Re: What is multiculturalism

Mike Ivanovich (
Wed, 02 Aug 1995 08:30:43 -0700

In article <3vmhus$>, (Richard
Spear) wrote:

> (Mike Ivanovich) wrote:
> >I need a working definition for "multiculturalism" and the dictionaries
> >that I have at home are not very helpful. Has anyone run across a
> >definition for multiculuralism, or a "multiculturalist society" lately?
> >Is a multiculturalist society different from a society that consists of
> >many subcultures, such as in the U.S.?
> Mike - that's an interesting question. I haven't run across a working
> definition for multiculturalism (perhaps someone else has?) but when I
> hear or see the term I *do* think that it is different from current
> American patterns.
> The thrust of the term infers that there is acceptance of and respect
> for the continuance of other cultures in American society. This is
> distinctly different from the "melting pot" goals of the turn of the
> century and it seems to acknowledge the contributions that other
> cultures can make via their diversity. There are links here to TQ
> philosophies and Team concepts (for those familiar with organizational
> cultures).
> Richard

Richard -- thanks for your reply, but it brings up a question regarding
the continuance of other cultures. Could one argue that we have forced
assimilation of, what I would call subcultures, to mainstream culture in
the U.S.? Or is the evolution (or devolution, depending on circunstances)
more like entropy... that there is a passive, natural degradation of
cultural distinctions? The former is analagous to forcing Native
Americans onto reservations; the latter is analagous to absorption of
immigrants, ie., the melting pot. In considering TQ philosophies (which I
believe would emphasize the benefits of "hybrid vigor," should then a
country institutionalize the preservation of subcultures, or allow them to
breathe but seek to retain certain aspects of them? This seems artifical
to me -- like managed ecosystems -- too complicated to comprehend all the
subtle relationships; yet so many are visible or measureable that we can't
help but think we understand them enough to manage the whole thing.

Fascinating. This is why our debate is running (fiercely, but friendly).

Thanks again.

Mike I.

Mike Ivanovich, Senior Research Scientist, PNL
Box 999 K7-22, Richland, WA 99352
phone: (509) 375-4584 fax: (509) 375-3641