Multiculturalism and Social Inclusion: notes from a talk to TASA Melbourne 8 July 2010


TASA:  Migration, Ethnicity and Multiculturalism (MEM) Thematic Group  Melbourne 8 July 2010
(Speakers at Forum: from L, Jenny Semple SEAMRC, VMC chair George Lekakis, SEAMRC workers Neela and Nyadang, and ICD chair UTS Professor Andrew Jakubowicz)

Some thoughts on speaking about Multiculturalism: a recent post
•         I find your efforts to destroy any sense of Australian white identity repulsive and racist. By pandering to “diversity” you are committing cultural racial genocide.  …It is a slow motion soft holocaust. The only way a white person could do this, is if they are either brain damaged, or..if they were a member of a community which does not see itself as part of that community. ie.. the Jewish community.

•         You maintain yourselves in isolation, and seek opportunities of influence.. and then use them (as you are doing) to weaken any sense of identity which might represent a threat to YOUR community. I regard you as an utter racist.. an anti white racist. Whether you see ‘whiteness’ as a social construct or racial one.. the end result of attacking white identity is the same.

•         I urge and encourage you to reverse your “Diversity” emphasis and try a different approach “preserving Australian identity and emphasizing assimilation and integration”   (David Ross June 2010).

•         “Race safety depends upon race discipline, and every unit of society should contribute his or her personal quota…” (Bostock and Nye 1934)

Framing the debate as sociology

•         Argues that “society” is real and social effects have real impacts

•         Understands cultural diversity from a number of different dimensions – Weber’s Ethnic/status groups; Durkeim’s collective consciousness; Marx’s view of culture/ideology as materially-rooted; Milton Gordon’s cultural and structural pluralism;  post-structural identity theories (eg Iris Marion Young, David Theo Goldberg; GhassanHage).

•         Draws on Honneth’s sense of reciprocity of recognition

•         Sociologies of cultural diversity create “multiculturalism” as something in the realm of culture not in realm of “structure”, allowing multiple frames of meaning within socio-economic boundaries.

•         Sociologies of social stratification and social policy create “social inclusion” as a case study in systemic  failure: ie society as a mal-functioning system for the allocation of scarce resources

•         Together they draw on the “culture of poverty” perspective to implicate mal-adaptive behaviour in inter-generational sub-cultural milieu

Applying sociology

•          Cultural pluralism imported into Australia from US/Canadian debates through work of Jerzy Zubzrycki, inflected by studies by Znaniecki of American immigrants and their transformation and Park of contact/conflict/competition; concerned that culture and structure should NOT align

•          Key worry was of an “ethnicised” class/status nexus, thus problem seen to be getting immigrant buy-in to the wider social mores, while ensuring immigrant or ethnic status was not a marker of disadvantage or barrier to mobility

•          Strong “progressive/conservative” commitment to multiculturalism as  demobiliser of class and ethnic based social movements; liberal concern with equality of opportunity; Left concern with racist marginalisation by white unions etc.

Examining multiculturalism

§  Many sets of meanings and everyday behaviours are able to co-exist in open liberal capitalist societies, where market rewards capacity

§  State intervention is necessary to reduce barriers to participation (eg discrimination, qualifications, language acquisition)

§  State intervention is necessary to ensure “social cohesion”, manage conflict, enhance creativity

§  Cosmopolitanism and multilingualism seen as added advantages & benefits of diversity in globalising world

Examining Social Inclusion

§  Locality based interventions reflecting UK and US experiences

§  Shadows of 19th century social eugenics

§  Focused on dysfunctionality of family and neighbourhood

§  Most extreme version is “Intervention”: Foucauldian surveillance through normalisation/ internalisation of social order

§  Seeks to build “social capital” in a lock step of bonding and bridging

Linking Multiculturalism to Social Inclusion

§  Sustained advocacy from critics, to include cultural diversity in social inclusion (board) discourse: initial resistance, even though SIB identified Indigenous priorities

§  By Jan 2010 SIB recognition of refugee and immigrant presence, signalling that racism was important, noting lack of data (after 15 years of conservative denial) Stronger Fairer (??)  Australia

§  People of Australia Report reinforces priority for inclusion of “all Australians” in Inclusion strategies

Human Rights, Multiculturalism & Social Inclusion

§  African Australian human rights links racism directly to social inclusion. Defines cultural maintenance and values as bases for successful social integration. Family health requires cultural affirmation within framework of human rights.

§  Key words in relation to multiculturalism and human rights:

ú  Social Justice (Hawke and Keating era)

ú  Social Cohesion (Howard era)

ú  Social Inclusion (Rudd/Gillard era)

Australian Empire Project

§  Subordinating Indigenous peoples

§  Competing empires: fear of invasion

§  Building a people from diverse populations


5 thoughts on “Multiculturalism and Social Inclusion: notes from a talk to TASA Melbourne 8 July 2010

  1. Heya Andrew, I always find your posts challenging especially when commenting on the development of social justice – social cohesion – social inclusion. It makes me wonder what language is better to use (especially when writing funding submissions which require an element of using language that funders relate to)?

    Nice pic by the way, Jenny Semple is my boss and Neela my colleague at the MRC in Dandenong.

  2. Hi Sarah
    Good to hear from you. Jenny Neela and Nyadang were great; and you raise a good question about language. if its to capture the ear/eye/wallet of funders, then go for the current en vogue term, and push it out a little more. Social Inclusion now “includes” cultural diversity, so a continuing case can be made that addressing socio-economic deprivation must mobilise the cultural frames of reference of the people most affected, and draw on their voices and experiences, so they have some stake in the outcomes of policy.


    1. Thanks Andrew, I pointed Neela to the picture and she was happy to see it.
      How would you suggest does one measure/evaluate social inclusion particularly amongst arts based projects?

  3. Andrew… following on some more thoughts. (I’m rather surprised you actually published my previous comment.. but glad you did)

    One problem with your concept of ‘diversity’ is that it seems to be grounded in an understanding that non white Aussies are by default “marginalized” and further.. disadvantaged. Yet your solution to this perception is to encourage “diveristy”.. which is just one step short of ‘alternative dominance’.

    That can be the only possible understanding of your position unless you are a thoroughgoing racist who happens to believe that only ‘white’ people are likely to cause disadvantage to non whites.

    Does it occur to you that black or Asian or whoever has an identifiable and cherished heritage would be any different if they were ‘dominant’ ?

    If you or anyone DID say such a thing, it would absolutely be ‘racist’ because it would suggest that ‘racist’ ideas are only peculiar to white people. History teaches us one lesson if it teaches us anything… “all” people have pretty much the same outlook on issues of race and culture.

    My experience is that when you ask a white Australian of 2nd generation ‘what race are you’? they reply “Australian”… (Even if they are 100% Irish, English or Scottish) But ask a Chinese…even 2nd generation and they reply “Chinese”.
    There is a lesson in that.
    The simple fact that most ‘white’ Aussies are a mix of various ethnicities is a great thing for inclusion, but people with a strong sense of racial identity are more likely to be clingy with their own and this usually means minorities.

    But the white self consciousness does not neccessarily translate into imposing any disadvantage on minorities.. I used to PREFER minority background people for employment because in contrast to Euro/whites they totally appreciated a job rather than thinking the world owed them a living. I know others who feel and act the same. Rare was the middle aged European/white women who did not think ‘The company should do this that and the other thing’ for their sake.

    All I’m saying is that being a minority member can translate into BETTER job opportunity rather than worse.

    Diversity is ‘division’ and we all know where that leads. It’s called ‘divide and rule’-Woffle on all you like about ‘social capital and social bridgiing.. in the real world you can be sitting at the beach at Rye with 5 people around one minute..and the next be surrounded by a 100 Lebanese who suddenly ‘arrive’. (recent real experience)

    Diversity did not serve us well in Cronulla in 2005

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