No one group is taken to be superior to the other. The government does not force people to adhere to one universal religion or culture.
Many people support multiculturalism. This is especially so in the academic circles and in the media (Malik, 2008:89). It receives a lot of support from those countries that are culturally diverse, with a lot of different cultural groups making up the society, as opposed to one cultural group. But this theory has its share of opponents. It is especially opposed by those people who adhere to a particular set of norms of one culture. In Europe and the United States of America, this phenomenon of multiculturalism can be traced back to the last years of the nineteenth century (Barry, 2001:56). It started as a form of philosophical, pragmatist ideology. Then, as the nineteenth century came to an end and the twentieth century began, it metamorphosised into something entirely new. It became part of the political and cultural pluralism in these countries (Barry, 2001:67). Around this time, the European and Western countries were colonising Africa and as such, had to recognise the cultural diversity of these countries. There were a lot of migratory activities in to Europe and America which meant that these countries had a diverse society as far as cultural groups are concerned. The sociologists and historians of the time came up with a form of cultural pluralism that gave rise to multiculturalism (Harker, 2006:45). This paper will try to look at multiculturalism as far as social segregation is concerned. This is because multicultural policies have been accused of segregating the society into different and separate cultural groups and these acts as a hindrance to social cohesion.
Multiculturalism Policies Promotes Social Cohesion
These policies might include the recognition of multiple citizenship. The administration might also promote media houses that operate in a minority language (Harker, 2006:23). Members of these groups have holidays set aside for the celebration of their culture. Some schools in America allow Muslim girls to go to school dressed in the traditional Islamic attire for the woman. The country might also go as far as having members of different ethnic groups governing themselves with their own set of laws. This is for example the Islamic Sharia laws. All these policies are opposed to assimilation (Phillips, 2005: 23). This is the process whereby members of a minority ethnic group are absorbed over time into the culture of a well established and dominant cultural group (Temko, 2007:89). They shed many of their distinct cultural traits and adopt those of the dominant group. The end result of this is a unified society. These approaches are adopted by different countries. For example in Europe, France is an assimilative society while Britain is multiculturalist. America is also a largely assimilative country. That is why it has acquired the label of a cultural melting pot.
Assimilation has been accused of assuming a breach of human rights approach (Temko et al, 2007:26). This may include slavery, imperialism and colonialism, amongst others. The Africans went through this process of forced assimilation during the colonisation era (Temko et al,