Politics

CULTURAL DIVERSITY AND INTERCULTURAL DIALOGUE

DAMLA YAPILI

Abstract:

What is cultural diversity? Is it a cause of tension a source of peace? This big question makes us curious about the different ethnic, religious and linguistic structures, its effects on the distinct corners of the world, and intercultural dialogue between these concepts which are to research deeper. In this sense, this article will try to respond our question; in which mentioning the effects of globalization and technology on cultural diversity, types of identities, importance of regional initiatives. There would be some proposals about the challenges of intercultural dialogue on the basis of UNESCO World Report, Investing in Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue. Furthermore, there is an essential notion that is “integration” in the context of cultural diversity, it is a process which provides the unification of individuals or in other word “migrants” who were already isolated in the society with institutional policies that are made by the receiving societies, and have a big impact on the policies of states. In order to clarify this issue, this article also will analyze the integration policies of two states in which there are different approaches, Germany and the United Kingdom according to MIPEX 2015 (Migrant Integration Policy Index).

Keywords: Cultural Diversity, Intercultural Dialogue, Integration, Germany, United Kingdom

1.CULTURAL DIVERSITY AND GLOBALIZATION

Cultural diversity and differences that exist in the world, involves a plurality of distinctive cultures, norms, values languages, ethnicities, religions, customs, etc. There are 4 types of identities to describe diversity that are national (where people come from), religious (which beliefs people have), cultural (in what kind of traditions people socialise) and multiple (dual & mixed) identities according to World Report of UNESCO.  Most of the time, people say cultural diversity is directly associated with “national identity”. However, these other types shows us it is more complex than it because people define themselves according to their life styles and perspectives. For example, let us imagine two people, one from country A and one from country B but their religious beliefs are the same, or they officially use the same native language, or they are in the same gender like female, male, trans-gendered, bisexual, lesbian or gay.

Globalisation, urbanisation and migration generate a homogenised culture so cultures are constantly evolving. This means diversification. Kevin Robins signifies in his in his article (The Challenge of Transcultural Diversities) that “What we are seeing is the proliferation of a new phase of migration, associated with new kinds of transnational movements, flows and connections of people into and across the European space. These are developments associated with the economic and social dynamics of globalisation”. Nonetheless, there should be bridges between differences. In this sense, importance of intercultural dialogue manifests itself and says us “Interact! Support! Empower!”. It is urgent that while identities are protected, this dialogue should be promoted. Thanks to globalisation, cultures are easily interacting each other and exchange. For instance, high technology makes people connected from far distances. On the other hand, due to globalisation, some cultures, groups or identities start to disappear or becoming a shadow in the earth because some dominant trends like clothing, housing, population affect minor groups and people are imitating each other. Because of this some communities want to preserve their own culture and identity purely so they resist to change with the usage of religion, race, age, education. Therefore, tensions, conflicts and disagreements are becoming inevitable results. In the report, UNESCO calls this situation as “political activism” (1)

Moreover, the report explains that Western paradigms make people homogen. This means people are culturally becoming mono-type and starting to adopt themselves to these paradigms which could be under the effects of globalisation, or migration, or technology. Therefore, this process become “multidimensional and multidirectional” because there is flow of capital, knowledge, commodity and belief. First of all, geographic location is an important point for it. Mass media and technology make people influenced by other cultures since when they see the news, photos of something beautiful, they start to research about them and be affected. For example, nowadays, Syria and refuge crisis is a significant source of influence so people ask themselves what the terrorism is or who Muslims are.

  • Executive Summary of UNESCO World Report, Page 10

2.EFFECTS OF MIGRATION ON INTERCULTURAL DIALOGUE

Increase in international migration, emigration and brain-drain are essential for cultural diversity that migrant people have different cultural expressions that cause diversity and creation of new things. For instance, from my experience, here in Barcelona, El Raval has a great capacity of migration and in general people have the same dinner time with Catalan and Spanish people. Or, if they come from a very strict religious state, women start to wear some modern cloths like here. These are very simple examples which are showing us how the culture change in an easy way. Then, tourism is an important effect for local population that brings some information and experience to the region. At first, it seems like a positive effect but there is a negative effect with it. For example, in Istanbul, there are many attractive places to see in which there are also many shops and shop keepers try to talk in English with tourists at the end they say “bye” but after a while, people get familiar with it and start to use it really commonly. Nowadays, if someone visits Turkey, he/she would see how people get rid of their own language because of these kind of exchanges. Finally, technology has a great importance for cultural diversity that new generations use it really actively that actually it makes them anti-social because they only care about virtual/cyber world so it makes them far away from their own culture and sometimes they lose. However, with innovation and creativity of the technology, people can be inspired. The method (how to use for) is significant.

There have been many conflicts and tensions that are because of mixing of the cultures. People resist to new structures. According to this, national governments and sub-national organisations have an important role for serving as a bridge between them. For example, in Austria, Kevin Rudd had spoken about aboriginal people when he became a prime minister. He had apologised from them. This means recognition of different cultures that should be protected and respected. If not, conflicts are inevitable because there is a structure, communitatianism in which people want to react with the fear of destroyed traditionally so some states like Turkey put limitations and policies such as censorship and ban to c-section.  Michael Walzer states about this topic that “I am not a citizen of the world… I am not even aware that there is a world such that one could be citizen of it”. On the other point, there are some groups in which people mobilise themselves in a diversity such as LGBT communities.

When we think about intercultural dialogue, actually we should realise that there have already been a dialogue among variety of civilisations but this does not include an awareness of cultural commonalities and shared goals, and does not explain the challenges while this dialogue happening. For example, in past, Silk Roads make people connected with each other culturally and there was an exchange and borrowing system. On the other side, there were wars and colonialism. These shows us there should be an inter-dependency and interaction. We should focus on sharing cultures than differences and learn from history. Then, alienation and exclusion are the main obstacles for this dialogue. Most of the time, it is because of religious values in politics to be a dominant power. We should have an ability to listen to other voices, perceptual flexibility, empathy, humility and hospitality. Most of the young people are contributing to intercultural dialogue because they think more openly and freely than older people. This means the recognition of pluralism is easy for them.

3. A CASE STUDY ON MIGRANT INTEGRATION: GERMANY & UK

The integration is a process which provides the unification of individuals or in other word “migrants” who were already isolated in the society with institutional policies that are made by the receiving societies, have a big impact. According to Rinus Penninx (2003), this process is not only happening with physical factors likely housing, employment, education and with social & cultural factors such as reducing ethnic and identical privileges and also unequal distribution of services in the public life. In that sense, he states that acceptation & recognition of a diverse community is important to have a homogeneous society without tensions. (2)

  • By Rinus Penninx, Integration: The Role of Communities, Institutions and the State, October 1st, 2003

3.1. GERMANY

The MIPEX Integration Policy Index 2015 examines Germany’s policies in eight “legends” which are gives a kind of score to the country in order to understand the policy implementation process. These legends are labour market mobility, family reunion, education, health, political participation, permanent residence, access to nationality and anti-discrimination. In that sense, according to the MIPEX data of 2014, the most favourable legend is the labour market mobility. The increase in the employment rate and the strong labour market integration in Germany is necessary in terms of immigrants. (3)

In addition, according to MIPEX Migrant Policy Index 2015, there are some changes in the context. Firstly, Germany has been one of the most important countries in the Europe in 1960s  in the case of migrant workers who are families and guest labours for a specific time period. Then, Migrant workers in Germany contribute to employment and growth rate. Especially in 2014, the country achieved around %78 growth rate following Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Sweden.  Due to global recession since 2008, primarily European Union citizens, including citizens of non-European Union immigrants and the number of asylum seekers has also been increased approximately 75%. Finally, among developed countries that apply tolerance policy it has a major impact on Europe.  A majority of the public (83%) thinks that Germany is a welcoming country towards migrants. At the same time, %72 of the public thinks that non-EU and German citizens ought to have the same civil rights. (4) Because of this changes in the context according to the report of MIPEX, the policies are shaped like:

  • Germany makes its policies in an advancing way which provides testing period and then implementation with equal rights and support because these policies are considered as a long-term developments.
  • There are free and attainable courses by government for non-EU migrants in order to pass the citizenship test.
  • 2012 Recognition Act, which improves the opportunities for people who gained their qualifications abroad to work in their trained profession (5), is a range of support for migrants.

Lastly, MIPEX report 2015 states that today, most of Germany’s integration policy arrangements are leaving behind the West European countries and have taken its place among the top 10 countries. In Europe, Germany is to inspire everyone to form complete the integration process. For example, Austria and Switzerland gave up their innovation efforts, or under the influence of right-wing parties such as the UK and the Netherlands dropped from the list of the top 10 is located.  (6)

(3)Key Findings, Labour Market Mobility, Germany, MIPEX

(4)Changes in the Context, Germany, Policies, MIPEX

(5)European Centre for Development of Vocational Training, News, Germany: The New Recognition Act, 17th January 2013

(6)Conclusions and Recommendations, Germany, MIPEX

3.1.UNITED KINGDOM

MIPEX Migrant Policy Index 2015 examines also the United Kingdom with “legends” which are the clues in order to understand policy implementation of the countries. The most striking “legend” for the United Kingdom is that anti-discrimination policies which have really high rank according to the MIPEX report. The observation of MIPEX report is that when there exists a deduction on providing money and keeping under systematically review on citizens can gradually damage to the principle of equal treatment and justice since they would not be able to have an opportunity to have it due to the economical incompetence so this can create an essential impact on people in the sense of global values like human rights and anti-discrimination laws. (7)

Furthermore, it can clearly be observed in the index of MIPEX that the number of people who were born in a different country from his/her homeland is similar in United Kingdom compared with the other countries in Western Europe such as France, Germany, Netherlands. Secondly, the United Kingdom is one of the most allowing country provides work and study permission inside the country for the non-EU residents (around 60%, 2013) in Ireland, Cyprus, Switzerland and Malta. Ireland have become a host-land for highly educated people starting from 2006. The number of people increased from one fourth to the half similarly with Austria, Canada and New Zealand. The conservative-liberal democrat coalition took the place of labour government in the elections of 2010 and then increased its majority until the last elections. Finally, peoples of the United Kingdom are mostly favor of the integration of migrants into the country as well as other European countries (8). Because of these changes, there have been some policy effects on the issues. MIPEX 2015 sums them briefly (9):

  • The United Kingdom put some boundaries on reunification of families and becoming UK citizens between 2011 and 2014 and in recent years.
  • UK loses its points because of the large restrictions about integration likely Greece and Netherlands.
  • The United Kingdom is in the top point among European countries in terms of limitations and expenses of the citizenship in UK.
  • The country requires a level of language and fee in the sense of income, and limited access to benefits.
  • Nowadays, family-friendly policies are declining for separated families such as some restrictions about fees and language.
  • While Northern European countries rises their assistance for labour market integration, UK does the opposite and diminish it.
  • When the idea of Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant is being spreaded out, schools do not have to prepare reports and spend on bilingual education, and ethnic minority students.
  • UK has a national health service which is mature enough for migrants’ eligibility and a distinctive society who are able to reach this service.

Finally, the MIPEX 2015 index points out that the restrictions about non-EU migrants and the regulations leads to more economic struggle for migrant families and their children in order to stay inside the country permanently than other European countries. The English-speaker countries and UK ought to encourage the students from non-EU countries or minor groups since the main issue is anti-discrimination when the traditional England power because of the deduction on funding. (10)

(7)Key Findings, UK, Anti-discrimination, MIPEX

(8)Changes in the Context, UK, MIPEX

(9)Changes in Policies

(10)Conclusions and Recommendations

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue are very important issues that should be considered well. I have some proposals for these. In short, there should be built the bridges among cultures to achieve tolerance for every kind of differences like culture, value, norm, religion, ethnicity. Secondly, there should be empowerment of all participants without loss of identity, is necessary to overcome conflicts and tensions. It means ability to listen. Thirdly, to construct an intercultural dialogue is necessary to reach a shared value. Then, it is necessary to give importance to gender equality such as woman rights since they have a huge effect to promote the culture because they are mothers. In addition, young generation is a dynamic part of every society and they are significant to reach an agreement, too. Lastly, there should be awareness of the historical context and overcome prejudice and alienation in the frame of human rights and equality.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • The Challenge of Transcultural Diversities, Kevin Robins
    Revista CIDOB d’Afers Internacionals,  82/83, FRONTERAS: TRANSITORIEDAD Y DINÁMICAS INTERCULTURALES / BOUNDARIES: TRANSIENCE AND INTERCULTURAL DYNAMICS / FRONTIÈRES: TRANSITOIRE ET DYNAMIQUES INTERCULTURELLES (SEPTIEMBRE 2008), pp. 245-252
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