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Do you think multiculturalism has led to a decrease in social cohesion? (Essay Sample)


This essay argues that multiculturalism has resulted into the decline of social cohesion.There is sufficient literature supporting this assertion (Verkuyten, 2007;Grillo, 2007; Joppke, 2004). Scholars point to the waning public support for multiculturalism, the neutrality of states to the question of multiculturalism, and the adverse impact of multiculturalism in some places.


Do you think multiculturalism has led to a decrease in social cohesion? Why/ Why not?
Multiculturalism has been the subject of intense debate within the contemporary political framework. In-depth discussions often revolve around the success or failure of multiculturalism in relation to social cohesion. The heart of this discussion is aptly captured in British politics, where multiculturalism has failed. However, it is necessary to add that this position has been contested in academic circles.
Multiculturalism refers to cultural variety relating to the demographic composition of a given place. The term also entails the ideologies or policies that promote cultural diversity. Such ideologies may vary from country to country (Harper, 2011). Social cohesion, on the other hand, describes the bonds that keep people together, especially in the context of cultural diversity. Therefore, multiculturalism entails cultural diversity, whereas social cohesion is responsible for ensuring that there is unity among people from culturally diverse backgrounds.
Has multiculturalism led to a decrease in social cohesion? This essay will endeavor to answer this question by analyzing existing literature. However, there is sufficient literature suggesting that a multiculturalism has contributed to the decline of social cohesion. Verkuyten (2007) contends that the public support for multiculturalism in most western countries is at best moderate. Academic literature refers to this trend as the retreat of multiculturalism (Joppke, 2004). It has also been argued that most European countries, including Britain, were experiencing a backlash from multiculturalism (Grillo, 2007). In essence, this essay will argue that multiculturalism has led to a decrease in social cohesion.
The thesis of this essay states that the multiculturalism has led to the decline of social cohesion among culturally diverse populations.
Multiculturalism and social cohesion
There exists a lot of literature to conclusively suggest that multiculturalism has led to the decline of social cohesion. First, it is important to understand the concept of multiculturalism. The term is used in two ways, either descriptively or normatively. Descriptively, it refers to cultural diversity under a legal and political framework. Normatively, multiculturalism constitutes the ideologies that promote cultural diversity. Social cohesion, on the other hand, refers to the bonds that bring people from different cultural backgrounds together. Therefore, multiculturalism has a direct impact on social cohesion.
To begin with, there has been a backlash from cultural differences in most European countries, including Britain. Multiple occurrences in such countries have demonstrated this trend. These include the emergence of right-wing nationalist parties, such as the BNP. Such parties regularly threaten the social and political stability of nations. This is because they take extreme positions on most issues affecting the countries. The increase in the stringency of immigration rules in most European countries also attests to the fact that multiculturalism is exerting tension in those countries. Moreover, the introduction of citizen tests and ceremonies demonstrate the declining social cohesion in these countries.
The decline in social cohesion is also reflected in the waning of public support for multiculturalism in western countries (Verkuyten, 2007). This suggests that there has been a retreat in multiculturalism, a condition that some scholars refer to as the death of multiculturalism (Kundnani, 2002). Since social cohesion is the bond that keeps people together, a decline in public support for multiculturalism means that people no longer have a sense of belonging, especially in a multi-ethnic context.
Hall (2000) brings the multicultural subject to the fore: "How then can the particular and the universal, the claims of both difference and equality, be recognized?" (p. 235). Hall seems to be implying that the increasing diversity within national societies and the need to accommodate different cultural groups pose serious challenges to the concept of equality. This is especially the case for politics where it is not clear where cultural differences ought to be taken into consideration or not. In most cases, majority cultural groups dominate politics of most countries, at the expense of minorities. This is because there is no equality in politics when it relates to cultural diversity. This suggests that the multiculturalism in many countries has not necessarily enhanced social cohesion.
Another point of criticism is the neutrality of the state in the context of multiculturalism. The neutrality of the state suggests that there is equality among the citizens. However, this is not usually the case because it leads to the oppression of historically excluded groups. This is evident in many nations where there is a lot of tensions or civil strife as the oppressed groups attempt to rise and make their presence be felt.
Multiculturalism as a policy has also essentialized culture and reifying cultural difference. This can potentially lead to adverse outcomes. According to Benhabib (2002), multiculturalism may lead to the exclusion and reinforcement of cultural activities and fundamentalist identities rather than innovation and exchange. Moreover, multiculturalism means that people are placed in rigid identities which deny them the right to construct their identities, especially in a highly dynamic world. This has a negative impact on social cohesion.
Additionally, multiculturalism ideologies may conceal some types of social inequalities among many people. An example of this is economic inequality. Economic inequality may not come out clearly in the wake of multiculturalism policies. Feminist scholars have also argued that multiculturalism leads to the adoption and coping with cultural practices that undermine women’s rights (Phillips, 2007). It may, therefore, be necessary to shift to new models of multiculturalism that take into account different aspects of human existence.
In Australia, multiculturalism is in the shadows. This is because there has been a deliberate attempt by the country to get out of the shadow of multiculturalism. It is worth noting that the composition of Australian population has more that 25% of the people born outside the country. Consequently, such a country would be expected to be on the forefront in initiating and sticking to the ideals of multiculturalism. However, this is not the case since the administration deliberately attempts to downplay multiculturalism in its practices. The country still has in place various programs that denote multiculturalism, but the government often downplays them. This is a clear indication that the multiculturalism may have had a decreasing effect of social cohesion in Australia.
The misleading model is perhaps the most substantial criticism to multiculturalism. In this model, multiculturalism assumes a celebratory mode for ethnocultural diversity (Kymlicka, 2012). However, the celebratory model is rife with many loopholes. First, it ignores economic and political inequality. This is potentially dangerous because when people live together and feel they are at a deliberate disadvantage, economically and politically speaking, they are likely to foment an uprising. This has happened in many countries, a good example being the Arab Spring. Secondly, the celebration of authentic cultural practices that are unique to each cultural group is equally dangerous. This is because there are some customs and practices of some cultural groups that are not worth a celebration. Such practices include early marriages, forced marriages, female genital mutilation among others. These would greatly hamper social cohesion if they are allowed to continue without restrictions.
Nevertheless, there is no disputing the fact that multiculturalism has positively contributed to social cohesion. Multiculturalism is responsible for advancing equality and social acceptance among people. This has seen many countries operate harmoniously despite h...
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