Multiculturalism Or Integration?

But can the similarity overcome the difference?

We had an interesting debate in my Philosophy class the other day: we were discussing, amongst other curious ideas, whether the British government’s philosophy of multi-culture was a good thing. Our teacher mentioned that a lot of the conflicting feelings over it came from the fact that, back in the 50s and 60s, immigrants to Britain would assimilate into the culture. However, in recent years, that hasn’t been happening because of a push for multi-culture, and now there are people living in Britain who want nothing to do with the British and cling to their own culture, refusing the society they live in.

Do you think this is right? Which do you think is better: multiculturalism or integration?

This is a topic which directly affects me, but which I don’t often think enough about. I was born in England, and I grew up in London for almost a decade. Then my mother took us to an African country I won’t specify for a few years to “experience our culture,” and when we all grew a bit fed up with that we came back to Britain. I have always considered myself British. I suppose you could say that I’ve assimilated (though God, I hate that word.) Granted I’m African too, but when you’re in Africa and you speak English with a English accent, you’re as good as foreign to the locals. I never really fit in there. Of course, I’m aware that there are people in Britain who feel that I don’t fit in here either, whether it’s because of my skin colour, my unpronounceable last name or the fact that I have a few African songs on my phone.

I don’t know how I feel about multi-culture. On one hand, it does teach us so much more about the world, it reminds you that you can’t hide away in your little town when there’s a whole world of languages and culture and people across the seas. It’s lead me to fall in love with Chinese culture, perhaps a poor example, but a personal one. On the other hand, yes, there can be tension and hate and violence when people don’t want to understand each other. There are the people who reap the benefits of a society like Britain or American or wherever else, but reject its culture and people and rules. I’m set against such behaviour, which I have personally encountered and also seen in the way expatriates (who are also immigrants) act in other countries.

Is integration the way forward? Should we all “assimilate” into the same culture? Or do we need some sort-of balance? To consider oneself both part of the culture you live in and yet be able to have some respect/understanding/pride of the culture of your ethnicity?

Ah, it’s a fierce debate over here. Our Prime Minister says that multiculturalism has failed, many parties push for a ban on immigration (I definitely agree with a cap, as Britain is a finitely-sized country) and in the middle of it all there’s a generation who don’t know whether they’re meant to “stick to their roots” or embrace the society in which they grew up. I want to believe that we can get along, and I don’t yet know whether that means having many cultures living side by side or having the nation adopt a single one. But I am starting to believe that integration without losing all aspects of an ethnic culture (which is possible) is the way forward.

6 thoughts on “Multiculturalism Or Integration?

  1. NicoLite Великий

    Actually, integration and cultural import has been the rule for millenia among humans. Humanities cultural evolution is facilitated through exchange, reinterpretation, reassembly, and again exchange. Cultural isolationalism in Japan after the Edo period led to a terrible social and technological stagnation, which was only lifted in the 1870s. It was a difficult, but necessary transition.

    1. dlaiden Post author

      You’re very much right about how often integration has happened in the world’s history. I think the difference now is people are actively aware of it, and don’t like the natural progression; they feel as if their culture is being completely eradicated. But change is part of being human, and it is definitely inevitable.

  2. Deri Pocock

    Integration? United States people call it the melting pot. It works PROVIDED everyone looks approximately the same, i.e. caucasian. But ask around in Alabama – people with your ethnic roots don’t seem to have been “stirred in”. Ask around in California or Oregon, where memories of WW2 concentration camps for people with Japanese heritage still rankle.
    Mexicans mostly look the same, but still divide between Indian and Creole and “otras”.
    Canada prefers multiculturalism, our term is cultural mosaic. I had wondrous times as a youngster there, strolling from a Greek village to Chinatown to one of Italy’s major urban settlements, all within Toronto. Politicians depend on support from more than one community, so it’s not a case of ‘divide and rule’. When the mosaic is well-knit by actively caring policies, it works well – most Canadians value the contribution to well-rounded lives from the nation’s many heritages.

  3. pirate0toujours

    You simply cannot put a cap on immigration – more than there is already! For some reason people think it is easy to get into Britain. It s not.And Britain belongs to the European Union, where freedom f movement and freedom of labour is the norm. To not allow freedom of movement within the EU would be a disaster, no matter what xenophobic politicians and newspapers say. It is also immoral..And it is very much a fact that immigrants from other EU countries fulfill roles better than GB persons do. I have a small company in Finland. My employees from Spain, Zambia (becoming Finnish by passport) and Latvia are wonderful. I am not even able to get Finns to work for me, unless I take on the unemployed as the local agency wants me to. Then I employ people drunk at work who can cause accidents. No thanks. In France they had a very similar argument, and looked at GB as the answer, saying that multiculturalism DID work. The French slogan is ‘Unity, Fraternity, Liberty.’ The general agreement is that ‘Fraternity’ – forced assimilation – does not work. That includes banning headscarves by the way. How can you ‘force’ someone to ‘assimilate’? Why shouldn’t someone from Jamaican heritage support the West Indies in cricket? In Finland they ave the same problem. But why should an immigrant become like a Finn? That would shock many immigrants – the level of drinking, the untying of family bonds.
    It is a very interesting country. Another 2 models to study are Canada and USA. USAs philosophy is melting pot – you assimilate. Canada’s is more ‘patchwork’ – multiculturalism. Which is better? Don’t know. I absolutely refuse to give up my culture personally….

  4. Jean

    I I

    Most of the time I don’t think about this issue anymore. It’s been a tough slog in life because I was born in Canada and lived here all my life but didn’t learn English until kindergarten. So I have a higher awareness of what it means to be immigrant even though I’m not. Plus being non-white adds to the whole mistaken immpression of being lumped with Asian immigrants..yea, “too many”. What’s the matter with people anyway?

    Willing to bet alot of “immigrant” looking Brits are actually Brits born in the UK or Commonwealth.


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