To Be Or Not To Be Or Problem Of The Multicultural Society

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The multicultural society denotes all the different ethnic groups that coexist in one society. Individuals in a multicultural society can often come across an overwhelming challenge, which is finding their own identity and personal individuality. Finding yourself among millions of different identities may give you superpower. Therefore, self-acceptance and self-recognition are both universal issues existing in every multicultural society. The self-determination phase begins by one-self, as soon as an individual start accepting his or herself along with their heritage and background, the society naturally starts to appreciate this person. This text is about how identity is affected by multiculturalism, and how a diverse society can be a challenge to identity.

Living in such diverse societies often leads to the creation of obstacles under the name “Finding one’s true individuality”. The most fundamental challenge individuals face while adjusting to a multicultural society is the fear of rejection, for this reason, several immigrants tend to distant themselves from societies they live in. This is wrong, but at the same time it could be a solution for avoiding cultural misunderstandings and ethnocentrism. Personality attributions, which are attributions based on the persons behavior, often leads to stereotyping. Generalizing causes prejudices, conflicts and cultural misunderstandings between particular groups; thus, different immigrant groups choose not to adapt and accept the society. In the novel “A concise Chinese-English dictionary for lovers” which is a story about a 22-year-old Chinese language student “Zhuang”, who comes to London for learning English, the girl struggles with understanding all the new norms. In the beginning, her language is very broken, but eventually she learns more about the language and the culture. This novel manages to reflect on the “Fear of rejection” while the main character Zhuang is attempting to adjust the British culture

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However, there is another overwhelming challenge in a diverse society, and this issue embraces pride and dignity. A lot of ethnic groups can be defined as subcultures, which is a group of people within in a culture that separates itself from the parent culture to which it belongs, for maintaining its founding principles and identities. Those groups tend to damage the society because of the fear and despair of influence. Living in a multicultural society may inculcate a fear among individuals or minority groups that they would be deprived from their original ethnic identities, integrity or lifestyle. In addition, being influenced by other cultures or foreign systems, can create a protectionist tendency among citizens. This could possibly lead to social conflicts between the groups and the main society as a consequence of the lack of integration which may cause a rift between the groups. In the movie “East is East” for instance, the main character “George Khan” is portrayed as a proud Pakistani immigrant who is not willing to give up his Pakistani heritage for the British culture. Regardless of his English wife and his English-born children, Khan is focused on raising the children as Pakistanis. This creates uncertainty and skepticism among the children because they simultaneously wish to please both their father and the English culture. Identity can be explained as the sum of all the roles and groups a person has and belongs to, which together create the experience of being a particular and a unique person. Being a part of two societies simultaneously may create an unbalanced cultural affiliation and identity crisis. In other words, individuals feel trapped in the barrier between their own culture and the culture they live in. Multicultural citizens are often required to navigate and regulate the different norms and values related to their multiple cultural identities. This leads to the creation of self-doubt and uncertainty. E.g. in the short story “Everyone talked loudly in Chinatown” the main character “Lin” falls in the barrier between the Chinese and the English culture, while she is trying to live up to the expectations from both cultures.

Adjusting to a new culture while having a foreign background and identity leads to the loss of a person’s true individuality. This dilemma is caused by integration programs which are developing in the multicultural societies. In these programs an individual has the possibility to adapt and comprehend the new society by learning the language and attending activities where they learn about the society they live in. Of course; these programs create better-cooperating societies where it is easier for people to understand and share knowledge with each other. However, the question here is whether these socialization programs are created for a better working society or for utilizing foreign knowledge for the sake of the country. It is argued that a lot of English-speaking countries develop these programs so foreign knowledge and skill would be appropriate. In addition, many countries take away the opportunity of having a job if an individual chose not to attend the integration programs. People are then required to leave their culture and identity behind and start a life based on new and unfamiliar norms and values. Integration programs in Norway for example take away the work opportunity if an individual prefers not to attend socializing programs.

Furthermore, multiculturalism has contributed to the development of globalization, which also is an essential threat to identity. Globalization is a complex interaction between people, technology, financial forces, ideas and media. A prerequisite for the increasing globalization is the technological development, which has made it possible to send information, goods, services and people over longer distances. However, regardless of how globalization have made the world a smaller place, many individuals seem to have lost their identity. Western, especially American norms and values are being transferred to the rest of the world. As a consequence, many ethnic groups have lost their languages, customs and traditions. In Norway, there is a huge debate about how the English language will influence and possibly extinct the Norwegian language in the future. In fact, other countries across the world are in the process of Americanization, where particular cultures are being replaced with American norms and values. Black Friday, Halloween and also brands like Starbucks and McDonald’s are examples supporting this argument.

Being able to hold onto one’s true identity would be recognized as marvelous. The stage of having the courage of adjusting to a new society and simultaneously embracing one’s cultural affiliation, is of course determined by oneself. Belonging to more than just one culture can both be a strength and a weakness. A strength because it is possible to choose the good aspects and elements of each culture, and a weakness because it is not always simple to find your own identity.

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