Multiculturalism Essay

1088 words - 4 pages

There are different views and definition of multiculturalism; the definition of multiculturalism depends on the context in which it is used. In sociology, multiculturalism is the idea that various cultures exist in a society and all these cultures deserve equal treatment (Macionis, 2010). Sociologists believe that members of different cultures can live peacefully alongside each other and assimilation is not necessary. This essay will focus on both the positive aspects and the main tensions that arise in a multicultural society.

Britain today has many people with different ethnic backgrounds from various countries. The history of multiculturalism began during the times of British colonialism. Britain once had the largest and most extensive imperial holdings in all of Europe, colonizing about 25% of the globe at the peak of its power in the 1920s (Piper, 2007). Some of Britain’s most prominent colonies were in Africa and India, which were primarily for the purpose of resource extraction. Many of these countries fought long and hard to become self-governing which led to the process of decolonization. Decolonization refers to the process by which Britain and other European countries lost their colonies; this process was either through violent armed resistance or peaceful political protests. India was the first country to gain independence in 1947 followed by a number of African and Caribbean countries in the 1960s.

Although there have been Africans in Britain since the Roman times, their number remained few until the beginning of decolonization: after World War II, many African officers working for the British army settled permanently in Britain where they had been stationed and Britain also began trying to attract people from the Caribbean to work as cheap labor (Piper, 2007). The first group of immigrants, who started the process of multiculturalism, arrived in Britain on the Empire Windrush in 1948. Most of these immigrants were from the Caribbean and did not intend to stay in Britain for more than a few years, but eventually did.

The diversity of cultures has played a significant role in shaping the cultural landscape. When people live together in a community, communication is unavoidable and communication involves sharing ideas and perspectives, creating a body of collectively acceptable principles and policies, therefore, leading to a more innovative, creative and prosperous society. According to professor Bhikhu Parekh (2006), multiculturalism is “about intercultural fusion in which a culture borrows bits of others and creatively transforms both itself and them". One culture might be influenced by the beliefs and practices of another, so they borrow what they find valuable and enrich and broaden it, and this helps to build common bonds between the two cultures. The various skills or ideas obtained from another group can be used in various...

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