9 Examples of Cultural Diversity
John Spacey, July 17, 2021
Cultural diversity is the interaction of multiple cultures in the same place. This implies peaceful and civil interaction between groups with different cultural identities. The following are common types of cultural diversity.
MonoculturalismMonoculturalism is an ideology or policy that states that all people should fit in to the dominant culture in a place. This often overstates the sameness of a culture and underestimates existing diversity. For example, people often point to Japan as a prime example of a monoculture while ignoring the differences in culture between regions such as Kansai, Kanto and Okinawa. Likewise, Japan is a multiethnic society including groups such as Ainu, Chinese, Koreans and Okinawans†.
Cultural ImperialismCultural imperialism is an ideology or policy that seeks monoculturalism at the global level. For example, the idea that everyone should conform to the norms and sensibilities of a dominant power such as America, the European Union or China.
GlobalizationGlobalization is the process whereby nations and cultures become increasingly interconnected with time. This process has been underway since prehistory but has accelerated due to advancement in communication and transportation technologies. This can be viewed as the emergence of cultural diversity at the global level such that are more interconnections between people who have different norms, values, language, traditions, ethnicity and so forth.
Super CultureSuper culture is culture that spans national boundaries such that it provides a shared experience across cultures at a global level. For example, films, sports, music, recreation and hobbies that attract international audiences and participation.
National CultureNational culture serves to unify people in a nation to provide them with civility and shared experience. In this context, there are two types of national culture: multiculturalism and melting pot. Multiculturalism is a vision of a nation based on tolerance and celebration of differences -- this is analogous to a quilted blanket with many patches. A melting pot is the view that a nation serves to give everyone, whatever their background, a shared identity based on commonalities such as language and norms.
OrganizationsOrganizations such as firms and schools commonly seek to recruit diverse candidates including elements such as ethnic, cultural, intellectual and generational diversity. It can be argued that this helps to generate the creative tension required to prevent stagnation and spark creativity. As a counterexample, an executive team who are all German men in their 70s who fail to challenge each other's assumptions.
City CultureAs with nations, cities can take a multicultural or melting pot approach to cultural diversity. A multicultural city is likely to celebrate ethnic enclaves. For example, Toronto has a number of ethnic neighborhoods that are considered part of the city's identity and appeal. These include Chinatown, Corso Italia, Greektown, Koreatown, Little India, Little Italy, Little Jamaica, Little Portugal and the Polish community in an area known as Roncesvalles. At times, the identity of these neighborhoods has been actively celebrated and promoted by the city. A melting pot approach would try to ignore or integrate these neighborhoods.
Regional CultureIt can be noted that regions and cities tend to have very different cultures, even when they are located in the same nation. For example, it could be argued that California and Texas have different cultures that are both unique from American Culture as a whole. This speaks to the durability and universality of culture whereby differences in culture emerge everywhere.
SubcultureAny groups that spend time together form a culture. This is a process of emergence that simply requires shared experience. Subcultures are small highly specific cultures that emerge spontaneously. For example, fans of a particular lifestyle, sport, music or fashion may develop a subculture. This is an underappreciated aspect of cultural diversity whereby people with similar backgrounds can still manage to develop unique cultural identity such as the cliques in a high school.
Value of Cultural DiversityIt can be argued that cultural diversity adds to the richness of life and the creativity of groups. In terms of richness of life, consider a city that has many different ethnic neighborhoods each with its own cuisine, festivals, pastimes, traditions and architecture. In terms of creativity, creative tension born of diversity could have some value in stimulating imaginative change. For example, America is currently amongst the most diverse of nations that also has incredibly high levels of creative output in areas such as entrepreneurship, literature, film, music and science. There is obviously more to America than just diversity but this is an interesting argument nonetheless.
Cultural CompetenceCultural competence is the ability to influence and build relationships with those with whom you have little shared cultural capital. In the context of globalization and social change, those who thrive in diverse groups are likely to be more valuable to organizations than those who are biased, intolerant or incompetent when interacting with other cultures.
Culture ChangeAll cultures change with time and are influenced by other cultures. Cultural diversity shouldn't be confused with resistance to change whereby we must infinitely preserve past ways of doing things.
Pizza EffectThe pizza effect is the tendency for cultures to influence each other. Something is always lost in translation such that you end up with completely new culture. For example, a Japanese hip hop culture that is influenced by American hip hop culture but ends up being very different such that it has its own value.
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References† †† John, Lie. Multiethnic Japan. Harvard University Press, 2009.
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