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Multiculturalism In The 21 Century
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First, it was Angela Merkel who pointed out that multiculturalism has failed in Germany and now David Cameron declared that“the UK needed national identity to prevent people turning to all kinds of extremism”.
What are the risks of multiculturalism?
Multicultural societies are seen as more tolerant and democratic but there are also some problems attached to multiculturalism that, in some cases, it is seen as a threat to national identity.
Jonathan Sacks, Britain's Chief Rabbi, believes that "Multiculturalism can lead not to integration but to segregation” because it may reinforce the social frictions instead of reducing them.
Certainly there are some risks of friction between ethnic groups that have different religions and praise different values. The detractors of multiculturalism argue that it erodes the host nation’s distinct culture. Patrick West, suggests in his report “The Poverty of Multiculturalism” that “no society can survive unless its members subscribed to a set of core values, whereas multiculturalists encourage minorities to see themselves as separate”.
What is the British Identity?
Back in 2006, the then UK chancellor Gordon Brown announced plans to launch a British Day in order to ‘focus on things that bring us together’. Nevertheless, the plan was dropped due to a lack of consensus.
If we want to celebrate the British identity, first, we need to define it. Some of the main elements of a national identity are language and history. In Britain we don’t have a common history. Before the political union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland they were fighting against each other and still many people in Scotland regard themselves as Scottish before British. The ethnic minorities that constitute the cosmopolitan British society arrived in the country mainly during the second half of last century. Therefore, there has not been enough time to create a strong bond within the different communities.
The attempts of the past government to embrace all members of the communities did back fire. Putting at their disposal language facilities to ease peoples’ access to public services did not incentive them to learn the English language. But multiculturalism and social integration go beyond language. A successful social integration supposes the creation and establishment of common values that should be over ethnic differences. This by no means is synonymous that the different communities should give up their traditions.
As a translation agency, we come across different clients, individual and corporate organizations, of whom have different languages and cultures and we see mutual acceptance as the keystone of a productive social integration.
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