Essay about national identity and multiculturalism

But, all states should aim at ensuring that its national identity is preserved and not threatened by immigrants, rather is being inclusive for them. One of the best ways to achieve such equation is through the creation of a sense of common belonging between citizens. Such a process is double sided; it requires the efforts of both the immigrants from one side and the state along with the wider society form another side.

Both should aim at fulfilling its duties so that its rights can be met by the other side. Since immigrants settled willingly in the host society, they are expected to be loyal and to abide by the laws and rules of this society, especially that it is the rights of the nationals to act upon the preservation of their own society where they lived their whole lives, offering sacrifices for maintaining its well being.

Consequently, immigrants must prove they are loyal to the society, showing all signs of good faith. This comes in different forms; respecting the constitution and laws, being productive workers to add economic value, interacting socially and politically with the wider society…etc. This will make the immigrants an inseparable necessary component within the host society being active loyal citizens. But still this does not require them breaking ties with their original homelands, but they just are expected to be committed to the well being of the host society.

The state and the wider society on the other hand should be meeting the other side of the equation by helping the immigrants to integrate, taking all the measures that can help in this. The state needs to work on different levels to fulfill this role:. The state needs to address the exclusion problems that face the immigrants who get discriminated against in many spheres of life especially economically and socially.

But, if the state did not respond to discrimination taking place, the immigrants will feel inferior and more alienated which make them easily attracted by terrorist organizations. The state needs to adopt policies that help the immigrants get over any disadvantages they face due to their transitional positions as we stated earlier language classes, citizenship classes, equal employment opportunities…etc. Such policies may be accused of being discriminatory, but actually they are not since the immigrants are usually the least advantaged category in any society.

The state also shall make changes to the educational system so as to be more multicultural. This will help in creating attachments and a sense of belonging between the students and the citizens afterwards by fostering values such as tolerance, mutual respect and understanding, respect for diversity…etc. These values are necessary in such multinational societies as it ensures that each community preserves its national culture and identity but still all communities will be sharing one common civic identity that tighten the relations between them for the good of the society.

This shall be leading to active citizens who are both responsible and productive. Such multicultural education will be teaching the students about the relationship with The other. They may include histories about how these minorities contributed to the host society or mentioning their major historical events and national holidays. All this shall be implemented in a multicultural educational atmosphere where the administrators and teachers are all committed to promoting diversity and protecting the cultures of the students while fostering a common sense of identity.

Also, the civil society does play a role in bringing together different communities together in shared activities and interests to increase their sense of having a civic common identity which transcends the ethnic and national differences, while everyone is still retaining its own national identity and culture.

These are the efforts and roles that need to be pursued by the state, the immigrants and the civil society.


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It makes them integrated without being alienated or discriminated against. We find at the end by looking at different multicultural societies how all the communities are cooperating together having many shred interests and feeling a common sense of loyalty to the society, while at the same time they all feel both equal and different. This is the equation that need to be maintained; to assure that the national identity of the state of the host society is preserved while being inclusive to other different national communities through an over arching civic identity.

These efforts sometimes are criticized by being discriminatory to nationals in favor of immigrants — as stated earlier- but it is not, it just an engine for affirmative actions since the disadvantages faced by immigrants are much more than other citizens face. Also, some analysts think that such efforts are repressive imposing obligatory civic integration from above on the whole society.

An important mechanism that can be a safe guard that integration is not imposed rather is a natural flow of interaction between the different communities is through encouraging dialogues between these communities with their different cultural backgrounds both through their representatives and between normal citizens as well. This dialogue it will help them understands one another culture and creating more common grounds between them.

Canada has many different kinds of landscape. A lot of the land is rocky and a lot is in an Arctic climate. There are very high mountains, large forests, and very big lakes and rivers. Almost all Canadian rivers have rapids and falls. The most famous are the Niagara Falls. Further south there are the moose, beaver, the Canada lynx and the black bear.

Many different species of birds, e. Whereas the description of the physical environment might be acceptable, the information about the population is not. In this case statistics depict cultural diversity; they are compared with statistics on Germany. Most human beings function best and feel most at home in their own group, in their own culture. They have been socialized in it, i. We do not know of any culture or language in which this opposition does not exist.

But it has also many disadvantages: it impairs flexibility, maintains the separation between groups and encourages negative views of the out-group. It highlights a certain set of features [ In order for something to possess an identity, it must be different from everything that is not it.

In order for something to be different from what is not it, it must be clearly delimited and set off from what surrounds it. Consequently, identity can only be perceived in terms of difference and delimitation or demarcation. The learner is expected to create in his mind a differentiated image of the target culture s which results from a process of evaluating cultural phenomena. Foreign countries and cultures are no longer regarded as a source of background information for teaching the language and literature of a country.

And they are no longer represented by traditions and customs—as is still done in tourist brochures. It is this difference which makes the Canadian identity. But still, Canada is not viewed from the perspective of Canadians. It is the Eurocentric perspective which is omnipresent. This article is about the contribution of immigrants and minority groups to Canadian society. It is not only the cultural influence which can be recognized in all fields of everyday life.

As human resources, these people also contribute to demographic and economic development as the journalist Charles Trueheart writes in his newspaper article:. Immigrants and refugees keep this vast, thinly populated country from losing population. Immigrants contribute to the tax base and the job pool and open lucrative commercial lines to their home countries. Again, the learner is to compare the situation in Canada with the situation in Germany concerning immigration. In contrast to the aforementioned example this unit concentrates on statistics and the ethnic stratification of the population.

Problems resulting from the confrontation of cultures are neglected:. These authentic voices represent different views of the Canadian character and mentality. Their comments on this character are related to climatic conditions and the natural environment. Richard A. Preston puts it bluntly:. Canadians often appear to suffer from a pronounced inferiority complex resulting from their proximity to the United States. They are probably the only people in the world whose nationalism consists mainly in complaining that there is no real national identity in the country.

In spite of all cultural and national differences, identification makes the process of understanding the other easier. The textbook Colourful Canada offers many opportunities to develop empathy and to initiate understanding. A young Inuit, a young Mohawk Indian and a young Chinese-Canadian are telling about their lives in Canada and about their opinions of cultural, ethnic and national identity:. My father and uncles, and my cousin Ken and I hunt walrus and seals.

Multiculturalism, citizenship and national identity | openDemocracy

There are probably only a few hundred families left who continue this tradition. Then I left to become a hunter. All my school friends went to work in the oil and gas fields, and most of them have become like Canadians now. They eat hamburgers and French fries, watch videos and earn a lot of money. Joe My life as an Indian is similar to, and yet different from, the life of the young white people who live outside the reserve. Jane I think of myself as Canadian, and although I am very proud of my Chinese cultural heritage, I will never live in the traditional Chinese way that my parents do.

It is also about multiculturalism and the unity of the country which can be realised if all the cultural communities regard themselves as Canadian. McIvor says:. Some of my people get angry at me for saying this. Whereas those textbooks which were published in the s and before mainly focused on facts and figures to provide background information on Canada to our students, modern teaching materials try to enable the learner to initiate cultural awareness and to develop intercultural competence, i.

Canada is a very suitable object to study the complexity of a multicultural society and the issue of a national identity. The examples taken from textbooks showed that we have to view identity or identities from various, non-Eurocentric perspectives. The large number of cultural and ethnic communities in Canada, especially the non-dominant groups, influences our preconceived image of the country which is to a large extent based on heterostereotypes.

Minority voices and the perspective of marginalized groups contribute to reaching the aims of intercultural education and to reconsidering our self-image and our views of foreign cultures. On the other hand, many progressives err in supposing that civic or political values are all that matter in liberal democracies.

They reject the idea of a national cultural identity as obsolete or dangerous. Joppke overstates the case. As noted, the public domain of liberal democracies tends to include some symbolic and institutional representation of a particular national culture through the flag, holidays, language and so on. In his book Is Multiculturalism Dead?

Although the examples may be limited in a liberal democracy, the political expression of a national culture extends well beyond public holidays and national languages. A national cultural identity also operates more implicitly on the governmental and public domains. States prioritise and interpret liberal democratic values in ways that reflect their national histories and traditions as Joppke acknowledges.

The US, for example, emphasises liberty above all else.

France emphasises equality and republican fraternity. Britain and Australia each emphasise liberty and equality, with Britain rather more energetic on liberty and Australia more on equality. And so on.

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Political values also tend to be culturally inflected. Liberty and equality are often equated with how the cultural majority lives, works and plays. So, for example, freedom is being able to wear miniskirts and next to nothing but not Islamic clothing that covers the head or face.


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More generally, the law and public institutions of a society will perforce reflect something of the spirit and character of the people who established them. Whether it is the organisation of public life, the education and health systems, or where the limits of toleration are drawn, no two democracies practice their common values identically. Finally, simply dwelling on civic and political values misses the place and force of a national culture beyond the governmental and public spheres. National identity in its deepest sense of national character and most pervasive sense of a national culture remains vital and shapes the life of the polity and of society.

The mistake is in thinking that it must be defined. A bit like a career, a national cultural identity is something that people look back upon rather than plan for. It is always a work in progress. It unfolds and changes, driven by everyday human interaction. And it is not the business of government or politicians to complete the definition of what it means to be Australian. To their credit, most of our politicians are reluctant to wade into issues of national cultural identity. One suspects that this springs less from a denial of its existence than from a well-founded sense of their lack of authority to pronounce upon it.

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Two years later, in an Australia Day address in London, then shadow immigration minister Scott Morrison discussed Australian national identity at length. It is genuinely remarkable how philosophically open our mainstream parties now are to a dynamic and evolving national identity, the occasional cultural nationalist such as John Howard and Tony Abbott notwithstanding. Of course, the philosophical openness and long-term view are not always upheld in practice here and now.

Which brings us to multiculturalism. For most of the countries that adopted it in the latter twentieth century, multiculturalism aimed to better realise liberal values and democratic citizenship. State institutions and laws were no longer to be the exclusive preserve of the dominant cultural majority. Rights and opportunities were to be made available to all citizens.

For Western nations that consider liberal democratic values to be an integral part of their cultural inheritance, either alternative would seriously compromise their sense of themselves. Central to multiculturalism is a quest for inclusion. Adopting multiculturalism policy marks a change in national identity in the governmental domain by virtue of being adopted, and in the public domain by virtue of opening up public institutions to a diverse citizenry. Some analysts suggest that multiculturalism policy also transforms the broader national culture and identity.

A comparison of the Canadian and Australian cases is instructive. The initial focus was on settling and integrating recent immigrants. But even its development never extended beyond better realising the principles of individual liberty, equality and toleration. Nor, unlike the Canadian model, has it emphasised minority cultural maintenance. To be sure, Australian multiculturalism repudiates the racist White Australia policy although the latter was unravelling long before the multicultural era. It also rejects requiring immigrants to culturally assimilate.

At most there was — and is — an expectation that Australian culture and identity will naturally change over time with the changing composition of the population. The Canadian and Australian experiments with multiculturalism bookend the conundrum that liberal multiculturalism faces regarding national culture and identity. Simply offering up a mosaic of different cultural identities and traditions and being proud about it does not make a national identity in the national—cultural sense. As the Canadian experience shows, it actually requires repudiating a national identity.

Repudiating but not eliminating, as the elevation of the mosaic simply masks the force of the dominant culture still operating beneath the official rhetoric.