Cultural Diversity

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Cultural Diversity
Cultural diversity refers to the wide runge of cultural differences found between and within nations. Cultural diversity between countries may be the result of natural circumstances (such as climate and geography) or social circumstances (such as level of technology and composition of the population). Some nations-such as Sweden-are referred to as homogeneous societies. meaning that they include people who share a common culture and who are typically from similar social, religious, political, and economic backgrounds. By contrast, other nations-including the United State are referred to as heterogeneous societies. meaning that they include people who are dissimilar in regard to social characteristics such as religion, income, or race ethnicity

Immigration contributes to cultural diversity in a society, Throughout its history, the United States  has been a nation of immigrants. Over the past 185 years, more than 60 million “documented” (legal) immigrants have arrived here; innumerable people have also entered the country as undocumented immigrants. Immigration can cause feelings of frustration and hostility, especially in people who feel threatened by the changes that large numbers of immigrants may produce. Often, people are intolerant of those who are different from themselves. When societal tensions rise, people may look for others on whom they can place blame–or single out persons because they are the “other,” the “outsider,” the one who does not “belong:’ Ronald Takaki, an ethnic studies scholar. described his experience of being singled out us an “other”:

1 had flown from San Francisco to Norfolk and was riding in a taxi to my hotel to attend a conference on multiculturalism …. My driver and I chatted about the weather and the tourists …. The rearview mirror reflected a white man in his forties. “How long have you been in this country?” he asked. “All my life,” I replied, wincing, ‘” was born in the United States.” With a strong southern drawl, he remarked: ‘” was wondering because your English is excellent!” Then, as 1 had many times before, I explained: “My grandfather came here from Japan in the 1880s. My family has been here. in Arnerica, for over a hundred years.” He glanced at me III the mirror. Somehow J did not look “American” to him; my eyes and complexion lQoked foreign.  (Takaki, 1993: I)

Have you ever been made to feel like an “outsider”? Each of us receives cultural messages that may make us feel good or bad about ourselves or may give us the perception that we “belong” or “do not belong.” Can people overcome such feelings in a culturally diverse society such as the United States? Some analysts believe it is possible to communicate with others despite differences in race. ethnicity, national origin. age, sexual orientation, religion, social class, occupation, leisure pursuits, regionalism, and so on (see Box 3,2), People who differ from the dominant group may also find reassurance and social support in a subculture or a counterculture,