Different communities and nations have always moved changing their habitations, but since the mid-1900s, people began to travel more frequently. There has emerged a popular belief that in the future world all cultures will develop and transform into a single homogenous world culture. The idea was based on the assumption that due to technological developments in transportation, communication and trade, nations of the world will share much in common. In a globalizing world, peoples are watching the same programs on television, reading the same news, and communicating via the Internet. However, today, the idea of multiculturalism arouses more skepticism rather than hope. Many ethnic groups have become more nationalistic in response to the process of globalization. Hereby, each ethnic group tries to stress its unique cultural heritage and emphasize differences with regard to other groups that live in the same country or community. The major problem for the governments in coping with pluralistic societies is that they lack common cultural heritage and identity. In many cases, ethnic groups attempt to preserve their language and religious practices. For these reasons, political relationships within multicultural societies are often fraught and tense. In the worst-case scenario when feelings of nationalism arise among ethnic groups, political pressure may emerge which can lead to serious conflicts and separation. These risks are also linked to the impact of the process of globalization. As this process triggers rapid changes in social, economic and political conditions, it arouses the feeling of uncertainty. The conventional sources of collective identity are also threatened.
In response to these challenges, some governments tried to adopt collective rules and regulations based on tolerance and mutual respect. In anthropology, such policy is called multiculturalism. In fact, multiculturalism policies aim to manage a society with its cultural diversity. However, such policy seemed weak as it had to handle tension and conflicts between different ethnic groups. Thus, multiculturalism policies can trigger such problems as social and political instability.
This research will focus on kinds of multicultural societies that can be envisaged to increase diverse communities. It will also discuss and compare the progress of the United States and Australia in devising policies, which address cultural diversity of their citizens.
The Kinds of Multicultural Societies Envisaged in the Future
One of the realistic visions concerning the kinds of multicultural societies is cosmopolitanism. In fact, this vision acknowledges the social value of cultural diversity and is dependent on a deliberate and systematic understanding of the culture on a large scale. The major focus of this vision is the expansion of individual rights and freedoms. Thus, it defends multicultural diversity only in this perspective. However, the weakness of this vision is that it cannot provide the fullness of individual rights and freedoms. Gerteis and Hartman in their article ‘Dealing with Diversity’ noted, “what also stands out here is the corresponding weakness and public salience of subnational, mediating communities”. At the same time, cosmopolitanism may be skeptical about the constraints and obligations, which the community can place on persons. The vision places emphasis on individual choice and tolerance but does not give much attention to the importance of mutual obligations.
In Ethnic and Racial Studies, Richmond while discussing a ‘Third Way’ gives a good example of cosmopolitan issue. The policy agenda had contradictory values that related to radical socialist policies and free market capitalism. It posed threat to the capitalist system, setting incompatible goals and advocating for the means in pursuit of those goals that were not always appropriate. Moreover, ‘Third Way’ considered the opposition to social exclusion which was viewed by them as inequality. According to Richmond, “exclusion is being practiced in the name of preserving the privileges of those who enjoy the benefits of a ‘welfare state’”. At the same time, between the cosmopolitan elites and the poor class of immigrants there is a considerable social gap. Apparently, bridging that gap is one of the greatest challenges for the governments of countries that receive many immigrants. Moreover, the incorporation of the demographic majorities into a globalizing world system is not an easy task. Thus, the cosmopolitan vision of multiculturalism tends to be quite poor even though it can exist with no significant tension.
Another kind of multicultural societies that can be envisaged is fragmented pluralism. In fact, this vision focuses primarily on the existence of many distinctive and relatively reserved communities that can mediate their relationships. Thus, the communities may preserve their social closeness and strength. Fragmented pluralism may appear to be the opposite of assimilation. It is worth noting that this model is dependent on legal regulations. It does not provide grounds for creating common moral bonds. At the same time, this model emphasizes the role of a group which triggers a weak social boundary between the communities but very strong ties inside the groups. Thus, under assimilation model, the communities are absorbed into the society, while fragmented pluralism allows individuals an opportunity to become a part of a collective unit. According to Gerteis and Hartman, “The individual, in short, gets subsumed by the group rather than the nation”. Cosmopolitanism allowed one to have an individual choice of group membership. In fragmented pluralism, group membership is essential but not partial. The model of multiculturalism views social units as discrete and autonomous. It allows groups to have self-determination in shaping their identity. Thus, the proponents of this model place their emphasis on maintenance of distinctive culture of the group or community.
Perhaps, a good example of fragmented pluralism is a social organization of Calabrian community in Australia. The relationships in the communities are largely based on fictive kinship, though many families are also related by marital bonds and blood. Initially, Calabrian and Italian immigrants experienced some hostility of the dominant and hegemonic groups. As a result, they managed to avail themselves of the ties of godparents. The reason is that godparents were leaders of local Calabrian communities and imposed obligations and duties. However, they also acted as a buffer between Calabrian individuals and the inhospitable dominant community. Talking about Italian families, they lived in groups and used their social networking as a source of social capital. Thus, the model of fragmented pluralism allowed many Calabrian and Italian immigrants to be successful in many spheres of social life. The model of fragmented pluralism can be applied to multicultural societies, but it opposes social homogeneity.
Interactive pluralism has also been used in relation to multicultural societies for a long time. In fact, this model of multicultural societies recognizes the existence of distinct ethnic groups and cultures. In contrast to fragmented pluralism, interactive pluralism emphasizes the necessity to foster common understanding of the cultural or religious differences by the means of ongoing interaction and mutual recognition. For those who adhere to this model, cross-cultural dialogue and cooperation are of paramount importance and need to be fostered. Moreover, it is a form of multiculturalism that stays away from assimilation which does not accept any differences. Thus, interactive pluralism is dependent on a substantive form of agreement and harmony.
The necessity for this model can be observed in Germany where Turkish communities have difficulties in finding common ground with other ethnic groups. Apparently, some Germans use the term ghettoization when they refer to Turkish communities. However, the Turkish population in Germany is not forced to have residential segregation, and they are accessible to other communities. The exchange and interaction with the rest of the society is also permitted. However, the issues that are still to be discussed relate to cultural and social isolation.
The Progress of the United States and Australia in Immigration Policies
With the rise of colonialism and globalization, the labor migration has increased. People moved to the countries where they could get more employment opportunities. Many of those people expected to gain advantages offered by living in the immigrant countries such as political and religious freedom. However, migration to other countries often required the abandonment of a social structure people got used to, language and culture.
For the last century, many immigrants have been attracted to the United States and Australia. For example, the United States has a long experience of managing immigration from its inception in 1860. Talking about the legislative branch of the American Government, it is the U.S. Congress. The Congress is responsible for developing and passing the legislation, while the president signs those legal documents, thereby making laws. The implementation of legislation has been executed by federal agencies. The primary immigration-related legislation was enacted in 1952, which was known as the Immigration and Nationality Act. Since then, various sections of this legislation have been amended by other laws. The most significant amendments were passed over the last 2 decades. Moreover, the Immigration Reform and Control Act enacted in 1986 allowed people without legal documents who had lived in the USA before 1982 to legalize their status. Furthermore, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Control Act introduced in 1996 focused on immigrants who had criminal convictions and made their deportations easier. USA-Patriot
Act of 2001 was implemented to enforce measures to protect national security.
However, the laws with restrictions for some immigrants did not have a considerable negative effect on immigration. The United States was and still is considered to be a country with the successful history of immigration. Apparently, the key to this unique success is its policy that encourages patriotic assimilation; thus, newcomers feel welcome in America but are encouraged to learn and embrace local culture and governmental institutions. The purpose of this policy is to form one nation from various ethnic societies. To put it in other words, immigrants have to become Americans. According to Spalding, the Vice President of the Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics, this policy of assimilation led to strengthening of social capital, the renewal of national purpose and the ongoing growth of the economy. America showed goodness to immigrants, and immigrants showed goodness to America.
It is noteworthy that the American Founders did not form the society on the basis of ethnic or religious identity but offered equal rights to all immigrants. Spalding made the following comment on this issue, “All men – not just all Americans – are equal, because all possess fundamental rights that exist by nature.” The government had to secure those rights, and the just authority of the government had to be derived from the consent of the ordinary people. With the rise of nationalism and obtainment of independence by the colonial countries over the last decades, many people have become more reluctant to assimilate into the countries they immigrate, including the United States. However, the government policy of equality had a tremendous effect; thus, newcomers showed their allegiance to their new country that protected and secured their freedoms and rights.
In contrast to the United States, Australian government did not really follow the policy of equality. In fact, Australian authorities formed the society on the basis of ethnic identity when they enacted the White Australia Policy in 1901. During the colonial period, the British majority, also known as the crimson thread of kinship, managed to prevail over different ethnic groups. These groups included the Indigenous people in Australia, the Irish Catholics, and the ethnic populations that immigrated to Australia after World War II. However, the Migration Act of 1958 made changes in the White Australia Policy of 1901, thereby abolishing the controversial test for the immigrants and avoiding the issue of race. However, much damage to the White Australia Policy had been done in 1966 when Immigration Minister Opperman made an announcement concerning immigrants with good qualifications. The policy marked the transition from assimilationist vision to an integrationist model. In 1973, the Australian government made more progress in removing race issues from immigration policy. As a result, all migrants could obtain citizenship in 3 years if they permanently stayed in Australia. Also, in 1973, a reference paper known as A Multicultural Society for the Future was issued. The document addressed the development of human capital and social justice. During the last 3 decades, multiculturalism in Australia had some revisions. For example, welfare multiculturalism that was initiated to address the structural inequalities had failed. Then, in the period from 1975 to 1983, cultural identity had been revised. In the 1980s, the Hawke Government abandoned the policy that encouraged multiculturalism and adopted a policy of repealing the Act of 1973 that offered equal opportunities to all Australians. However, in 1999, the Howard Government initiated Australian Multiculturalism for a New Century: Towards Inclusiveness. In 2008, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship made announcement of establishing the Australian Multicultural Advisory Council. The Council had to promote the policies on issues of social cohesion and those aimed at overcoming cultural intolerance.
At the same time, the Australian society does not seem to favor the policies promoted by the government. The current Australian flag may help to understand what the Australian identity really is. In fact, the symbol of the flag is a reminder that the Australian identity is affiliated with Britain. People of other nations usually do not see any connection with Great Britain, but they identify themselves as the citizens of Australia. On the other hand, the union jack included in the Australian flag questions the identity of many immigrants. It suggests that only those who have their family origins in Great Britain may identify themselves as the original Australians. Chiro in his article ‘From Multiculturalism to Social Inclusion,’ also admitted the issue of Australian identity saying that “belonging is conditional to the ‘Australian way’ a standard that cannot be met through passing a dictation test – or even by adopting a prescribed lifestyle, though that comes”. Apparently, this vision is different from the policy of ethnic and social equality adopted by the United States. Thus, it is not surprising that many ethnic groups could not really assimilate into Australian society that comprised the hegemonic British group. At the same time, the Australian government makes much effort to remove any discrimination on the basis of race and religion. Moreover, this vision is addressed in ‘Fact Sheet 1 – Immigration of Department of Immigration and Border Protection,’ “Anyone from any country can apply to migrate, regardless of their ethnic, gender and or color, provided they meet the criteria set out in law”.
It is not easy to give an adequate assessment of successful settlement, as any view of habitation can be subjective in nature. As Burnet explained, the objective perception of the situations of immigrants can differ greatly from their subjective perceptions. Immigrants may have various perspectives concerning the realities that constitute success, and they may be different from those that the Australian born may have. However, the primary indicators of the successful settlement can be measured by the well-being and health of immigrants who are in motion. When viewed in such perspective, both the United States and Australia can be considered appropriate countries for immigration.
Many ethnic groups have become more nationalistic in response to the process of globalization. As the nationalistic feelings arose, immigrants have become reluctant to assimilate into the societies, and the governments of the countries of immigration began to implement different policies. The transition from assimilationist model to integrationist vision took place. The integrationist vision included cosmopolitanism, fragmental pluralism and interactive pluralism. The assimilationist model practiced in the United States could not work efficiently in Australia, as the Australian society had been formed on the basis of ethnic identity but not equality. Thus, many migrants who came to Australia experienced antagonism of the hegemonic British ethnic group. However, if the successful settlement is measured by well-being and health of immigrants, both the United States and Australia are good places for immigration.