Moreover, drawing on some of the main writers involved, the main positions in the political and theoretical debate about multiculturalism are discussed to assess their contributions to developing a management principle for dealing with these risks. These positions are neoliberalism, egalitarian liberalism, communitarianism and deliberative democracy. However, it is shown that, for different reasons, none of these positions is able to provide encompassing and convincing answers to the challenge posed by these risks. A differential and contextualised approach is called for in which elements from these positions may be applied fruitfully. Nevertheless, this paper serves to demonstrate the need for further reflection and indicates the main issues on the agenda.

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:

Siebers, Hans. The Management of Multiculturalism: Coming to Terms with the Multiplication of Experienced Difference.IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2004, vol. 6, no.2, pp. 300-321. UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574. www.unesco.org/shs/ijms/vol6/issue2/art6

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