Will Kymlicka: Neo-liberal Multiculturalism?

Ethnic identities and ethnic differentiations are an enduring feature of modern societies, despite the predictions of 1950s modernization theory. Ethnicity remains an important (although by no means the only) basis of personal identity, informal networks, social status, cultural meanings, and political mobilization. Indeed, far from disappearing as a result of modernization, sociologists talk about the “ethnic revival” in the contemporary world(Smith 1981). Ethnicity seems to flourish in an era of civil rights, non-discrimination,democratic freedoms, and global communications and mobility. For many minorities in the past, their ethnic identity was a source of stigma and disadvantage to be denied or hidden. But in our post-colonial and post-civil rights era, the racialist and supremacist ideologies that stigmatized minorities have been delegitimized, and democratic freedom and global networks facilitate ethnic self-organization and mobilization. The result has been a flourishing of ethnic projects, including the struggle of indigenous peoples such asthe Maya or Inuit for land and self-government; the demands of substate nationalminorities such as the Welsh or Catalans for language rights and regional autonomy, or the demands of immigrant groups such as the Indian and Chinese diaspora for multicultural accommodations.

Read the full paper here.

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