As a part of the onset of postmodern thought, that objective, 'grand' narrative was rehashed. The sociologist Peter Berger, in his work on the sociology of knowledge, formulated a conception of the nation as an overlapping conglomeration of subjective perceptions, confined to a specific space.
Only a small part of the totality of human experiences is retained in consciousness. The experiences that are so retained become sedimented, that is, they congeal in recollection as recognizable and memorable entities. Unless such sedimentation took place the individual could not make sense of his biography. Intersubjective sedimentation also takes place when several individuals share a common biography, experiences of which become incorporated in a common stock of knowledge. (Berger 1966, p. 66)
And yet this has not been achieved without certain noticeable problems. Liberalism has ever sought to rationalise a given political space so that it may have a set of contiguous sign systems and a well-defined sense of national identity. Individual rights could be protected if all agreed to adhere to one political and cultural ethos. The emergence of 'group-differentiated rights' brought with it a major challenge to traditional liberalism.
Multiculturalist critics of liberalism have condemned difference-blind liberal laws as generally insufficient for addressing contemporary questions of [social] justice...[and offered] a challenge to laws [for] the general public [which entails] a conflict between liberalism and the demand for group-differentiated rights. (Akan 2003, p. 57)
As such multiculturalism has asserted the need to allow for a pluralistic and (inter)subjective division of cultural space. In the cases of Canada, the UK, and France, to varying degrees and in different ways, there exists a scaled polarity between the rationalising, conformist tendencies of liberalism and the nebulous, dissociating effects of multiculturalism. It is a question of analysing how and to what extent.
Canada has had an historical experience in which the aforementioned polarity has found a unique and profound voice. Canada has ever been 'a nation of immigrants'. It has one of the highest percentages of immigrants to native-born in the world. '[F]rom its birth as a self-governing nation in 1867 Canada was a multicultural mixture of British and French settlers and the indigenous people they called Indians' (One 2006). This historical experience largely founded on pluralism made Canada well-suited to develop an official policy mandating multiculturalism as the law of the land. Multiculturalism, as it is now known and referenced, is recognized as having been born in Canada.
In 1971 Pierre Trudeau, a Liberal prime minister, declared Canada bilingual and multicultural. The Multiculturalism Act of 1988 replaced the previous policy of assimilation with one of acceptance of diversity. Multiculturalism has since sunk deep roots in government, reflected in everything from broadcasting to education policy. It has itself become a basic Canadian value. Polls show that a majority support continued immigration and do not want it limited to whites. Almost half believe that immigrants should be free to