Before defining the concept of multiculturalism, it is necessary to mention another culture system, American melting pot: "melting pot" means that each individual immigrant and immigrant group, regardless of Where are they come from, they will integrate into the American society with their own pace and constantly improve their standard of living and social status. "Melting pot," does not need to have a thorough understanding of American history, not need to have complex cultural traditions, or no accent. It allows that individuals are interested in their own cultures in the past and allows that there is a contact between their families. But in fact, the bonds and the cultures will disappear in two generations later, surviving only culinary culture and traditional festivals. Multiculturalism is different from the American melting pot. It is not integrated various cultures into one and do not require people to accept the values. Multiculturalism is a system of cultures and behaviours that accepts and respects all the separate groups or individuals in an organization or society. It recognizes and pays attention to the importance of their social and cultural differences. It also allows and encourages them to continue their contribution in an inclusive cultural organization or society (Rosado, 1997).
There are three main sections in this definition and they will be explained and discussed in details in this paragraph. The first is the acceptance and respect of diverse culture in given society or an organization. It is just like the physically disabled and women as a member of society should be recognized and respected. Society should safeguard the integrity, dignity, value and social worth of the individuals or groups from diverse culture. Secondly, multiculturalism should recognize that the cultural contributions and expressions of the separate groups and also their importance. This does not mean that all cultural contribution has equal social value or people should tolerate all of the cultures. There are some cultures are really more advantageous to society than others. However, every culture has its own way to prove their value. And these artistic contributions are different from the dominant group in society. They usually only create value when there is a stage for them. For instance, music for South American, native Spanish dances for tourism or Mexican cuisine. Finally, multiculturalism should also encourage and allow the various groups to make a benefit for an organization or society. For instance, women and people of colour often meet with setbacks because of their gender or skin color. However, who knows from where who is the next Albert Einstein, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs maybe an old man, a young girl, a gay, an African or a person who drop out of high school (Rosado, 1997).
What are the effects of multiculturalism on 21st century society? One of the advantageous influences that multiculturalism has brought to the society is the diversity in living style. With the rapid globalization, many people have more choices to enjoy them when they are surrounded by fashionable elements. For example, celebrating Spring Festival in local city, having fun with distant friends in the pub and eating Mexican cuisine or Thai food for lunch, the things which were in the various regions have been together. People are able to learn more cultures which they want to know and there are more living styles that they can choose. There is no denying that multiculturalism resulted in the mutual understanding of cross-cultural communication and it, in turn, spreads distinctive national cultures and histories. Another attractive effect, multiculturalism born with, is that it is conducive to inventions and also can inspire each other in the society which has a variety of distinct ethnic groups. For instance, in the UK, college and graduate school a collection of the best students from around the world is really good at technological innovation. Moreover, each nation has its own areas of expertise, such as the Irish people like politics, Jews specialize in business, Chinese are good at research and German is leader in machine manufacturing, while the Swiss specialize in precision manufacturing. In a multiethnic society, people can do the work which they are good at. It really has a lot of benefits for economic development.
There are also a few harmful effects. For example, in July 2005, London experienced a series of terrorist attacks. The subway and Metro bus was boomed and a lot of people were injured. Furthermore, just a few months ago, an active-duty soldier was killed by two Islamists on the street and the witnesses said that the two attackers dragged the man to the middle of the road, then waving machetes and let passers taking photos. Owing to the attacks happened in last ten years in the UK, many people and political conservatives believe that it is time to rethink multiculturalism (Parekh, 2006). Even some people said bluntly that multiculturalism has caused the British society in danger. Some contradictions between ethnic groups appear in the society. "Young white people are cautioned that black men are all criminals. Young Afro-Caribbean people know that Asian shopkeepers always rip your money off. Muslim youth learned that English plan to destroy Islam" said by Cameron, British prime minister. The best way to ignore such words is a virtuous education. We are sure that people are learning English, and we've got to make sure that children learn the correct British history at school (Cameron, 2007). In some way, multiculturalism has failed. There are three aspects of it which are not successful for the UK in the 21st century. Firstly, multiculturalism promotes exclusion rather than harmony. People from different culture just live in their communities. The second is that although multicultural let a limited groups retain their cultures, behaviors and values. It hinders the contact between them and the whole society (Heath, 2012). Finally, the multiculturalism in the UK pays too little or no attention to white natives (Manning, 2011).
Is multiculturalism apposite for the 21st Century Society in the UK? Despite the fact that multiculturalism is not a perfect system and has many disadvantages, it also makes plenty of benefits for the UK. The immigrants who are sociopathic or harmful are a very small part of society and such people exist in any society. In fact, walking in the street, the sound everywhere is authentic British Chamber, from the mouth of blacks or of Indians. Most of them abandoned part of their culture, for example, they do not speak their language and eat fish chips or potatoes every day, and work with the indigenous people for a living. Have they already become a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain? Multiculturalism has already created a sense of belonging among minorities (Manning, 2011). As British fans fill those Olympic seats and cheer Team GB. It matters not whether those athletes are first generation, second generation, mixed race, or white. People support every one of them with pride and each athlete is equally proud to carry the union flag and sing the national anthem as any of their team-mates. For instance, 2012 Olympics ceremonies told the world, British have a contemporary history - an inclusive one - which they are proud of (Heath, 2012). Maybe it could say that Britain is in fact a rather thriving multicultural society.
To sum up, multiculturalism is a system that has a lot of benefits for society in the UK in the 21st century. For example, it brings diversity to people's living style, improves the efficiency of society progress and creates a sense of belonging among minorities. However, multiculturalism also makes some problems, such as promoting exclusion rather than harmony, hindering the contact between dissimilar society groups and paying too little attention to white natives. Overall, multiculturalism is beneficial for society in the UK, despite the fact that it also has some disadvantages in last ten years. In the future, it will be continuously improved and more apposite for society.
List of reference
Heath, A. (2012) ‘Has multiculturalism failed in the UK? Not really’ the Guardian
Manning, A. (2011) 'The evidence shows that multiculturalism in the UK has succeeded in fostering a sense of belonging among minorities, but it has paid too little attention to how to sustain support among parts of the white population' British Politics and Policy at LSE [online] available from http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/2011/04/14/multiculturalism-immigration-support-white-population/ [12 August 2013]
Parekh, B. (2006) Rethinking Multiculturalism Cultural Diversity and Political Theory. 2nd edn. New York: Martin’s Press
Rosado, C. (1997) Toward a Definition of Multiculturalism [online] available from http://rosado.net/pdf/Def_of_Multiculturalism.pdf [12 August 2013]