Faversham Stoa is a philosophy discussion group meeting on the 3rd Tuesday of every month from 7.30 to 9.30pm in the The Bull in Tanners Street. We cover a large range of topics. If you have an idea for a topic that you would like us to cover why not drop us a line? There's no charge for membership and everyone is welcome to drop in. Just bring your brain and some beer money!

Diversity

Diversity cartoon Diversity is both a fact and a value. It is a clearly a fact that since WW2 the UK has become increasingly diverse. This is not just in terms of greater ethnic range but also in the increasing visibility of various other minorities, who while present in society in past were largely marginalised and invisible. I am thinking here of those groups with non-mainstream sexualities, the disabled and religious minorities. The issue of women, while not a minority group, is relevant here too, for diversity also covers the growing variation in women's roles since the Feminist movement began.

However, diversity is also promoted a something valuable in itself and just about every organisation nowadays has its diversity policy and regular diversity training courses. Proponents of diversity training claim that it makes for a better workplace atmosphere, enabling employers to draw on a wider skills base, to deal with conflict more effectively and to retain staff.

On the other hand, critics of this kind of training have argued that it focuses too much on the victimhood of people who are not white males. It further reinforces differences between individuals instead of concentrating on their commonalities thus helping to further racialise the workplace. People then feel they have to “tiptoe” around the issues of how to relate to people of different cultures, sexualities and abilities rather than learning how to truly understand each other.

You might think that all the criticism of diversity comes from the Right, people who want a mono-culture, and that those who want multicultural mixing come from the left. But it's not as simple as that. Some of the most vociferous critics of diversity and multiculturalism come from the left. One of the most interesting is Kenan Malik, several of whose articles on the topic are listed below.

Malik's argument is that multiculturalism drives people into fixed ethnic groups implying that those groupings are natural givens and that only within those groups is flourishing possible. The alternative view, he argues, is the notion of universal citizenship championed in the Enlightenment, where everyone is an equal citizen under the law and religion and cultural differences belong to the private sphere.

Back in the 1950's and 60's ethic minorities were not seeking respect for their cultures but campaigning for political rights. And that's how it should be. Everyone respected as an individual citizen but with culture a private matter but open to discussion and criticism like everything else.


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