Responses to diversity are learned and over time become embedded in institutions. Changing the way a society treats diversity involves changing both entrenched habits of mind as well as laws and policies. In other words, creating pluralism requires both “institution work” and “culture work.” The Centre’s thesis is a simple one: division is not preordained — how each society treats diversity is a choice. When societies value rather than fear group-based differences, diversity can become an asset. But for every person to thrive, they must first feel that they belong. The Centre’s new pluralism lens on diversity — forthcoming in a new publication in spring 2018 — provides a framework for fostering the conditions of belonging through pluralism.
Pathways to Pluralism
The Lens starts with the Centre’s “pathways to pluralism” framework. These are sites of decision-making where societies can choose to pursue greater pluralism or make choices that lead to deepening exclusion. They are also sites of effort, where hardware and software choices are implemented and their impacts assessed. The framework is holistic, spanning economic, political, legal and social domains. No single pathway is sufficient to build pluralism. Ongoing investments are needed.
Pluralism is a Process, not a Product
The work of pluralism is never complete. Advancing pluralism requires both hardware and software choices. Constitutions and laws are needed to define a pluralism agenda. Policies and institutions translate these commitments into practice. These kinds of institutional efforts are the hardware of pluralism. But without cultures of compromise fostered by inclusionary thinking and actions — the software of pluralism — pluralism will not be realized. To learn more, click below to read Will Kymlicka’s thematic overview, “The Hardware and Software of Pluralism.”