19 / 2004
Marina Lukšič-Hacin

Conceptual Dilemmas in Treatises on Multiculturalism and Globalisation

In treatises on multiculturalism and globalisation, we come across numerous conceptual dilemmas and divergences between individual authors. Differences can be linked to various definitions of the both mentioned categories; mostly they are rooted in different understandings of categories, which the concepts of multiculturalism and globalisation cover and comprise. The very notion of globalisation is heterogeneously understood. In treatises on multiculturalism H. Kurthen (1997, 259) defines it as global economic co-dependency, while theorists of the so-called urban sociology (Hočevar, 2000) understand those processes as more heterogeneous and complex. In parallel with the notion of globalisation, simultaneity of individuation is introduced. That standpoint, transferred to the filed of studying of civilisations, leads us to notions as global civilisation, localities, and selective incorporation (Robertson, Rudmetof, 1995; Wilkinson, 1995). For understanding the very notion of multiculturalism, it is in the first place important how notions as culture, society, civilisation, their borders and relations that occur between them (cultural contact vs. conflict) are understood. At the same time, treatises on multiculturalism hide in the background the author’s comprehension of the category of equity. Consequently, we meet with the so-called corporative, liberal and critical use of the term multiculturalism.
Some other notions are by meaning close to multiculturalism: cultural pluralism, interculturalism, and transculturalism. The latter is by its definition strongly approaching the notion selective incorporation of cultural elements, which we find in theories on civilisations.
Taking into consideration treatises on civilisations, we should therefore be speaking of influences of globalisation on civilisations and within them on individual cultures, and of the role of multiculturalism as a possibility that would prevent the growing cultural homogenisation of the world – were in process at all. Namely, some authors expose the dual, ambivalent dynamics of globalisation processes: the increasing uniforming on the one side should on the other open increasing possibilities for alternative forms and actions (individuation). Theories on global civilisation can definitely be included in this approach. Particularly in the last group, global civilisation is linked to economic political nets of power (without cultural elements), and culture is on the level of local. Of similar standpoint, that globalisation is a global economic co-dependency, is H. Kurten (1997). A question thus arises – what relation is established between politics and economy on the one side and culture on the other. How strong is the influence of global economic-political nets on cultural (local) events? In the forefront is above all the question whether those nets have the power to establish cultural homogeneity on a global level, as a detailed insight into history shows that culture is difficult to homogenise even on the level of a (national) state.

Marina Lukšič-Hacin id PhD of Sociology and Political Anthropology, Research Fellow, Head of the Institute for Slovenian Emigration Studies of Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Ljubljana, Slovenia.