With increasing mobility in a globalized world

Developments in infrastructure, technology, and mobility, together with globalization, have facilitated the movement of millions of people across the world. Most of these people end up becoming immigrants. As such, there are now culturally diverse communities that are co-habiting in several countries. Over the recent years, studies have been carried out and scholarly works have been published dedicated to investigating the issues of ethnicity and racial diversity amongst societies. Some of the efforts have been focused on learning how the people in these societies relate, taking into consideration the fact that they hail from culturally diverse backgrounds, each with unique traditional aspects. One of the major objectives of these studies has been concerned with understanding how to sustain multiculturalism and mutual co-existence. This paper looks at multiculturalism and ethnicity and makes a comparison of the success and failure of diversity management policies that have been implemented in the United State of America and South Africa.

Ethnic Diversity

Ethnicity is a major social construct that has significant implications across the world. However, it may be a quite tough task to evaluate how people perceive ethnicity and how they subject themselves and those around them to it. In this context, while studying ethnic diversity, scholars have compared data from an array of sources with the objectives of identifying consistencies and inconsistencies across various settings. At the same time, variables have been used to determine the extent and success of ethnic diversity in various countries, such as racial tolerance and acceptability of people from different backgrounds. Conceptions of ethnicity have changed and significantly improved over the past one century. There are a number of issues that have shaped the success and failure of ethnic diversity in many countries, such as the perception of other cultures and the need to integrate societies to foster mutual co-existence amongst their members. In effort to understand this phenomenon better, it is perhaps most significant to revisit the growth of ethnic diversity in the past century.

Major concerns regarding ethnic diversity emerged after the Second World War, when the founders of the United Nations felt that it was crucial to foster international cooperation. This would help nations to achieve peace and respect and make important steps towards regaining global unity after the war. One of the major principles of ethnic diversity, as formulated by the United Nations, is non-discrimination of minorities. Immigrants make up the largest percentage of minorities in many countries in different parts of the world. For instance, the United Nations saw it necessary to implement laws and regulations guiding the treatment of immigrants. There are guidelines for protecting the civil and political rights of immigrants in these countries, which puts emphasis on providing them with a chance to practice their traditions and cultural practices. Besides the United Nations, other international bodies such as the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) have been in the forefront of formulating policies to promote ethnic diversity.


Almost in equal measure, multiculturalism has been synonymous with policy formulation involving communities with diverse backgrounds over the past three decades. The drive for the rapid adoption of this term is characterized by an increasing international concern about the need to address the limitations and weaknesses of the existing policies, which have been formed to adequately promote ethnic relationships. There are three major referents of multiculturalism, which collectively act as guidelines for policy formulation and implementation. These referents are the fundamental elements of the classification of multiculturalism as a concept.

The first referent is a demographic description. It is used when multiculturalism is viewed from the point of view of ethnic and racial diversity with regard to population. The perception postulates that variations in the society due to cultural differences are attributed to structural differentiation of that particular society. Each state has a way of addressing the demographic-descriptive referent of multiculturalism with the aim of formulating policies that promote social inclusiveness and participation through interaction and institutions.

The second referent is programmatic politics. This specifically refers to the manner in which the government policies are designed to respond to managerial issues touching ethnic diversity. Western nations have adequately addressed this referent by recommending multiculturalism as a substitute for bicultural policies, which were not found to be effective in managing cultural diversity. Similar research was conducted in the article critique services .

Finally, the ideological-normative referent is mainly attributed to the political organization of multicultural communities and how representation and public discourse issues are handled. The ideological-normative perspective promotes the human rights of every individual, regardless of their cultural background, and constitutional equity in such societies. The advocates of the ideological-normative perspective of multiculturalism hold the opinion that the minority in the society has to be adequately represented, and that they should be allowed to take part in all administrative and governance procedure as the rest of the members of the society.

By using these analyses of ethnic diversity and multiculturalism, the success or failure of policies that address the cultural diversity of the citizens of USA and South Africa are evaluated.

The Success and Failure in USA and South Africa

One of the most successful countries in terms of addressing diversity is South Africa. South Africa, also known as the ‘rainbow nation’, is home to millions of people with different cultural backgrounds. South Africa’s diversity policies are the ones of the best examples of the ability of states to survive major political changes, without resorting to racial unrest, characterized by violence and mayhem. In 1994, when the government’s regime of the white came to an end, all eyes were on South Africa as the international community observed how the country’s new majority regime would handle cultural diversity issues. There were widespread predictions that the country would plunge into political chaos and civil unrest, given that the Africans had been subjected to unfair treatment by the white minority government for a long time.

As it had been predicted, before the elections were conducted, there were widespread attacks on the coloured, the Indians, the Europeans, and a few sympathizers of the African community. However, Nelson Mandela, who was the obvious winner of the upcoming elections, was able to convince his fellow countrymen to embrace cultural diversity and accept the nation as a “rainbow nation” comprising a number of culturally diverse communities. The incoming regime was able to survive the events that almost lead the country to civil unrest and devise appropriate policies that reduced and minimized the damage. This was a confirmation that defying the logic of injustice and breaking the normative political theories can forge unity in culturally diverse communities. Additionally, the case of South Africa clearly demonstrates that political changes that are associated with incoming regimes can be handled in a manner that can help to embrace cultural diversity.

Therefore, it is important to better review the objectives and ideologies that guide governments into devising politics to carter for diversity, like in the case of South Africa, to ensure that the masses are not misled by the recommendations of the government. It helps to create guidelines addressing representation of the people, their social and economic security. In South Africa, Nelson Mandela ensured that each community’s interest was well guarded. For instance, he continued his government’s support of rugby, the favourite sport amongst the whites, which went a long way towards ensuring that togetherness and tolerance were upheld. Regardless, there are certain shortcomings in diversity management in South Africa, which have equally raised major concern about the country’s diversity policies.

In 2015, South Africa suffered the greatest blow to management of diversity since the end of Apartheid era. This was characterized by widespread xenophobic attacks, which led to the damage worth hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds of lives. These attacks were initiated by feelings of economic insecurity as the indigenous people felt that the immigrants were taking their jobs. The major problem with South African diversity management policies is that there was little done in the development stages to address the way that the nation would handle the changing degrees of involvement of local communities.

This means that the policy has to be reviewed to evaluate its ability to cope with the growing population of immigrants. It is quite clear that the increase in population facilitated by influx of immigrants is most likely to fuel concerns of racism and xenophobia. Additionally, there has been failure of the government to adequately review immigration and refugee policies, which is helpful in assessing the integration policy. Among the issues that have not been addressed is the role of immigrants in the labour market, and how their presence in the country may affect the political, social, and economic organization.

At the same time, the country’s diversity management policies do not adequately provide a platform to deal with perpetrators of actions that demean diversity. Violent xenophobic attacks are fuelled by the fact that perpetrators know that they cannot be prosecuted and that they will be protected by their political leaders. As a matter of fact, some political leaders make statements that incite the indigenous people to “go get what is theirs and leave”. This attitude concerns resources and other valuable assets. Another factor attributed to the failure of cultural diversity in South Africa is the inability of the government institutions to provide citizens with basic services , creating an imbalance between social classes. As a result, indigenous people feel that they are fighting with immigrants for what rightfully belongs to them, and, as such, they should arm themselves and defend their positions. There is a need to create policy initiatives that detail the official adoption of multiculturalism as a model for managing cultural diversity. Within this framework, South African government has failed to create policy directions and initiatives, which, if in place, would have prevented the xenophobic attacks.

Compared to South Africa, the United States of America has its own successes and failures. The United States has enjoyed freedom longer than South Africa. Moreover, the biggest success that the United States achieved in managing diversity was integration of the black Africans into the society, after the abolishment of slavery and a successful freedom struggle against the British. One of the concerns of the American government regarding cultural diversity management was devising policies to address race, ethnicity, and intercultural relations. The government, during the early years of its independence and the post slavery period, engaged the policy makers in working to draw diverse theoretical insights and methodologies to understand the negotiation of ethnicity in the American society. Despite the fact that full integration would not be realized until later years, the government was able to secure the wellbeing of minority communities. This was possible through their adequate representation at the local and national levels and addressing the social and economic prosperity of people.

Equally important, the United States government has been in the forefront of ensuring that the nexus between employment and education, which continue to adversely affect immigrant and ethnic minority populations, is well addressed. Doing this, the government ensures that the department of home affairs and social security treat every citizen, regardless of their ethnic background, equally. The American politicians are voted into office. supporting bills that address inequities and eliminating structural disadvantages that affect minority communities. The United States is one of the countries with the best policies that address affordability and provide access to social services, which is one of the frequent concerns amongst ethnic minorities. Today, the country’s ethnic minorities, such as the Black Americans and Latino immigrants, live without of fear of being subjected to unfair policies.

Just like South Africa did, the United States government ensured that it implemented policies that prevented the society from being affected by racism. Racism, both of institutional and individual kind, is one of the most addressed areas in countries with ethnic and cultural diversity. The United States has successfully engaged the legislature, executive and judiciary branches in ensuring that all races are protected from racism. The country has developed diversity policies in this area, with the primary focus on minority communities who feel that they are being subjected to unfair treatment because of their ethnicity. Additionally, the government has ensured that its officers recognize the need for complimentary policy initiatives to help the nation realize the objective of a unified nation, not divided along the lines of ethnicity.

However, when compared with South Africa, the United States has failed on racial discrimination issues more. Despite the fact that South Africa has recently recorded the worst xenophobic attacks in its history, the country saw more stability than the United States since its independence. There are several major cases of racial discrimination in the United States almost every month. Most of the accusations of racial discrimination in the country are reported to be committed against the Blacks. To a certain extent, the federal governments have failed to issue clear statements on multiculturalism and put emphasis on clear policies for managing ethnic diversity, as far as racism is concerned. The primary objective is to not only maintaining ethnic diversity but also provide provide a meaningful interpretation for individuals from minority and majority ethnic settings to assimilate into the unified society. By doing this, no member of any ethic community would view another from a different ethnic background as inferior. This is a strategy that would help the American citizens embrace ethnic co-existence and do away with racial discrimination. At the same time, increasing the commitment of the authorities towards embracing ethnic co-existence would benefit the entire society and eliminate practices that devalue multiculturalism and diversity.

The key to understanding multiculturalism and diversity is research and comparison of factors and trends influencing cultural diversity in various communities. From the paper, it has been noted that there are a number of successes and failures in cultural diversity policies of various countries. One of the measures of success of policies of cultural diversity is integration and assimilation of members of different ethnic backgrounds and the sustainability of these policies. It has been noted that policies are subject to change in response to dynamic social settings, and, as such, there is a need to constantly revisit and revise these policies as necessary. Also, responding to failures in the policies requires efforts from both the government and citizens as cultural diversity is a multi-faceted phenomenon.


Started by Christina Rosales at May 21, 2020 - 12:17 AM