Multiculturalism: Different Types

Multiculturalism: Different Types

Liberal Multiculturalism

  • Liberal Multiculturalism highlights the importance of individual rights and freedoms within the framework of a culturally diverse society.
  • Represents an extension of liberal theories of justice to include cultural and ethnic minority rights.
  • The focus is on integration rather than assimilation, allowing individuals to retain their unique cultural identities.
  • Prominent liberal multiculturalist Will Kymlicka has argued that providing certain rights and protections to minority cultural groups promotes equality among individuals.
  • However, critics argue that liberal multiculturalism may overlook deeper issues related to cultural and systemic discrimination.

Pluralist Multiculturalism

  • Pluralist Multiculturalism emphasises the value and equality of distinct cultural communities within a society.
  • This perspective may advocate for special rights or protections for minority groups as a way of preserving cultural diversity.
  • Supporters argue that it promotes social justice, democracy, and cooperative interaction between cultural groups.
  • However, critics claim that pluralist multiculturalism can create divisions within society, potentially leading to conflict.

Cosmopolitan Multiculturalism

  • Cosmopolitan Multiculturalism proposes to transcend cultural boundaries, focusing more on individual identities rather than distinct cultural groupings.
  • Encourages individuals to adopt a ‘global citizen’ perspective, appreciating and learning from all cultures.
  • The idea is closely associated with philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, who promotes a universal respect for human rights and global ethical considerations.
  • Critics maintain that it could lead to assimilation and cultural homogenisation, undermining cultural diversity.

Intersecting Multiculturalism

  • Intersecting Multiculturalism recognises the multifaceted identities of individuals that go beyond cultural or ethnic backgrounds.
  • This perspective is concerned with how different social identifiers such as race, gender, class, and sexuality intersect with cultural identities.
  • Advocates of this approach, like professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, argue it reveals the nuances of multicultural societies that are otherwise glossed over.
  • Critics express concern over potential complexities and difficulties in managing a society with so many overlapping identities.


  • Post-multiculturalism has emerged recently as a critique of multiculturalist policies, arguing they often reinforce cultural difference and perpetuate disadvantage.
  • Calls for a focus on shared values, social cohesion, and national identity.
  • This approach has been associated with the political scientist Paul Collier, who suggests multicultural policies may lead to segregation and hinder social integration.
  • Critics of post-multiculturalism argue it may overlook the challenges faced by minorities and marginalised communities, which require special consideration and policies.

These different forms of multiculturalism represent various ways societies can approach cultural diversity. Understanding these nuances can offer valuable insights into the broader concepts and debates surrounding multiculturalism.