Sociology 304

Issues in Modern Sociological Theory

Winter 1998

First Paper - Due February 12, 1998

Select one of the following topics and write a paper of between five and ten double-spaced typewritten pages on the topic. Use at least one reference other than Kymlicka.

1. In Multicultural Citizenship, Kymlicka develops a variety of principles that can be used to analyze the situation of ethnic groups or national minorities. Among these principles are group rights, societal culture, ethnocultural identity, nation or people, internal restrictions and external protections, and integration. Select one of the following groups and write an essay discussing and analyzing the group and its relationships with society as a whole using the concepts and approach developed by Kymlicka. In your paper, also critique the approach of Kymlicka by explaining how his approach may not capture all aspects of the situation of the group you select.

2. In The Globe and Mail of March 15, 1997, a sociologist at the University of Western Ontario, Roderic Beaujot, is quoting as saying that official multiculturalism "has made it difficult to continue discussing the dualistic nature of Canada, and makes it hard to arrive at new arrangements for Quebec. If Quebec can be distinct, I can be distinct." Write a paper explaining how Kymlicka might respond to this. In your paper, critically use the concepts discussed in Multicultural Citizenship.

3. In an editorial column in the February 27, 1997 issue of The Globe and Mail, Jeffrey Simpson notes that the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (released in late 1996) argues that "the commission wants relations between aboriginals and non-aboriginals to rest henceforth on a 'nation-to-nation' basis, sanctified by treaties between the aboriginal nations and Parliament." Write a paper explaining how Kymlicka might respond to this. In your paper, critically use the concepts discussed in Multicultural Citizenship.

4. Multiculturalism tends to have strong supporters and strong critics. Use some of the concepts and analysis from Multicultural Citizenship, and one of the following quotes, to write a paper that discusses some aspects of multiculturalism in Canada.

Simon Fraser University sociologist Ian Angus, in A Border Within: National Identity, Cultural Plurality, and Wilderness (Montreal and Kingston, McGill-Queen's, 1997), p. 154, outlines a defense of multiculturalism as follows:

The politics of multiculturalism suggests a process of identity formation within a context of differences that is not, at least in principle, in competition with a wider national identity common to all. Indeed, one key feature of this national identity that would commend it to the different groups would be its fostering of the retention and development of ethno-cultures.

In contrast, writing about the United States, Peter Lamborn Wilson, in Against Multiculturalism, argues:

Let there be no mistake: multiculturalism is a strategy designed to save "America" as an idea, and as a system of social control. Each of the many cultures that make up the nation are now to be allowed a little measure of self-identity and a few simulacra of autonomy. School textbooks now reflect this strategy, with 1950s illustrations of happy historical whites retouched to include a few blacks, Asians and even Natives. A dozen or so departments of multiculturalism spring up at university level. Each minority must now be treated with "dignity" in the curriculum. Conservatives raise a stink: the Canonical Shibboleths of Western Civilization are in danger! Our children will be forced to study ... black history! This babble on the Right lends multiculturalism an aura of "radical" righteousness and political correctitude, and the Left leaps forward to defend the new paradigm. In the middle according to theory - balance will be restored, and the consensus will function again. The trouble is that the theory itself emanates neither from the Right nor Left nor Center. It emanates from the top. It's a theory of control.

Handed out on January 13, 1998. Last edited on February 3, 1998.

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