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Multiculturalism in the European Context: Attainments and Disagreements

Snježana Gregurović   ORCID icon ; Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies, Zagreb, Croatia

Puni tekst: hrvatski, pdf (1 MB) str. 353-374 preuzimanja: 643* citiraj
APA 6th Edition
Gregurović, S. (2016). Multikulturalizam u europskom kontekstu: dosezi i nesuglasja. Migracijske i etničke teme, 32 (3), 353-374.
MLA 8th Edition
Gregurović, Snježana. "Multikulturalizam u europskom kontekstu: dosezi i nesuglasja." Migracijske i etničke teme, vol. 32, br. 3, 2016, str. 353-374. Citirano 26.05.2020.
Chicago 17th Edition
Gregurović, Snježana. "Multikulturalizam u europskom kontekstu: dosezi i nesuglasja." Migracijske i etničke teme 32, br. 3 (2016): 353-374.
Gregurović, S. (2016). 'Multikulturalizam u europskom kontekstu: dosezi i nesuglasja', Migracijske i etničke teme, 32(3), str. 353-374.
Gregurović S. Multikulturalizam u europskom kontekstu: dosezi i nesuglasja. Migracijske i etničke teme [Internet]. 2016 [pristupljeno 26.05.2020.];32(3):353-374.
S. Gregurović, "Multikulturalizam u europskom kontekstu: dosezi i nesuglasja", Migracijske i etničke teme, vol.32, br. 3, str. 353-374, 2016. [Online].

The paper deals with the normative meaning of multiculturalism and the idea of promoting cultural diversity through the politics of recognition, the politics of diversity and identity politics. The author wants to draw attention to the limited achievements and disagreements of multiculturalism with regard to the ways of including various cultural groups in society by exposing three multicultural theories – liberal multiculturalism, egalitarian multiculturalism and dialogically constituted multiculturalism. In the European context multicultural policies, as a state sponsored policies of integration, refer to the way in which countries respond to the cultural differences resulting from the increase of the number of immigrants. The countries’ responses to these differences depend on the organization and structure of state institutions, the distribution of states’ power and authority, and the manner of functioning of the welfare state (Geddes, 2003). Multicultural policies, as any other integration policies, should strive for immigrants to become equal citizens and to develop a sense of belonging to a host country. This paper examines how multiculturalist policies have been successful in achieving these goals.
Bearing in mind the fact that there is no integrative theory of multiculturalism that provides clear answers to questions related to the regulation of the cultural, religious and ethnic diversity, we have put forward three starting points of multicultural theory in order to indicate the variety of disputes that arise around these issues in modern liberal societies. Many liberal and even progressive thinkers believe that meaningful multiculturalism must be based on the equality policy, economic redistribution and social restructuring (Fraser, 1997), which is quite in line with the aim of the integration policy, that is equal treatment of immigrants in the host society and development of a sense of belonging among them. In the debate on multiculturalism there is a particularly pronounced gap when it comes to the idea of economic redistribution. On the one hand, the emphasis is on the idea of recognition of cultural differences without a call for economic redistribution, and on the other the issue of recognition is neglected in favour of economic redistribution. A more comprehensive conception of multiculturalism would require elimination of such contradiction (cf. Hartman and Gerteis, 2005), and the one-dimensional concept should be replaced with the integrative concept that includes both politics – politics of recognition and of economic redistribution.
The multiculturalist policies in Europe have been criticised from all sides. Criticism of multiculturalism has wide repercussions in various spheres of society and, among other things, it is a new impetus to extreme political parties that advocate a restrictive immigration policy as well as limited access to citizens’ rights. The politicians of the three most powerful European economies (Germany, Great Britain and France) have taken a strong stance against multiculturalism and allegedly poor integration effects of multiculturalist policies as well as for disintegration of society. This understanding implies a static concept of social order in which cultural diversity is perceived as a threat to social cohesion. In this opinion, social order and stability are always much more difficult to achieve and maintain in the context of diversity than in the context of homogeneity. Besides, in the European context, questioning of multiculturalist approach and a certain return of assimilation (theory and politics) could be also found in the work of the United States theorists who try to justify such policies considering them as a strong platform which reduces the structural inequalities (Glazer, 1993; Portes and Zhou, 1993; Alba and Nee, 2003).
It is doubtful how much the reintroduction of assimilation policies in the European context would achieve the desired integration results. It seems that the introduction of any radical solutions referring to the inclusion of newly arrived groups produces very poor integration effects. Forcing cultural assimilation by state institutions through the introduction of obligatory integration courses and through giving importance only to socio-economic dimension could be just as deflating as the granting of special cultural rights and recognition of cultural difference through multiculturalist policies and ignoring importance of socio-economic dimension of integration.
Since recently there have been discussions about the connections between the politics of recognition and the politics of redistribution, it could be assumed that the multiculturalism backlash stems from economic rather than ideological reason. However, research findings do not confirm that the introduction of multiculturalist policies affects the weakening of the welfare state. But, on the contrary, there are findings that show how multiculturalism policy combined with generous welfare state could cause poor integration outcomes.
Many theoretical research (Banting and Kymlicka, 2004; Banting et al., 2006; Entzinger, 2006; Evans, 2006; Kraus and Schönwälder, 2006; Miller, 2008) question the connections between ethnic diversity, multiculturalism and the welfare state. However, there are few studies that explain how multicultural policies linked with generous welfare state influence immigrant integration. The findings of many studies dealing with the influence of multicultural policies on the welfare state suggest that the very multicultural policies are not responsible for the weakening of the welfare state and for reducing the allocation of funds for social purposes (Banting and Kymlicka, 2004; Banting et al., 2006; Evans, 2006; Entzinger, 2006; Miller, 2008). In the study of twenty-three types of multiculturalist policies, Banting et al. (2006) tested whether countries with more developed multiculturalist policies faced impoverishment and erosion of the welfare state in comparison with the countries in which these policies were less developed. It has been found that multiculturalism policies did not affect either the impoverishment or weakening of the welfare state, and even the number of immigrants, national minorities and indigenous people did not affect the welfare state and its functioning although it seemed that a sharp rise in the immigrant population affected the distribution of social resources.
Entzinger (2006) presented interesting findings about the retreat from the proclaimed multiculturalism as official national policy in the Netherlands trying to explain whether the abandonment of the multiculturalist policies caused a weakening of the welfare state, which occurred due to the generous funding of minorities and migrant groups. He concluded that a certain shift from multiculturalism policies was not a consequence of the weakening of the welfare state but because these policies failed to integrate minorities into socio-economic sphere of Dutch society. The results of several cross-national analyses suggest (Murdie and Borgegard, 1998; Phillips, 1999; Koopmans, 2010) that multiculturalist policies have failed to integrate immigrants particularly with respect to socio-economic terms. A large number of migrants continue to be dependent on social assistance, they have a low employment rate and high unemployment, live in poor housing conditions, their children have a lower level of education and high school dropout rate, they are spatially segregated and their quality of life is worse than that of the natives. Ruud Koopmans (2010) also provides a similar argument about the retreat of “multicultural” policy approaches in the Netherlands. Analysing integration policies and the welfare-state regime in eight European countries Koopmans claims that multicultural policies, when joined with a generous welfare state, have resulted in low immigrant integration outcomes. These outcomes refer to low levels of labour market participation, high levels of segregation and a high crime rate among immigrants.
Koopmans (2010) argues that in the countries with a generous welfare state, multiculturalism may not be beneficial for all immigrants because it can lead to dependence on the welfare-state support and consequently to the increase of social and economic marginalization (Koopmans, 2010: 2).
Multiculturalist policies in the European context have failed as indicated by unsatisfactory integration results. The policies in the Netherlands, Sweden and Belgium, for example, have allowed migrants to survive on the welfare support without their inclusion in the labour market. It affected their economically disadvantageous position and further marginalisation.
At the end of the paper the normative reasons for preserving cultural and ethnic diversity are questioned. What if traditional values and preserving culture are not of crucial importance for a “good life” as multicultural theorists claim, but are also brought into question? As Barry (2006: 78) pointed out, birth or belonging to a particular ethnic group did not oblige anyone to be a guardian of their "ancestral culture." Finally, it should be noted that immigrants are not a homogenous group as Parekh (2008) pointed out. They differ among themselves with regard to the level of education, lifestyles, ethnic and/or religious affiliation, social capital, etc. In studying and making immigrant integration policies it should be kept in mind.

Ključne riječi
multiculturalism; multiculturalist policies; liberalism; immigrants; welfare-state; integration outcomes; European countries

Hrčak ID: 177004



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