, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 489-494
Date: 24 Aug 2011

Equality in Difference: Hierarchical Multiculturalism and Membership Illusions

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In his introduction to the Ashgate Research Companion to Multiculturalism, Ivison makes very clear that while multiculturalism (MC) or the “accommodation of cultural differences” concerns itself with the autonomy and freedom of groups, it especially focuses on individuals if individual ‘freedoms’ are curtailed by group cultural expectations. This perspective, however, reveals a bias toward only accommodating diversity that is compatible with the liberal ends of individual freedom and autonomy (“as well as thinking of ways of liberalizing currently illiberal practices”) (p. 10) as defined by the cultural (usually western) majority. Any societal subculture or “group that violates their members’ basic liberties, or prevents them from exercising their autonomy are not entitled to multicultural accommodation or protection” (p. 11). To be entitled to accommodation, groups need to respect individuals’ basic rights and offer “informed and effective choices” (p. 15) under the protection of spec