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Culture and Equality: An Egalitarian Critique of Multiculturalism

By: Brian Barry


Description

All major western countries today contain groups that differ in their religious beliefs, customary practices or ideas about the right way in which to live. How should public policy respond to this diversity? In this important new work, Brian Barry challenges the currently orthodox answer and develops a powerful restatement of an egalitarian liberalism for the twenty-first century.


Until recently it was assumed without much question that cultural diversity could best be accommodated by leaving cultural minorities free to associate in pursuit of their distinctive ends within the limits imposed by a common framework of laws. This solution is rejected by an influential school of political theorists, among whom some of the best known are William Galston, Will Kymlicka, Bhikhu Parekh, Charles Taylor and Iris Marion Young. According to them, this 'difference-blind' conception of liberal equality fails to deliver either liberty or equal treatment. In its place, they propose that the state should 'recognize' group identities, by granting groups exemptions from certain laws, publicly 'affirming' their value, and by providing them with special privileges or subsidies.


In Culture and Equality, Barry offers an incisive critique of these arguments and suggests that theorists of multiculturism tend to misdiagnose the problems of minority groups. Often, these are not rooted in culture, and multiculturalist policies may actually stand in the way of universalistic measures that would be genuinely beneficial.

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Paperback
Status
Available
Edition
First Edition
ISBN
9780745622286
ISBN10
0745622283
Publication Dates ROW:
Oct 2000
Publication Dates US:
Nov 2000
Publication Dates Aus & NZ:
Oct 2000



Format
229 x 155 mm
8.99 x 6.07 in
Pages
416 pages
E-book
Status
Available
Edition
First Edition
ISBN
9780745665641
ISBN10
0745665640
Publication Dates ROW:
May 2013
Publication Dates US:
May 2013
Publication Dates Aus & NZ:
May 2013


Format
229 x 152 mm
9.02 x 5.98 in
Pages
416 pages

* Exam copies only available to lecturers for whom the book may be suitable as a course text.
Please note: Sales representation and distribution for Polity titles is provided by John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

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Reviews

'Defenders of multiculturalism are called to task by the esteemed political philosopher Brian Barry in this critique of the "politics of difference". Barry argues that multiculturalist policies do not advance the values of liberty and equality but foster strident nationalism by focusing on what divides people at the expense of what unites them...' Audrey Stratham, Scotland on Sunday

'Brian Barry, in [his] recent and controversial work on multiculturalism ... argues that contemporary multicultural practice, which stresses the rights and separateness of ethnic minority and other communities within nation states, harms those governments that are most committed to the provision of greater social justice - the central plank of new Labour.' John Lloyd, New Statesman

'A liberal, Robert Frost wrote, is someone who can't take his own side in an argument. The goal of Culture and Equality is to free liberals of their disabling scruples and in particular those deriving from those currently prevalent ideas that are variously called "multiculturalism" or the politics of "difference" or "recognition" or "identity" ... a defender of liberal principles who seeks confidently to take his own side in an argument must also be on the lookout for ideas and arguments that challenge their basis. Barry meets such challenges with assertion.' Times Literary Supplement

'In this robust, clear-headed and wide-ranging assault on the contemporary multiculturalist debate in political theory Barry takes few prisoners. He exposes much cant, wooly mindedness and confusion. He treads on many toes and makes few apologies, yet this is a deeply serious and important book.' European Sociological Review


'This is one of the most important books that I have read on the question of multiculturalism ... a very well-balanced book and one, which I would hope, will transform the debate about multiculturalism and equality.' Innovation - The European Journal of Social Science Research


'It is a trenchant, robust, vigorously and rigorously argued counterblast in the name of liberal egalitarianism against those, especially fellow egalitarian liberals, who defend the politics of multiculturalism. ... No short review can do full justice to the richness of Barry's book. It combines erudition, unabashed defence of liberalism, a passion for the point of liberal politics, and a finely tuned sensitivity to the idiocies of simple-minded multiculturalist apologetics. There are excellent discussions of, inter alia, education, "culture", the costs of group membership, and the free exercise of religion. David Archard, Contemporary Political Theory

"This is an important and stimulating book that deserves to be pondered deeply." Andrew Wright, Studies in Philosophy and Education

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Table of Contents

Preface viii

Part I Multiculturalism and Equal Treatment

1 Introduction 3

1 Losing Our Way 3

2 The Flight from Enlightenment 9

3 A Brief Overview 17

2 The Strategy of Privatization 19

1 Cultural Diversity 19

2 Privatization and Pluralism 24

3 Equal Treatment 32

4 The Rule-and-Exemption Approach 40

5 A Pragmatic Case for Exemptions 50

6 Culture and Job Discrimination 54

3 The Dynamics of Identity: Assimilation, Acculturation and Difference 63

1 Vive la Difference? 63

2 Liberalism and the 'Ideal of Assimilation' 68

3 Assimilation: Good, Bad or Indifferent? 72

4 Varieties of National Identity 77

5 National Identity in Practice 81

6 The Dodo's Dictum 90

7 The 'Myth of Merit' 98

8 Language and Opportunity 103

Part II Multiculturalism and Groups

4 Theories of Group Rights 112

1 The Concept of a Group Right 112

2 Liberalism and Autonomy 118

3 Liberalism and Diversity 123

4 Cultural Relativism and Toleration 131

5 Outline of a Theory of Group Rights 146

5 Liberal States and Illiberal Religions 155

1 The Claims of Free Association 155

2 An Alternative Approach 162

3 The Limits of Toleration 165

4 In Defence of 'Asymmetry' 169

5 The Amish and the State 176

6 Are Amish Communities Voluntary Associations? 187

6 The Public Stake in the Arts and Education 194

1 The Limits of Laissez-Faire 194

2 Can Liberalism Cope with Children? 199

3 The Locus of Decision-Making 205

4 Functional Education 212

5 Education for Living 221

6 Societal Interests in Education 225

7 Multicultural Education 233

8 Parental Rights in Education 238

Part III Multiculturalism, Universalism and Egalitarianism

7 The Abuse of 'Culture' 252

1 'It's a Part of My Culture' 252

2 Up the Creek in the Black Canoe 258

3 The Equal Value of Cultures 264

4 Does Equal Treatment Require Equal Value? 271

5 The Limits of Conventionalism 279

6 The Limits of Universalism 284

8 The Politics of Multiculturalism 292

1 The Curious Political Success of Multiculturalism 292

2 Multiculturalism versus Democracy 299

3 If Multiculturalism Is the Answer, What Was the Question? 305

4 Culture versus Equality 317

Notes 329

Index 372

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Author Information

Brian Barry is Arnold A. Saltzman Professor, Department of Political Science and Department of Philosophy, Columbia University and Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics.

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