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Is Multiculturalism Bad for Social Cohesion and Redistribution?


  • François Levrau,

  • Patrick Loobuyck


Multiculturalism as an official policy strategy has recently come in for significant criticism in a number of Western European countries. A key criticism is that multicultural policies undermine redistribution policies, since they would erode the social cohesion upon which redistribution measures are built. However, empirical research does not univocally confirm this critique. This article explains why this is the case. The first argument is called the integration-recognition paradox. Policies that focus on recognising minority groups may lead to a greater social acceptance of those minorities, and in turn may lead to their feeling more appreciated as participants in society. In a second argument, the authors discuss how multicultural policies could easily be combined with policies that invest in national unity and social cohesion.