Engaging Cultural Differences: The Multicultural Challenge in Liberal Democracies
Russell Sage Foundation, Jun 27, 2002 - Social Science - 485 pages
"Liberal democracies are based on principles of inclusion and tolerance. But how does the principle of tolerance work in practice in countries such as Germany, France, India, South Africa, and the United States, where an increasingly wide range of cultural groups holds often contradictory beliefs about appropriate social and family life practices? As these democracies expand to include peoples of vastly different cultural backgrounds, the limits of tolerance are being tested as never before. Engaging Cultural Differences explores how liberal democracies respond legally to differences in the cultural and religious practices of their minority groups. The contributors -- an interdisciplinary group of legal scholars, anthropologists, psychologists, and political theorists -- explore several interrelated questions: Does the law in these countries presuppose and codify the beliefs and values of the cultural mainstream? To what extent does the law affect the customs of ethnic minority groups, and how do these groups react to official attempts to force compliance with the dominant norms? How much cultural diversity in family practices ought to be permissible within the framework of a pluralistic, democratic society? Some of the practices addressed include ethnic traditions about selecting marital partners, parent-child relationships, religiously based clothing requirements for women, genital alteration, and religion and schooling. Building on such examples, the contributors examine the role of tolerance in practical encounters between state officials and immigrants, and between members of longstanding majority groups and increasing numbers of minority groups. The volume also considers the theoretical implications of expanding the realm of tolerance. Some contributors are reluctant to broaden the scope of tolerance, while others insist that the notion of 'tolerance'" is itself potentially confining and demeaning and that modern nations should aspire to celebrate cultural differences. Coming to terms with ethnic diversity and cultural differences has become a major public policy concern in contemporary liberal democracies, as they struggle to adjust to burgeoning immigrant populations. Engaging Cultural Differences provides a compelling examination of the challenges of multiculturalism and reveals a deep understanding of the challenges democracies face as they seek to accommodate their citizens' diverse beliefs and practices"--Unedited summary from book jacket.
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