Multiculturalism is an educational, social and political theory that encourages interest in a variety of cultures as opposed to a single mainstream culture. It can be generically defined as something including multiple cultures or as complicated as a deep political philosophy.
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Multiculturalism is the study of the proper way to respond to cultural diversity in terms of economic interests and political power. According to political theorist Bhikhu C. Parekh, rather than use multiculturalism as an umbrella term of overall acceptance and recognition, multiculturalists seek to coexist with a variety of backgrounds, while preserving each individual culture.
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy website, critics believe that cultures overlap each another and, therefore, preserving individual cultures is impossible. For example, political philosopher Brian Barry argued against the tolerance of certain religious practices. Though religious minorities should be accommodated, there should be consequences for criminal actions. To do nothing would permit injustice.
According to the book, "Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives," multicultural education is a movement to reform the educational structure to give minorities the chance to succeed academically. Multiculturalism is a movement to identify the strengths each culture holds and use those to the advantage of the whole. It values diversity, but understands that there is a growing definition of what it means to be multicultural.
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