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Unit information: The Theory and Politics of Multiculturalism in 2020/21

Unit name The Theory and Politics of Multiculturalism
Unit code SOCIM3026
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Umut Parmaksiz
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


Multiculturalism is a buzz word in policy debates and popular discussions of ethnicity, and there is intense debate over whether political multiculturalism should be promoted or not. This unit will explore why multicultural policy has become important, what kinds of minorities or social formations need to be accommodated and what kinds of policy contexts are important for multiculturalism in different countries. The course will examine sociological evidence for cultural diversity, its linkages with inter-generational socio-economic disadvantage and the normative and pragmatic arguments for and against multiculturalism. Developments in a number of different countries will be examined and the policy areas studied will include education and employment and will be placed in context of current debates about national identity, globalisation and the 'clash of civilisations'. The course will give special attention to the challenge of accommodating Muslims in western Europe and will conclude with a discussion of the current discourse of 'multiculturalism is dead'.


  • To examine the theoretical and political basis for emergent multicultural policies and redefinitions of existing national identities in multicultural terms
  • To examine the character of the different concepts and models of multiculturalism that are prevalent and the specific policies that are being promoted in a number of policy areas

Intended learning outcomes

  • Have an appreciation of the arguments for and against political multicultura lism and why political multiculturalism is becoming significant in a number of countries
  • Have an appreciation of what multiculturalism means in specific policy terms in a number of policy areas in different countries

Teaching details

The unit will be taught through blended learning methods, including a mix of synchronous and asynchronous teaching activities

Assessment Details

The assessment will relate directly to one of more of the learning outcomes specified above in 15 and will be an extended essay of 4000 words (or equivalent) showing an in-depth understanding and integration of key aspects of the unit.

Reading and References

  • Modood, Tariq (2005) Multicultural Politics: Racism, Ethnicity and Muslims in Britain, Edinburgh University Press
  • Kivisto, Peter (2002) Multiculturalism in a Global Society, Blackwell, Oxford.
  • Castles, S. and Miller, M. (2003) The Age of Migration. International Population Movements in the Modern World, London: Macmillan, Third Edition.
  • S May, T Modood and J. Squires (2004) (eds) Ethnicity, Nationalism and Minority Rights, Cambridge University Press, 2004.
  • Parekh, B (2000) Rethinking Multiculturalism: Cultural Diversity and Political Theory, Palgrave.
  • Kymlicka, W. (1995) Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights, Oxford UP.