Democracy and Diversity

By:
Dr. Muammer Cetingok
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Throughout history, diversity has been an integral part of most human populations through communal, tribal, social, cultural, and economic encounters and exchanges. Democracy, defined here as the will and power of people to freely govern themselves, however, has been an invention of the "West" and has found its true forms in twentieth century Europe, thus the terms, Western style, liberal, and/or majoritarian democracy. It has brought with it the sheer necessity of individuals living in harmony with one another for society to meet their individual and collective needs. It is at this juncture that the spirit and principles of democracy have required all citizens of such a state/country to be fully aware of its population make-up and diversity dynamics. In those "Western" and "Westernized" states/countries where homogeneous populations are more the norm, democratic principles and dynamics have fared well for its citizens. However, in those states where there is a substantial amount of cultural and ethnic diversity, democracy has been challenged not only as to its ability to meet the citizenship rights and needs of the total population but also as to its favoritism of majority members of the population. The purpose of this paper is to explore the intricate relationship between Western democracy and diversity in human populations of states/ countries. More specifically, the paper will first focus on the conceptualizations of both democracy in liberal and multicultural contexts, and cultural and ethnic diversity as they appear in contemporary literature. Secondly, contradictions between Western style democracies with majoritarian and liberal foundations and the practice of cultural and ethnic diversity as dictated by the principles of social justice and egalitarianism will be highlighted. And, finally, a working "consociational" model of democracy more realistically fitting to the multicultural and multiethnic population characteristics of many states/countries of the contemporary world, both in the Western and Eastern hemispheres, will be presented for further study and consideration by the public and private "civil society" individuals, groups, and organizations (i.e., NGOs) playing key roles in the structuring of political, social, and economic systems for their states and/or countries.


Keywords: Democracy, Diversity
Stream: Globalisation
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Muammer Cetingok

College of Social Work, University of Tennessee
USA

Professor Cetingok is a Turkish-born U.S. citizen. He was a Fulbright fellow, social work educator (30 years) and has been a professor for 14 years. Teaching social welfare policy, macro practice, research, and management courses; conducting research on macro aspects of organ transplantation; publishing and making presentations. Current Activity: Teaching social welfare policy, macro practice, research, and management courses; conducting research on macro aspects of organ transplantation; publishing and making presentations (examples: Cetingok, M. and Rogge, M. (2001). "Turkey's Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP), Environmental Justice, and the Role of Social Work" Social Development Issues, 23(3), 12-17. Cetingok, M., Winsett, R., and Hathaway, D. A Comparative Study of Quality of Life Among the Age Groups of Kidney Transplant Recipients. Progress in Transplantation, 14(1), 33-38.

Ref: D05P0014