Топик Multiculturalism in the Modern World - Межнациональные отношения в современном мире
Before talking about multiculturalism in the modern world let us give the definition of the word 'culture'. Longman Dictionary of English Language and Culture defines culture as 'the customs, beliefs, art, music, and all other products of human thought made by a particular group of people at a particular time'. Culture comprises all activities people practice, what they eat, how they dress, etc.
The modern world can be called multicultural due to racial, cultural and ethnic diversity. Through the process of globalization and immigration modern society has become a mixture of different nations and cultures. Cross-cultural contacts have grown significantly nowadays. Thanks to globalization we can enjoy foreign goods, food, music, ideas, technologies and practices. Multiculturalism supports the ideals of a democratic society in which every person is free and equal in dignity and rights. It leads to understanding, friendship and respect among racial and ethnic groups. All people are equal which enables them to participate fully in the social, cultural, economic and political life irrespective of their race, religion, colour of skin or origin. The positive attitude to multiculturalism plays a very important role in the fight against all forms of extremist action.
Some people have a negative attitude to multiculturalism as they believe that it erodes social stability and national cohesion. People's prejudices and fears may result into ethnocentrism or they may lead to racial discrimination, social conflicts and violence. Ethnocentrism is the belief that one's own race or ethnic group is more important than others and that its culture is superior to the culture of other groups. It occurs when one culture or nation places itself at the top of an imagined hierarchy of cultures and nations.
The United Kingdom has one of the highest immigration rates in the EU. Although white people make up over 90% of the UK population, there are also many other groups living in Great Britain. The largest ethnic group is Asian (4% of the population). This group includes people from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The other main ethnic groups are Afro-Caribbean, African, Arabic, and Chinese. In London, almost 30% of the population are Asian and black. The main reason why London has become a multicultural city is the long history of immigration to Britain which increased greatly after World War II. Immigrants were encouraged to come to Britain as the country needed many workers to rebuild its economy after the war. Now the children and grandchildren of the earlier immigrants are full members of British society. Immigrants come to Great Britain for many reasons: some of them look for a well-paid job and better life; some seek protection from poverty, military conflicts or political persecution. Almost every part of London is populated with a wide mixture of people from many different countries.
Talking about the United States we often use the metaphor 'melting pot' to emphasize that all the immigrant cultures have mixed and assimilated into American society. White Americans make up the majority of the US population (about 75%). Blacks or African Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, American Indians, Alaska Natives and other races make up 25% of the population. From 1880 to 1930, there was a huge growth in immigration to the United States. Today, the largest groups of immigrants come from Mexico, the Philippines, and other parts of Latin America and Asia.
Today behind many social and political conflicts there is a problem of cultural differences. That's why we need to create a harmonious integrated society where every member enjoys equal rights. Multiculturalism helps us build bridges between communities; it is the pledge of piece, understanding, harmony and wellbeing. Multiculturalism will help us create a united and tolerant culturally diverse society. As Bhikhu Parekh, a professor of political philosophy at the University of Westminster, said, 'Multiculturalism is not about shutting oneself up in a communal or cultural ghetto and leading a segregated and self-contained life. Rather it is about opening up oneself to others, learning from their insights and criticisms, and growing as a result into a richer and tolerant culture'.
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