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United in Diversity?

On Cultural Diversity, Democracy and Human Rights

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Eduardo J. Ruiz Vieytez

We live in increasingly diverse societies. Human relations are increasingly maintained by widely-used virtual means, with the result that it is becoming more common to find people with various identities and feelings of belonging living in the same political space.
Identity, linguistic, religious and/or cultural diversity are not new phenomena in our societies, but recent population movements and improved communications make them more visible and crucial than before. Unfortunately, our institutional and political structures have not evolved at the same pace, thus the appropriate management of diversity has become one of the greatest challenges faced by policymakers today in European democratic societies.
Unlike traditional notions of democracy, which tend to see it simply as majority rule, it is necessary to widen the way human rights are viewed and implemented, always bearing in mind the plural nature of today’s societies. This implies the need to rethink deeply-rooted concepts and attitudes that we have not been in the habit of challenging before. This essay aims to be a guide to facilitate such reflections.
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Chapter I: Diversity, Diversities and Identity

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Chapter I

Diversity, Diversities and Identity

1.  Immigration Policies or Diversity Policies?

This book is not about immigration. It does however aim to reflect on some of its possible consequences, specifically on cultural and identitarian diversity. Nevertheless, immigration is an excellent rallying call with which to start our reflections. Not in vain is it the phenomenon which we instinctively use to link the concepts of diversity, multiculturalism and interculturalism that are of interest to us here. This is certainly due to the fact that, in recent years, some European societies have experienced very intense immigration processes that were previously unknown. In other European countries, the immigration flow started decades ago but continues to be a highly contemporary phenomenon. Logically, economic crises affect the intensity of migrations to Europe and North America, but it is fairly clear that population movements from the Southern Hemisphere will continue even when the European and North American economies start growing again, meaning that the phenomenon of immigration and its consequences will continue to be of prime social and political interest.

I will start by making it clear that we are talking about European-Western type societies, these being economically developed, politically democratic countries that are part of the vague idea we call western civilisation. The same or similar parameters could be used to talk about Australia, Canada and New Zealand but, in essence, I will be considering Western European societies. So I will briefly analyse what we understand...

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