In a multicultural society, there is not an official (decided by the people in charge) culture that every person must be a part of. Instead, all cultures are respected as much as each other.
In the political philosophy of multiculturalism, ideas are focused on the ways in which societies are either believed to or should, respond to cultural and religious differences.
It is often associated with "identity politics", "the politics of difference", and "the politics of recognition".
Most debates over multiculturalism center around whether or not multiculturalism is the appropriate way to deal with diversity and immigrant integration.
Multiculturalism has been official policy in several Western nations since the 1970s, for reasons that varied from country to country, including the fact that many of the great cities of the Western world are increasingly made up of many cultures.
The Canadian government has often been described as the instigator of multicultural ideology because of its public emphasis on the social importance of immigration. The Canadian Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism is often referred to as the origins of modern political awareness of multiculturalism.
In the Western English-speaking countries, multiculturalism as an official national policy started in Canada in 1971, followed by Australia in 1973 where it is maintained today. It was quickly adopted as official policy by most member-states of the European Union.
Recently, right-of-center governments in several European states – notably the Netherlands and Denmark – have reversed the national policy and returned to an official monoculturalism. A similar reversal is the subject of debate in the United Kingdom, among others, due to evidence of incipient segregation and anxieties over "home-grown" terrorism.
Several heads-of-state or heads-of-government have expressed doubts about the success of multicultural policies: The United Kingdom's ex-Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Australia's ex-prime minister John Howard, Spanish ex-prime minister Jose Maria Aznar and French ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy have voiced concerns about the effectiveness of their multicultural policies for integrating immigrants.
Many nation-states in Africa, Asia, and the Americas are culturally diverse and are 'multicultural' in a descriptive sense. In some, communalism is a major political issue. The policies adopted by these states often have parallels with multiculturalist policies in the Western world, but the historical background is different, and the goal may be a mono-cultural or mono-ethnic nation-building – for instance in the Malaysian government's attempt to create a 'Malaysian race' by 2020.
Images for kids
Multiculturalism Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.