What Is Multiculturalism?

Multiculturalism is "the view that cultures, races, and ethnicities, particularly those of minority groups, deserve special acknowledgement of their differences within a dominant political culture," writes Jennifer L. Eagan for Britannica.com. It is essentially a response to the globalization of liberal democracies in recent decades, as well as a method of addressing the past and present oppression of certain marginalized groups.

Multiculturalism is a contentious issue, often resulting in political schisms and diametrically opposed political groups. Psychology is inherently interwoven into the fabric of multiculturalism, and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology program can provide students with the tools needed to effectively engage in this discussion.

The Psychology of Multiculturalism

As Michael Karson, Ph.D., J.D., writes for Psychology Today, "Multiculturalism also gets it right when it insists on being a lens, rather than a topic, of analysis. We cannot hold our own values and priorities up for scrutiny unless we are aware of other, different values and priorities." He argues that multiculturalism serves to provide contrast to accepted social norms.

Multiculturalism can provide a more malleable framework for not only our collective psychology, but our individual psychology as well. As Tim Dean, a contributor for ABC.net, points out, "We're built to absorb our proximate culture at a young age and, in doing so, our identity and values galvanise." It can be difficult to break through this pattern, but exposure to many different cultures is a way to shine a light on static values.

The Politics of Multiculturalism

On the politics of multiculturalism, Eagan writes, "Multiculturalism raises important questions for citizens, public administrators, and political leaders. By asking for recognition of and respect for cultural differences, multiculturalism provides one possible response to the question of how to increase the participation of previously oppressed groups."

Multiculturalism is inherently political and provides potential solutions for inequities between the treatments of different cultural groups. "Multiculturalism is right about the importance of making sure diverse voices are seated at the tables where policies are crafted and norms are established," writes Karson. He goes on to extoll the virtues of seating justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Thurgood Marshall on the U.S. Supreme Court, putting a woman and a black man at the table.

The Practice of Multiculturalism

In practice, multiculturalism can be an avenue toward a much more tolerant and pluralistic society. Dean argues, "Not only is multiculturalism inevitable, but it should be embraced warmly. Interaction between different cultures enriches all, it opens our eyes to new ways of thinking, new ways of seeing and interacting with the world."

Although it comes with its own set of challenges, multiculturalism is the result of a world in which commerce and transportation can take goods and people virtually anywhere on the planet in under a day. The internet has prompted a new wave of multiculturalism, giving people all over the world access to the cultural creations of different groups.

Earning a Bachelor of Science in psychology is one of many ways to take a look at the past, present and future of multiculturalism, and to understand it on a fundamental level.

Learn more about the LSUA online Bachelor of Science in Psychology program. LSUA also offers an online Bachelor of General Studies in Psychology program, which is designed for students who have a large number of transfer credits.


Encyclopaedia Britannica: Multiculturalism

Psychology Today: What Multiculturalism Gets Right

ABC.net: Managing Multiculturalism Starts With Psychology

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