While countries used to be united by commonalities - a common culture, religion, or even ethnicity - immigration and globalization have created blended societies, ones that are culturally heterogeneous. Increasingly, this diversity of culture is being celebrated, rather than focusing on assimilating. Does cultural heterogeneity benefit society? And at what—if any—cost?
Yes, multiculturalism allows for a melting pot of cultures
People become more exposed to other cultures and are therefore introduced to unique knowledge, traditions, habits, and ways of life.
People are able to witness different cultures
If each society were homogeneous in its culture, people would never be exposed to other traditions. When heterogeneity is introduced in a society, people witness differences between their own culture and others. This inspires an appreciation for one's own culture, an interest and curiosity to learn about others, and a powerful social dynamic of group interaction.
Having a heterogeneous society inherently means that there are differences among people, which causes unrest.
Not understanding cultural differences and similarities causes bias
Ignorance about other individual’s differences causes bias. With multiculturalism, this happens often. People often form stereotypes because they only see a small picture of a culture’s true self. These assumptions can be detrimental to the health of society.
Yes, if different cultures share a foundational commitment to logic and reason.
Multicultural societies will often disagree on how to run themselves. Protecting people’s rights to hold and express different views, and openness to criticism and rebuttal, are crucial for the benefits of multiculturalism to be realised.
People will learn to respect each other and their respective cultures
In a multicultural society that protects people's differences, people will be forced to come together and learn to respect each other. Collective and productive discourse amongst everyone, regardless of background or culture, will cause everyone to become better together.