Critically compare two
alternative theoretical approaches to social and cultural diversity and bring
examples of their manifestations in everyday life and policy implementation
Alexander Paul Burton – w1622018
When choosing the topic
for this essay and deciding how best to critically compare two alternative
critical theories many ideas were considered from the rich range of examples
pertaining to social diversity in countless countries around the world.
In our own class during
the Semester, many people time and time again brought up Canada as a shining
example of a nation that has fully embraced and adhered to all of the
principles of Multiculturalism. Indeed, this is backed up by Kylmlicka (2012)
in his outline of research that found that Vietnamese immigrants were far more
successfully settled generally and politically in Canada than to those in
Boston, the United States of America.
However, instead of
lauding the successes of Canadas’s adoption of multiculturalism from the 1970s
to this very day and comparing it to another “less successful” adoption in
another country, this essay will consider the following:
1) First how multiculturalism
developed was adopted in Canada and the theory behind multiculturalism and;
2) Second, then compare this
to multiculturalism in Québec (a province of Canada) which adopts
“interculturalism” over multiculturalism.
By comparing different
outlooks on social diversity within a single country, it is hoped, will provide
a somewhat insightful and interesting comparison.
Canada, due to its rich
history, has an interesting societal makeup. First inhabited by humans
thousands of years ago with a rich inuit and First Nations culture that
flourished up until European explorers arrived in the early 1500s which has now
developed into a multicultural melting pot of British, French, European and
countless cultures from around the world.
From the 1500s onwards,
large parts of Canada and the United States were known as “New France” – an autonomous
colony that, albeit very small in population, still had all of the trappings of
what would be considered a “country” by today’s standards. For example, they
had their own currency, Royal Ensign (from the French monarchy) and more.
The legacy of French
influence including language and even a separate distinct legal system dominates
Canada to this day. In the early 1900s, the British unified Canadian North
America as the French were forced to relinquish all claims and ownership of
almost all large in Upper and Lower Canada.
This led to the creation
of what is now known as Québec, a province with distinct language and other
cultural features. Quebec sits within a federation of other provinces that are
largely solely English speaking (apart from parts of Ontario and other
However, even though
French culture, including Language and laws, which has existed in North America
for over 400 years, still didn’t have protection under law or was recognised as
an official language until a Royal Commission report was mandated in the 1970s
by Pierre Trudeau (Prime Minister).
It is hoped that this
short overview of the difference between Québec and other provinces of Canada
will allow different models of social diversity to be compared in this essay.
Part one: Multiculturalism in Canada and Federal
Multiculturalism as a
concept differs from other ideas about social and cultural diversity such as
theories of assimilation (which it is assumed leads to integration), promoting
equality (that difference doesn’t have a place in a unified society) and very liberal
multiculturalism where rights are extended to specific cultural or ethnic
groups (such as relaxing laws or sentences due to inherent traits and ideas
that mean that the group cannot be blamed for breaking laws).
A policy of
multiculturalism was officially adopted in Canada after the 1970s under Prime
Minister Pierre Trudeau after the publication of the Royal Commission on
Bilingualism and Biculturalism which, while primarily focussed upon Québec and
English speaking Canadians, opened up dialogue surrounding multiculturalism.
This is significant due to
the fact that Canada, as explained in the first section above, has a rich
history and has been a place where many different cultures have combined. By
multiculturalism being accepted by the state, differences are seen as a
“resource” and people throughout Canada, especially the Quebecois, have their
French and First Nations language protected.
Canada then passed the
following legislation and government policy (Weinstock, 2013) which has
contributed to its current state of a Canadian “brand” of multiculturalism:
1. The Canadian
Multiculturalism Act that was passed in 1988 that aimed to preserve and protect
multiculturalism in Canada
2. The Charter of Rights and
Freedoms, passed in 1982, which didn’t overtly protect multiculturalism but did
bring claims from citizens against some of the homogeneity in previous
3. Anti-discrimination and
is therefore, according to Weinstock, a set of policies and more of a
standpoint rather than a political outlook and according to all indicators
Canada has done a good job at implementing it (this is explored in the latter
part of this section).
By recognising other
cultures other than the dominant “British” or “English” culture in Canada,
multiculturalism developed and Canada began to see waves of migration and
acceptance of other cultures.
Benhabib (2002) in his
work Claims of Culture argues for
reworking deliberative democracy and, in many respects, this has been
successful in Canada as explained in the very first section. In which Kymlicka
(2012) gave the example of Vietnamese immigrants settling in to politics and
being accepted in politics largely due to the fact that Canadians, generally,
don’t discriminate candidates based upon their race, religion etc.
Interestingly, there are
multiple examples of newspaper articles that give their opinion on why Canadian
multiculturism is a success – for example, articles in the Huffington Post
(2016), Toronto Star (Siddiqui, 2007) lauding the success of the government
policy. Government articles back this up, too (Jetelina, 2014) further
demonstrating strong consensus on the success of multiculturalism in Canada.
The above articles really
demonstrate and back up Bikhu Parekh’s (2011) opinion that multiculturalism is
a relationship and promotes equality and fairness. To Parekh, multiculturalism
is about the equality of cultures and the relationship between them that is
proper. So, cultures don’t adhere to one other cultures principle of justice,
for example, but come up with new justice through open dialogue. This is
reflected strongly in Canada’s governmental policy surrounding
However, critics of this
would call this state-controlled or
initiated multiculturalism as “minoritization” due to the fact that, in the
case of Canada, the culture of the other (i.e., immigrants, First Nations,
French Quebecois) is defined by western national culture (in this case, British
This is especially true
when we consider how the government views First Nations and Quebec as the state
felt the need to control (albeit in a positive way!) the official language and
protect it. Thus, showing minoritization through the protection, administration
and controlling of that particular social group’s language and culture.
In Homi Bhabha’s (2006)
point of view this is what is known as state multiculturalism as the government
has clearly marked out subject cultures (Québec, etc) and therefore the “other”
is known and visible. We can therefore see the differences clearly between
those who are naturalised Canadians and those who are not. Or, those who are
French Canadian and those who are English speaking Canadians.
Bhabba (2006) instead
purports that we should consider social diversity in the context of people or
groups having cultural differences and not as the culture being diverse. This
cultural diversity can then open up a third space which can then lead to hybrid
understandings. This echoes Parekh’s view of multiculturalism in some respects
as he too viewed multiculturalism as promoting a fair relationship with shared
understandings that could promote justice.
The case of Canada in
general does reflect Parekh’s view of multiculturalism and is certainly backed
up by various media sources giving opinions & Kymlicka’s overview of
research showing that Canada is a success story. However, Bhabba’s theory puts
government policy in Canada in a different perspective and allows us to see
that they are essentially promoting state multiculturalism and the creation of
the clear and distinct “Other”.
Part two: Interculturalism and the Province of Québec
When researching this
essay, it would have been fantastic to be able to laud the success of Canada as
a whole, unified country and give shining examples about the success of
multiculturalism. However, as with any piece of work, there was a need to give
a true reflection of this country.
Interestingly in Quebec,
multiculturalism, it has been purported (Weinstock, 2013) has been rejected (indeed,
Chiasson and Howes, 2012, say that all governments in Quebec have rejected
multiculturalism) and is viewed in a unique way. Weinstock explains that a key
thinker in this debate is Gerard Bouchard who along with a colleague co-chaired
a commission which investigated the accommodation of multiculturalism in
The commission issued a
report that explained that due to the political and historical differences in
Quebec, it had indeed developed a very different style of immigrant
integration. The report sought to also distinguish the difference between
Multiculturalism in Canada generally and Interculturalism, a prominent answer
to multiculturalism in Quebec.
There is no official
policy of Interculturalism in Quebec (Chiasson & Howes, 2012) according the
reports, but instead we can understand interculturalism in Quebec as being
distinguished from official documents and scholarly thinking. Chiasson and
Howes explain that central to the idea of interculturalism is the idea of a
reciprocal agreement between the
Quebecois (NB, not defined as French Quebecois) and “cultural” communities.
in this case, immigration is the concern of both the host society and its own
collective will to welcome immigrants in to it and, in response, the will of
immigrants to want to integrate in to the frabric of Quebec society and also to
adhere to sets of values promoted by the Ministère de l’Immigration et des
Communautés Culturelles (MICC). Therefore, in this view, Quebecois
interculturalism makes demands of both the immigrants and also the provincial
to Chiasson and Howes, interculturalism is essentially cultural pluralism
meaning that the Quebec government must promote positive values towards the
immigrant community and “valorise” different cultures. The government
officially also recognises cultural exchange between the host and migrant
cultures as the diversity is seen as a source of enrichment. In their view,
interculturalism promotes the idea that it is both up to the Quebecois and the
immigrants to create successful integration.
summary, their view is that interculturalism is a criticism of the cultural
mosaic or salad that is commonly put forward by the Canadian government.
Chiasson and Hoews explain that interculturalism as an idea is based upon “la
tradition de la démocratie parlementaire … misant sur la représentation et la
délibération.” (The tradition of parliamentary democracy placed within
representation and deliberation) and helps promote new ideas, enrichment and
positive cultural exchange of cultural values.
in their work, Chiasson and Howes explain the following drawbacks and
criticisms of interculturalism as an answer to multiculturalism in Canada:
1. Interculturalism is not
really so different from Multiculturalism as it still promotes the idea that
diversity should be promoted and promoted and that common values should be
2. It is not anchored
properly in the provincial Quebec government legal system
3. That interculturalism
promotes bias as the onus to integrate or to reciprocate in the relationship is
placed upon the migrants. If they do not choose to integrate, then they are in
the wrong and have no partaken in efforts to integrate.
explain that there are not enough pieces of work that research interculturalism
properly as it has not been around as long as Multiculturalism in Canada, and
therefore there are many more criticisms of it in Canada. They explain that
scholars in Quebec are quick to denigrate and criticism Multiculturalism but
that there is still a sharp divide between the two schools of thought.
criticisms of and evidence backing up the move towards interculturalism in
Quebec come from the government departments themselves. There is a clear
governmental bias towards interculturalism with findings showing that from the
1980s, people who had lived in Quebec and settled as migrants still were not
integrated in their “host” society (Carr, 2010).
findings show that interculturalism in Quebec is strongly favoured even though
it is a relatively youthful and developing alternative to multiculturalism as a
policy (or set of). There is strong preference within government even if it is
not enshrined in provincial law, however, future research would be interesting
and might show how successful or not intercultural policies are in integrating
new migrants in to the host culture.
the surface, Canada is a great example of a country that successfully
integrates migrants, or, rather, accommodates difference and officially on a
federal level promotes the idea of the “salad bowl” approach to social
historical differences between provinces mean that even within a country there
are differing and competing claims to the correct way of integrating migrants.
In Quebec, the migrant’s social diversity is seen as a positive thing but only
if the migrant enters in to a transaction and agrees to meet certain criteria
that the internal ministry set.
scholars believe that multiculturalism and interculturalism in Canada are
actually almost identical. This remains to be seen and it would be interesting
to see how interculturalism develops in future years, seeing as
multiculturalism has had such a long time to develop and integrate on a federal
and provincial level.
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