×Toggle helper textThis website uses cookies. By using our website and agreeing to our cookies policy, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with the. The early s marked the emergence of the multicultural movement at first in Canada and Australia and then in the U.S.A., U.K., Germany and elsewhere. Bhikhu Parekh argues for a pluralist perspective on cultural diversity. Writing from both within the liberal tradition and outside of it as a critic, he challenges what.

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Many accused the text of having no real world use, and only theory to back it up.

W e instinctively suspect attempts to homogenize a culture and impose a single identity on it, for we are acutely aware that every culture is internally plural and differentiated.

And even so far as political life is concerned, they need to be interpreted and defined in the light of the wider culture and the unique history and political circumstances of the community concerned. The commitment to the political community involves commitment to its continuing existence and well-being, and implies that one cares enough for it not to harm its interests and undermine its integrity.

Their criticisms need not arouse unease or provoke charges of disloyalty so long as their basic commitment to the community is not in doubt. It also assumed a culturally neutral and socially transcendental state, able to ensure political impartiality, and did not anticipate that a determined majority might culturally monopolise the state and use it to enforce a narrow vision of India.

The new second edition includes a substantial additional chapter addressing key issues. The political community therefore cannot expect its members to develop a sense of belonging to it unless it in turn belongs to them. Guided by such loyalty, they might criticise their form of government, institutions, policies, values, ethos and dominant self understanding in the strongest possible terms if they think that these harm its survival and well-being.

Rethinking Multiculturalism: Cultural Diversity and Political Theory

This undercuts the very basis of Afrocentrism, Eurocentrism, Indocentrism, Sinocentrism and other kinds of centrisms, all of which isolate the history of the culture concerned from that of others and credit its achievements to its own genius. Although members of these groups are in principle free to participate in its public life, they often stay away for fear of rejection and ridicule or out of a deep sense of alienation.


Parekh’s text was criticized from other cultural authors based on his opinions in the book. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. He was elected British Asian of the Year in and received the BBC’s award for special lifetime achievement in In it, Bhikhu Parekh shows that the Western tradition of political philosophy has very limited theoretical resources to cope with cultural diversity.

The latter need to find ways of reconciling the legitimate demands of unity and diversity, of achieving political unity without cultural uniformity, and cultivating among its citizens both a common sense of belonging and a willingness to respect and cherish deep cultural differences.

A lthough equal citizenship is essential to fostering a common sense of belonging, it is not enough. It is a matter of degree and could take such forms as a quiet concern for its well-being, deep attachment, affection, and intense love.

This important and much acclaimed book rapidly became a classic on first publication. This is why, although they might personally loathe some of their fellow-members or find their lifestyles, views and values unacceptable, rethinkung mutual commitment and concern as members of a shared community remain unaffected.

It creates and defines multiculturalism in the form of political theory as well as political practice in the modern era, being based on Parekh’s experience of Multiculturalism in British society as well as other areas around the world. Views Read Edit View history. M ulticultural societies in their current form are new to our age rethiniing throw up theoretical and political problems that have no parallel in history.

M isrecognition has both a cultural and a material basis. Since it grasps only some aspects of the immensely complex human existence and misses out too much of what gives value to life, liberalism, socialism or for that matter any other political doctrine cannot provide the sole basis of the good society. This does not mean that it has no powers of self-determination and inner impulses, but rather that it is porous and subject to external influences which it assimilates in its now autonomous ways.

Bhikhu Parekh, What is multiculturalism

This is a formidable theoretical and political task and no multicultural society has so far succeeded in tackling it. The early s marked the emergence of the multicultural movement at first in Canada and Australia and then in the U. There is little sign that we have even begun to grasp the enormity of the problem facing us, let alone explore ways of tackling it. It must, therefore, value and cherish them all equally and reflect this in its structure, policies, conduct of public affairs, self-understanding and self-definition.


The political theories, institutions, vocabulary, virtues and skill that we have developed in the course of consolidating and conducting the affairs of a culturally homogeneous state during the past three centuries are of limited help, and sometimes even a positive handicap, in dealing with multicultural societies. All it means is that no culture is wholly worthless, that it deserves at least some respect because of what it means to its members and the creative energy it displays, that no culture is perfect and has a right to impose itself on others, and that cultures are best changed from within.

Rethinking Multiculturalism: Cultural Diversity and Political Theory – Wikipedia

He was chair of the Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic. A Commitment to Cultural Pluralism”. A nd bhi,hu also ignores or marginalizes such other great values as human solidarity, community, a sense of rootedness, selflessness, deep and self-effacing humility and contentment.

Political doctrines are ways of structuring political life and do not offer a comprehensive philosophy of life.

From a multiculturalist perspective, no political doctrine or ideology can represent the full truth of human life. Now that these and other possibilities have multicuulturalism, we need to undertake a radical reconsideration of some of the constitutive principles of the Indian state, and find multicklturalism historically more sensitive and realistic way of evolving political unity out of the newly emergent forms of diversity.

He then discusses how it can be revised and what new conceptual tools are needed. Nor does it mean that all cultures are equally rich and deserve equal respect, that each of them is good for its members, or that they cannot be compared and critically assessed.