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 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.
- UNESCO Universal declaration on cultural diversity
- Adopted by the 31st Session of the General Conference of UNESCO---Paris, 2 November 2001---"The Declaration aims both to preserve cultural diversity as a living, and thus renewable treasure that must not be perceived as being unchanging heritage but as a process guaranteeing the survival of humanity; and to prevent segregation and fundamentalism which, in the name of cultural differences, would sanctify those differences and so counter the message of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
- Too diverse (2004)—David Goodhart
- Is Britain becoming too diverse to sustain the mutual obligations behind a good society and the welfare state?
- Kenan Malik's response to David Goodhart's Prospect essay 'Too Diverse'
- Diversity and trust—Anthony-Giddens
- "What I am persuaded of is that political correctness should not be allowed to stand in the way of further research. If diversity does compromise solidarity, it is a fact that should be brought out in the open, not dismissed for ideological reasons. It might make multicultural ideals more difficult to realise but... it is not a reason to abandon them."
- Against multiculturalism (2002)—Kenan Malik
- I want to question this easy assumption that pluralism is self-evidently good. I want to show, rather, that the notion of pluralism is both logically flawed and politically dangerous, and that creation of a 'multicultural' society has been at the expense of a more progressive one.
- All cultures are not equal (2002)—Kenan Malik
- 'I denounce the scholarship of European colonialism', CLR James once wrote, 'But I respect the learning and profound discoveries of Western civilisation.'
- Mistaken identity (2008)—Kenan Malik
- Obsessing about culture traps people in their own history, argue
- Multiculturalism undermines diversity (2010)—Kenan Malik
- The irony of multiculturalism as a political process is that it undermines much of what is valuable about diversity as lived experience. When we talk about diversity, what we mean is that the world is a messy place, full of clashes and conflicts. That’s all for the good, for such clashes and conflicts are the stuff of political and cultural engagement.
- The real value of diversity (2002)—Kenan Malik
- Cultural diversity only makes sense within a framework of common values and beliefs that enable us to treat all people equally. And to create such a framework requires us to be a bit more intolerant and to show a bit less respect.
- Thinking outside the box (2007)—Kenan Malik
- Only by establishing a distinction between the public and the private can we forge a relationship between diversity and equality, allowing citizens to have full freedom to pursue their different values or practices in private, while ensuring that in the public sphere all citizens are treated as political equals whatever the differences in their private lives.
- American Grace: how religion divides and unites us—Robert Putnam (85 min video)
- Robert Putnam talks about his research into American religion.
- An introduction to Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone (3.5 min video)
- Robert Putnam's research into the decline of civic engagement in the US.
- Criticism of multiculturalism (Wikipedia)
- Critics of multiculturalism question the ideal of the maintenance of distinct ethnic cultures within a state. Multiculturalism is a particular subject of debate in certain European nations that were once associated with a single, national cultural ethos. Critics may argue against cultural integration of different ethnic and cultural groups to the existing laws and values of the country. Alternatively they may argue for assimilation of different ethnic and cultural groups to a single national identity.
- Diversity and Danger—Gresham College lectures (video and text)
- 'Diversity' is increasingly fashionable; we are told it is a good thing and we should welcome, indeed encourage it. At the same time, fashionable wisdom maintains that 'cohesion' is important and finding a consensus is desirable. But where there is true diversity in opinions, beliefs, behaviours and practises, there is no consensus. And it might even adversely affect social cohesion, and increase hostility or even conflict.
- Harmony from Diversity (2006)—Gresham College lecture (65 min video and text)
- The Lokahi Foundation carries out multi-faith research in religion and outreach projects for the community, public servants and other professionals. A group of distinguished speakers, including Professor Tariq Ramadam, spoke at this event.
- Hindi people by Goodness Gracious Me
- On a ligher note this is a song by the comedy group Goodness Gracious me who satrise the fetishising of multiculturalism.