Keyword: Cultural Diversity by Gunther Dietz

Kulturelle Vielfalt wird an vielen Orten gefordert, doch die Umsetzung gelingt meistens nicht. Inwiefern eine Umsetzung überhaupt möglich ist oder ob es sich vielmehr um ein Ideal handelt, das kaum zu erreichen ist, soll hier nicht diskutiert werden. Dieser Auszug aus einem Referat behandelt die verschiedenen Definitionen und Unterschiede unterschiedlicher Konzepte der kulturellen Vielfalt.

Chapter 2: Defining Cultural Diversity

1) What are the different definitions of diversity (Prengel/ Krüger/ dictionary)?

  • Prengel: Cultural difference refers to all differences in education (gender, immigration, disability)
  • Krüger: Plengel’s definition excludes “all the others” (political, sexual etc.)
  • Dictionary: Cultural difference is a situation that includes representation of multiple groups within a prescribed environment, usually refers to cultures or subcultures, no cultural superiority

2) What is the descriptive and prescriptive side of diversity?

  • Descriptive dimension: how are cultures, groups and society structured and how do they deal with heterogeneity?
  • Prescriptive dimension: How should cultures, groups and societies interact within themselves and among each other?

3) How does the UNESCO define “cultural heritage” (2002/2003)?

  • “Culture takes diverse forms across time and space. This diversity is embodied in the uniqueness and plurality of the identities of the groups and societies making up humankind. As a source of exchange, innovation and creativity, cultural diversity is as necessary for human kind as biodiversity for nature” => includes terms of changes, mixtures and diversity of cultures and people

Chapter 3: Multiculturalism, Essentialism and the Visibilization of Cultural Diversity

1) Define Essentialism and explain its problem

  • GRILLO 1998: “Essentializing involves categorizing and stereotyping […]”
  • too reified notions of culture and ethnicity => “assimilation strategy”
  • Problem: individuals are just “subject positions”, this categorizes and determines their subjectivity, treats individuals as if they were “essentially” defined

2) What are the social consequences of a political “assimilation strategy”?

  • Identity is no longer expression of the position that individuals occupy in the production process
  • There are no longer identifiable subjects but people who correspond to their “subject position”

3) How does the author define multiculturalism?

  • Multiculturalism is a movement which was formed by heterogeneous groups of movements, associations etc. who came together to justify the value of ethic and/or cultural difference and to pluralize society => politics of difference

Chapter 4: Discrimination, Recognition and the Pitfalls of Positive Discrimination

1) What is positive discrimination and affirmative action?

  • Positive Discrimination (affirmative action): “quotas” , e.g. gender, religion etc., as a disguise

2) What is the danger about multiculturalist’s movements?

  • Treat minorities like “species on their way to extinction” trying to “conserve” them => they make even more difference between human beings = can create segregationist tendency
  • stigmatizes and essentializes even more
  • VERTOVEC 1998: “’Culture’ […] is presumed to be something virtually burnt into the genes of people, forever distinguishing and separating them. A ‘multicultural’ society, in this reasoning, is therefore a pool of bounded uni-cultures, forever divided into we’s and they’s.”

Chapter 5: The Shift Towards ”Anti-Discrimination“ and ”Diversity Management“ Policies

1) What is the aim of multiculturalist’s movements?

  • To sensibilize society and politics and lead reality to more diversity

2) What is the “Race Directive” and “Employment Directive” and what is their function?

  • “Race Directive” and “Employment Directive” are acts that are passed to establish multiculturalism laws, established by European Union
  • “Race Directive” : fight for race and ethnic rights in all public and private contexts
  • “Employment Directive”: just work related, but includes rights referring to age, disability and religion

Chapter 6: Cultural Diversity as a Resource

1) What was the original idea of “diversity management”?

  • shift away from helping minority groups towards a general promotion of minorities, in order to prevent lawsuits

2) How is “diversity management” seen in our days?

  • Idea that diversity is a resource for firms, because they have more different input           => increasing economic and administration opportunities

3) What are perceivable and not-perceivable sources and how should we understand diversity in the opinion of the author?

  • Difference does not mean just perceivable sources, but also not-perceivable sources (lifestyle, value orientation, autobiographic features, etc.)
  • Diversity is not the existence of many different groups in a specific place, but something that distinguishes human beings from each other

Chapter 7: Cultural Diversity as a Right

1) What is the difference of universalism and particularism?pastedGraphic.png

2) What do we have to do to rescue human-rights as a principle universalizable?

  • Human rights were established in a specific historical moment in western countries => we have to separate them from their historical and cultural context and formulate them again to make them understandable for everybody

Chapter 8: Cultural Diversity at School

What does Dietz criticize about cultural diversity at school?

  • many think that problems at school are connected to migrational background
  • tendency to monocausal explanations, no relation to other influences
  • essentialist approach indirectly an unintentionally points out cultural differences and leads to an us-them understanding
  • there is no shared definition of “multicultural” or “intercultural” education and its education
  • there are more programmatic texts than empirical analysis, which means that teachers don’t get means at hand for a cultural diverse education
  • diversity is limited to the educational system and doesn’t find access to other social systems

Chapter 9: Diversity Problematized: the Culturalization of Difference

Where are the challenges of cultural diversity?

  • terminology for cultural diversity has to be enlarged and/or specified
  • risk of applying old thoughts that might result in a problematization of the existence of cultural diversity
  • confusion of individual and group diversity because of fusing them together
  • “de-code” the culturalist pedagogical discourse and “de-culturalize” the culturalist-biased interpretations

Chapter 10: Diversity as Hybridity: the Post-Colonial Dissidence

What are the issues concerning post-colonialism and cultural diversity?

  • two questions: (1) How can we still stick onto the Anglo-Saxon educational system as a role-model/pioneer? (2) How can we insist on its definition of clear-cut communities and identities?
  • little, if any, difference between cultural diversity today and in colonial times
  • the questioning of this might lead to new notions of “identity”, “culture”, and “nation”
  • “patchwork” identities do exist and its facets of identity will be the product of cultural “hybridization” or “creolization”
  • this might lead to the problem of classification
  • in addition, “the post-colonial de-construction of discrete identities runs the risk of de-mobilizing the social and pedagogical movement and/or de-legitimizing the diversified educational institution through affirmative action policies”

Chapter 11: Redefining Diversity: Culture, Ethnicity, Interculturality and Intersectionality

How does Dietz redefine diversity?

  • reason for a re-definition: “a mutually inter-related definition of culture and ethnicity is required for conceptually and empirically distinguishing between ‘intra-cultural’, ‘inter-cultural’ and ‘trans-cultural’ phenomena related to cultural diversity”
  • cultural praxis and interaction patterns as well as ethnicized collective identity discourses have to be both synchronically/punctually determined and diachronically/periodically de-constructed as culturally hybrid products of ongoing processes of intracultural communication, identification and ethnogenisis (rising of people, building up a society) as well as internalized patterns of routinized intracultural behaviour and interaction
  • “resulting tensions and contradictions – e.g. between gendered vs. ethnicized identity markers – are a source for the analysis of currently ongoing processes of collective identification and heterogenization”
  • DIVERSITY: not a summing up of differences, but as a multi-dimensional and multi-perspectivist approach to the study of “lines of difference”
  • INTERSECTIONALITY: focus on discriminatory attitudes and activities and their impact on the identity formation and transformation processes



Dietz, G. (2007). Keyword: Cultural Diversity. A Guide Through the Debate. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, 10(1), 7-30.