Multiculturalism as lived experience enriches our lives. But multiculturalism as a political ideology has helped create a tribal Britain with no political or moral centre. (Kenan Malik, The Times ,16th. July, 2005). Discuss.
More and more people “live in an environment that transcends national borders” and there is a very apparent “growing international environment” (Milich and Peck, 1998, pg vii). On an international scale, as well as in Britain, there has been an increase in immigration. Modern communication devices such as the telephone or internet have allowed people to continue practicing multiculturalism and maintain a sense of identity through their roots. Multiculturalism is a political doctrine or ideology which “stresses the importance of cultural belonging and legitimises the desire to maintain difference” (Bhargava, Bagchi and Sudarshan, 1999, pg 1).
Multiculturalism is a very current issue in Britain today with an ever increasing migrant population. Some of the British public, analytic philosophers and fundamentalists view it as an attack on “national interest or doctrinal purity”. These beliefs are held for a variety of reasons, some feel their way of life or their culture is superior to others. However some feel a need to protect ‘British-ness’ and do not want it ‘diluted’ with other cultures (Goldberg, 1994, pg 381). Multiculturalism seems threatening for people who want a homogeneous society (Milich and Peck, 1998, page xii). This essay attempts to explore the dangers of multiculturalism, if any, and rationally analyse these arguments.
One of the main arguments presented opposing multiculturalism, is that nowadays, “identification with locality, tribe, family or religion” are trampled as “new social and cultural relations exist” (Baldwin, Longhurst, McCracken, Ogborn and Smith, 2000, pg 158). Indeed in Britain today there is a sense that national identity has been lost due to an influx of immigrants. However “identity [is] not simply based on country of origin” and it is “dependant on relationships with others and a sense of location” (Bhabha, 1994, pg 185). It is argued that the claim - loss of British national identity - is false and the concept of identity itself is now in debate.
According to Goldberg, (1994, pg 381) “identity is a reflexive relation, a relation of myself to myself, but it can be a mediated relation: I relate myself through my interaction with others and with the world”. He goes on to argue that “individuals don’t find their identity in cultural identification alone” and that culture is merely a component of identity. Individuals therefore are able to let national identity determine their own identity to the extent they want as it is something relative to the individual.
Hall (1992) developed three concepts of identity. The first, Enlightenment, is where an individual’s identity unfolds around them during their life and is therefore prevalent since birth. The second, Sociological, is where identity is formed in relation to other people/the individual’s society and therefore identity is something which changes over time. The third concept of identity is Post-modern. This is the view that individuals do not have a sense of fixed identity. Identity in society nowadays has become ‘dislocated’ (Baldwin et al., 2000, pg 348).
Anderson (2001) argued that there are “imagined communities” and that the sense of a country and a culture going hand in hand was no longer true. He maintained that geographical boundaries do not separate the different ways of life between people. If this were true then the idea of sub-cultures would be rejected, whilst ignoring the problem of “internal social divisions” within communities. According to Anderson, national identity is as much built on the “exclusion of people who do not fit and the drawing of boundaries, as on the imagining of a community and the territory where they can live together” (Baldwin et al., 2000, pg 159)....
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