Identity and integration in an international context: problems and ambiguities in the new politics of multiculturalism
2015-07-13T15:04:56Z (GMT) by
Debates about multiculturalism, minority rights, and identity dominated Anglo-American political theory during the majority of the 1990s, and continue to raise important questions concerning the nature of citizenship, community, and the responsibilities of liberal states. They were popular, too, among policy makers, politicians, and journalists: many academics and practitioners were, for a time, united in their support for multiculturalism. Just as the philosophical literature at that time became more ‘multiculturalist’, so many European states increasingly adopted multiculturalist policies as a way of including historically marginalised groups into mainstream liberal culture or, in some cases, as a way of protecting minority groups from unfair pressures from the majority culture. However, as time has gone on, the multiculturalist turn in liberal political theory, and among many European governments, has waned. In the wake of terrorist atrocities around the world, growing concerns about the erosion of civic and national identity, and fears that cultural recognition can permit illiberal practices, many academics and practitioners have sought to distance themselves from the idea that it is a role of the state to afford special treatment to cultural minorities, and have sought once again to emphasise those common bonds which unite citizens of liberal democratic states, rather than those cultural identities which may serve to divide them. This article evaluates some of the recent philosophical literature on multiculturalism against the changing political landscape in Britain and Europe and suggests that the multiculturalist position remains weakened by a number of crucial ambiguities.