Multiculturalism and Minority Well-Being in Fourteen European States

Monday, July 14, 2014: 3:45 PM
Room: 313+314
Oral Presentation
Pamela Irving JACKSON , Sociology, Rhode Island College, Providence, RI
Peter DOERSCHLER , Political Science, Bloomsburg University, Bloomsburg, PA
Despite pronouncements of its death by leaders of key European states in 2010, multiculturalism “carries on” (to use the Guardian’s term 9/19/12) in public policies at the national and local level in these same states.  Kymlicka (2012: 6) argues that “[m]ulticulturalism is part of a larger human-rights revolution involving ethnic and racial diversity.”  Using the European Social Survey (2002, 2008, 2010) for fourteen European states with scores on the Banting/Kymlicka Multiculturalism Policy Index (MPI), we operationalize well-being in terms of the Council of Europe’s (2003) specification of the eight key areas of life (cf. Jackson and Doerschler, 2012).  These are employment, housing, health care, nutrition, education, information, culture, and basic public functions (which include equality, anti-discrimination and self-organization) (Jackson and Doerschler, 2012: 1).  Greater well-being of minority populations is seen to result from reductions in disparities and polarizations between them and the majority population (European Parliament, 2007).  Scores for the eight dimensions of multicultural policy development (Banting/Kymlicka, 2012) allow us to consider the effects that specific state policies have on targeted areas of minority well-being.  We furthermore examine the possibility that the situation of majorities also improves when states turn toward multiculturalism because these policies foster economic growth and free up societal resources from security functions.    Do minority group members feel safer in states that have taken a greater turn toward multiculturalism?  Are minorities better educated and more likely to be employed in these states?  Do minorities report greater trust in the political system where multiculturalism has taken hold?  What happens to majority group members’ levels of education, employment and political trust as states implement multicultural policies?  These are the questions on which this paper centers.  With such information, political leaders can defend multicultural policies from criticism or amend them in directions that will better reduce disparities and divisiveness.