Unity in Diversity Essay for Students and Children

500+ words essay on unity in diversity.

Unity in Diversity is a concept that signifies unity among individuals who have certain differences among them. These differences can be on the basis of culture, language, ideology, religion , sect, class, ethnicity, etc. Furthermore, the existence of this concept has been since time immemorial. Since then, it has been used by a variety of political and social organizations to symbolize unity among various persons or communities. People from many cultures, religious beliefs, and social statuses coexisting in peace and love is a prime illustration of “Unity in Diversity.” People have consistently shown this praiseworthy behaviour almost everywhere on Earth . The concept has certainly resulted in the ethical and moral evolution of humanity.

Unity in Diversity Essay

Unity in Diversity

The phrase “Unity in Diversity” refers to harmony and peace. It is employed among various groups to ensure that tolerance is uniform. Caste, creed, race, and nationality are all examples of diversity. Physical, cultural, linguistic, and political differences are also included in unity in diversity.

It educates all humans and living beings to unify and find methods to bond with one another despite their differences. This will create an environment in which individuals can coexist harmoniously. “Unity in Diversity” is a long-standing concept that may be traced back to Western and Eastern traditions.

Unity in Diversity in India

The existence of oneness despite numerous distinctions is the meaning of unity in variety. India is one of the excellent examples one can learn to understand the concept of Unity in diversity. We can clearly observe that people of all religions, creeds, castes, dialects, cultures, lifestyles, dressing sense, faith in God, rituals of worship, and so on coexist peacefully under one roof, i.e. in one country of India. We can never forget the liberation movements led by Indians of all faiths, religions and castes to establish India as an independent country. In India, the struggle for freedom is a magnificent example of unity in diversity.

India is the world’s largest and most populous country, home to people of various religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Christianity, and Parsees, all of which believe in the same Dharma and Karma doctrine. The Indian society is god-fearing by nature, believing in soul purification, reincarnation, salvation, heaven’s luxury, and hell’s punishments. People here celebrate their religious holidays (Holi, Diwali, Eid, Christmas, Good Friday, Mahavir Jayanti, Buddha Jayanti, Ganesh Chaturthi and so on) in a very peaceful manner, without causing harm to other religious people.

In India, Hindi is the mother tongue, but many other dialects and languages are spoken by people of various religions and regions (such as English, Urdu, Sanskrit, Bhojpuri, Bihari, Punjabi, Marathi, Bengali, Odiya, Gujarati, Malayali, Kashmiri, and so on); however, everyone is proud to be a citizen of great India.

The story of India’s unity amid variety is remarkable because it conveys a clear message that the country is more powerful than any religion or community in particular. Around 1.3 billion people live in harmony and contentment. With the world’s second-largest population of numerous ethnic and religious groupings, India is now the most important secular country, with a distinct character of unity in diversity.

Advantages of Unity in Diversity

First of all, following Unity in Diversity implies an interaction between many types of individuals. These individuals will probably have certain differences among them. This would occur also in workplaces, schools, public places, etc. Most noteworthy, working with diverse people provides an opportunity for exposure. Furthermore, this interaction would build up a tolerance in people. Hence, people would respect the opinion of others.

Unity in Diversity certainly enhances the quality of teamwork. This is because of the development of trust and bonding among people. As such the coordination and cooperation becomes very efficient. Consequently, the rate of completion of projects significantly increases.

In the world of business, a new principle is being followed. This principle is to think global and act locally. The reason for using this principle by companies is different social and cultural traditions. This principle is certainly a victory for the concept of Unity in Diversity. Also, more and more companies are doing business in different regions of the World.

The concept of Unity in Diversity is effective in solving various social problems . This is possible as diverse people tend to know each other. Consequently, this increases mutual respect among the people.

Unity in Diversity is very useful for a diverse country. Above all, the concept allows people of different religions, cultures, castes, to live together peacefully. The belief in Unity in Diversity certainly reduces the chances of riots and disturbances.

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Unity in Diversity in Politics

The phrase Unity in Diversity has become a symbol of Canadian multiculturalism. Adélard Godbout, Premier of Quebec, first used this phrase in Canada. Canada certainly is an excellent example of Unity in Diversity. Above all, there is very low racism in Canada. Furthermore, the people of Canada are warm and friendly. They are very welcoming of foreigners in Canada. There are almost no incidents of hate speech and discrimination against foreigners in Canada.

The European Union, in 2000, adopted Unity in Diversity as its official motto. Above all, this was in reference to many diverse Nations of the European Union. This diversity of European Union member states was due to differences in culture. Furthermore, the adoption of Unity in Diversity as a motto shows unity. It shows Europeans have come together irrespective of differences.

India is another brilliant example of Unity in Diversity . In India, people of diverse religions, cultures, castes, sects, etc. have been living together. Furthermore, they have been living together for many centuries. This certainly shows the intense tolerance and unity of the Indian people. Hence, India is a country that perfectly demonstrates Unity in Diversity.

In conclusion, Unity in Diversity is an integral part of ethics and morality. The concept is certainly essential for the future progress of human society. People must display faith in this concept. Above all, they must keep aside feelings of racism , discrimination, and oppression. Without Unity in Diversity, the demise of humanity will certainly happen.

FAQs on Unity in Diversity Essay

Q1 How Unity in Diversity enhances the quality of teamwork?

A1 Unity in Diversity certainly enhances the quality of teamwork. This is because Unity in Diversity causes the development of trust and bonding among people. This ultimately results in significantly increasing the rate of completion of projects.

Q2 Why India is a brilliant example of Unity in Diversity?

A2 India is certainly a brilliant example of Unity in Diversity. This is because India has people of diverse religions, cultures, castes, sects, etc. Above all, these people have been living together peacefully for many centuries.  Within a kilometer, you can discover mosques, temples, churches, and other religious buildings.

Q3. How can one sustain unity in the presence of diversity?

A3 . To keep unity in the variety by accepting other people’s choices, letting others express their opinions, and continually interacting with others without questioning their religion, caste, or financial strength. Unity in diversity can also be preserved by raising knowledge about the value of unity in diversity and incorporating the notion into primary education. Also, through instilling tolerance in all people, regardless of their culture, traditions, or values.

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  • How to Write a Diversity Essay | Tips & Examples

How to Write a Diversity Essay | Tips & Examples

Published on November 1, 2021 by Kirsten Courault . Revised on May 31, 2023.

Table of contents

What is a diversity essay, identify how you will enrich the campus community, share stories about your lived experience, explain how your background or identity has affected your life, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about college application essays.

Diversity essays ask students to highlight an important aspect of their identity, background, culture, experience, viewpoints, beliefs, skills, passions, goals, etc.

Diversity essays can come in many forms. Some scholarships are offered specifically for students who come from an underrepresented background or identity in higher education. At highly competitive schools, supplemental diversity essays require students to address how they will enhance the student body with a unique perspective, identity, or background.

In the Common Application and applications for several other colleges, some main essay prompts ask about how your background, identity, or experience has affected you.

Why schools want a diversity essay

Many universities believe a student body representing different perspectives, beliefs, identities, and backgrounds will enhance the campus learning and community experience.

Admissions officers are interested in hearing about how your unique background, identity, beliefs, culture, or characteristics will enrich the campus community.

Through the diversity essay, admissions officers want students to articulate the following:

  • What makes them different from other applicants
  • Stories related to their background, identity, or experience
  • How their unique lived experience has affected their outlook, activities, and goals

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Think about what aspects of your identity or background make you unique, and choose one that has significantly impacted your life.

For some students, it may be easy to identify what sets them apart from their peers. But if you’re having trouble identifying what makes you different from other applicants, consider your life from an outsider’s perspective. Don’t presume your lived experiences are normal or boring just because you’re used to them.

Some examples of identities or experiences that you might write about include the following:

  • Race/ethnicity
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Nationality
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Immigration background
  • Religion/belief system
  • Place of residence
  • Family circumstances
  • Extracurricular activities related to diversity

Include vulnerable, authentic stories about your lived experiences. Maintain focus on your experience rather than going into too much detail comparing yourself to others or describing their experiences.

Keep the focus on you

Tell a story about how your background, identity, or experience has impacted you. While you can briefly mention another person’s experience to provide context, be sure to keep the essay focused on you. Admissions officers are mostly interested in learning about your lived experience, not anyone else’s.

When I was a baby, my grandmother took me in, even though that meant postponing her retirement and continuing to work full-time at the local hairdresser. Even working every shift she could, she never missed a single school play or soccer game.

She and I had a really special bond, even creating our own special language to leave each other secret notes and messages. She always pushed me to succeed in school, and celebrated every academic achievement like it was worthy of a Nobel Prize. Every month, any leftover tip money she received at work went to a special 509 savings plan for my college education.

When I was in the 10th grade, my grandmother was diagnosed with ALS. We didn’t have health insurance, and what began with quitting soccer eventually led to dropping out of school as her condition worsened. In between her doctor’s appointments, keeping the house tidy, and keeping her comfortable, I took advantage of those few free moments to study for the GED.

In school pictures at Raleigh Elementary School, you could immediately spot me as “that Asian girl.” At lunch, I used to bring leftover fun see noodles, but after my classmates remarked how they smelled disgusting, I begged my mom to make a “regular” lunch of sliced bread, mayonnaise, and deli meat.

Although born and raised in North Carolina, I felt a cultural obligation to learn my “mother tongue” and reconnect with my “homeland.” After two years of all-day Saturday Chinese school, I finally visited Beijing for the first time, expecting I would finally belong. While my face initially assured locals of my Chinese identity, the moment I spoke, my cover was blown. My Chinese was littered with tonal errors, and I was instantly labeled as an “ABC,” American-born Chinese.

I felt culturally homeless.

Speak from your own experience

Highlight your actions, difficulties, and feelings rather than comparing yourself to others. While it may be tempting to write about how you have been more or less fortunate than those around you, keep the focus on you and your unique experiences, as shown below.

I began to despair when the FAFSA website once again filled with red error messages.

I had been at the local library for hours and hadn’t even been able to finish the form, much less the other to-do items for my application.

I am the first person in my family to even consider going to college. My parents work two jobs each, but even then, it’s sometimes very hard to make ends meet. Rather than playing soccer or competing in speech and debate, I help my family by taking care of my younger siblings after school and on the weekends.

“We only speak one language here. Speak proper English!” roared a store owner when I had attempted to buy bread and accidentally used the wrong preposition.

In middle school, I had relentlessly studied English grammar textbooks and received the highest marks.

Leaving Seoul was hard, but living in West Orange, New Jersey was much harder一especially navigating everyday communication with Americans.

After sharing relevant personal stories, make sure to provide insight into how your lived experience has influenced your perspective, activities, and goals. You should also explain how your background led you to apply to this university and why you’re a good fit.

Include your outlook, actions, and goals

Conclude your essay with an insight about how your background or identity has affected your outlook, actions, and goals. You should include specific actions and activities that you have done as a result of your insight.

One night, before the midnight premiere of Avengers: Endgame , I stopped by my best friend Maria’s house. Her mother prepared tamales, churros, and Mexican hot chocolate, packing them all neatly in an Igloo lunch box. As we sat in the line snaking around the AMC theater, I thought back to when Maria and I took salsa classes together and when we belted out Selena’s “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” at karaoke. In that moment, as I munched on a chicken tamale, I realized how much I admired the beauty, complexity, and joy in Maria’s culture but had suppressed and devalued my own.

The following semester, I joined Model UN. Since then, I have learned how to proudly represent other countries and have gained cultural perspectives other than my own. I now understand that all cultures, including my own, are equal. I still struggle with small triggers, like when I go through airport security and feel a suspicious glance toward me, or when I feel self-conscious for bringing kabsa to school lunch. But in the future, I hope to study and work in international relations to continue learning about other cultures and impart a positive impression of Saudi culture to the world.

The smell of the early morning dew and the welcoming whinnies of my family’s horses are some of my most treasured childhood memories. To this day, our farm remains so rural that we do not have broadband access, and we’re too far away from the closest town for the postal service to reach us.

Going to school regularly was always a struggle: between the unceasing demands of the farm and our lack of connectivity, it was hard to keep up with my studies. Despite being a voracious reader, avid amateur chemist, and active participant in the classroom, emergencies and unforeseen events at the farm meant that I had a lot of unexcused absences.

Although it had challenges, my upbringing taught me resilience, the value of hard work, and the importance of family. Staying up all night to watch a foal being born, successfully saving the animals from a minor fire, and finding ways to soothe a nervous mare afraid of thunder have led to an unbreakable family bond.

Our farm is my family’s birthright and our livelihood, and I am eager to learn how to ensure the farm’s financial and technological success for future generations. In college, I am looking forward to joining a chapter of Future Farmers of America and studying agricultural business to carry my family’s legacy forward.

Tailor your answer to the university

After explaining how your identity or background will enrich the university’s existing student body, you can mention the university organizations, groups, or courses in which you’re interested.

Maybe a larger public school setting will allow you to broaden your community, or a small liberal arts college has a specialized program that will give you space to discover your voice and identity. Perhaps this particular university has an active affinity group you’d like to join.

Demonstrating how a university’s specific programs or clubs are relevant to you can show that you’ve done your research and would be a great addition to the university.

At the University of Michigan Engineering, I want to study engineering not only to emulate my mother’s achievements and strength, but also to forge my own path as an engineer with disabilities. I appreciate the University of Michigan’s long-standing dedication to supporting students with disabilities in ways ranging from accessible housing to assistive technology. At the University of Michigan Engineering, I want to receive a top-notch education and use it to inspire others to strive for their best, regardless of their circumstances.

If you want to know more about academic writing , effective communication , or parts of speech , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Academic writing

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  • How to end an email
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  • Hope you are doing well

 Parts of speech

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In addition to your main college essay , some schools and scholarships may ask for a supplementary essay focused on an aspect of your identity or background. This is sometimes called a diversity essay .

Many universities believe a student body composed of different perspectives, beliefs, identities, and backgrounds will enhance the campus learning and community experience.

Admissions officers are interested in hearing about how your unique background, identity, beliefs, culture, or characteristics will enrich the campus community, which is why they assign a diversity essay .

To write an effective diversity essay , include vulnerable, authentic stories about your unique identity, background, or perspective. Provide insight into how your lived experience has influenced your outlook, activities, and goals. If relevant, you should also mention how your background has led you to apply for this university and why you’re a good fit.

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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and the Importance of Belonging: Unity in Diversity

By: Presbyterian Senior Living on April 7th, 2022

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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and the Importance of Belonging: Unity in Diversity

Diversity & Inclusion

Celebrating what makes us all different and unique and the importance of recognizing the positive impact that diversity has within our families, our communities and our workplaces are the foundation of diversity, equity and inclusion.  If we recognize diversity in all aspects, how does this recognition also celebrate the unity we strive for in this space? We hope that this blog will allow everyone to see that unity and diversity are intertwined and makes us richer as we experience both.

What is Unity in Diversity? 

Unity in Diversity 2

Importance of Unity in Diversity

Unity in diversity is essential for any country in the following ways:

For National Integration: Unity in diversity is very important for a country because it is easy to disintegrate people with different views and ideologies. If there is unity among the people despite their differences, it will always be impossible for a force to disintegrate the nation. The unity of citizens plays a significant role in maintaining peace and prosperity in a country.

For Development and Growth:  Unity in diversity plays a vital role in the country's development because a country that is integrated will always move on the path of development. It will face fewer internal issues than a country that is socially unstable and divided on different terms.

For Peaceful Co-Existence:  Diversity can also cause internal conflicts, but unity in diversity plays a significant role in maintaining peaceful co-existence with people with diverse cultures and backgrounds. It helps them stay united despite their disagreements.

The Difference Between Unity and Diversity

  • There is a feeling of togetherness and integration in unity. It is the spirit that holds people together and a bond that signifies a sense of fairness.
  • Unity stands for relations between different groups that bind them into a single unit.
  • Unity can also be defined as the absence of differences between people belonging to diverse classes based on religious, linguistic or racial aspects.
  • Diversity refers to difference or differentiation. It can be defined as the collective differences of groups based on religion, race, language, etc. 
  • It is a diversity of classes and groups living in different regions, with different cultures, traditions and backgrounds.
  • Diversity is a natural phenomenon that helps to bring different views, experiences and acceptance among people.

  A family may have people with different views, interests, or preferences who show their diversity in many aspects, but they demonstrate a sense of unity among them as a family.

Unity is a state of being, while diversity is a state of being separate or different.

Factors That Lead to Unity in Diversity

Geographical Unity : This means unity around the geographical boundaries of the country.

Religious Unity: Means unity among various religious groups, such as Hindu, Muslim, Christian, etc. All these religions have the same principles like kindness, honesty, the value of life, belief in an invisible power, etc.

Language Integration: If there are many languages across the country, having a link language solves the plurality of languages.

Cultural Unity: Means unity among various castes, sub-castes and communities. Despite the vastness, most ancient cultures have unity.

Political Unity: A democratic system of politics that calls for political alliances at all levels.

Emotional Unity: This means that there should be an emotional bond, and they should be close to each other.

Unity in Diversity in the Indian Society

India has been the best example to prove this concept for many years. More than 1,000,650 languages and tongues are spoken in India. People from different religious cultures and traditions live here. They follow different religions of their choice because India is a secular country. Being related to different cultures, languages and religions, people here respect each other and live with a feeling of love and brotherhood. There are about 29 states, and each state has its own culture, tradition and language.  

Despite such a difference, the people of India demonstrate a genuine sense of unity among themselves, which reflects the concept of unity in diversity.

In understanding the concept of Unity in Diversity, we realize that we are all from different cultures, races, religions, genders, social-economic statuses, etc. Unity in diversity teaches us that these differences cannot keep us apart, and we are always better when we are united.  

As we enter into Spring, enjoying the beautiful change in weather, where everything begins to come alive and bloom, you are encouraged to enjoy different festivals, museums, music, food, dance- all of the vibrancies that show our diversity while embracing the unity in enjoying these activities together.      

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cultural unity essay

Unity in Diversity:The Integrative Approach to Intercultural Relations

About the author, hans köchler.

September 2012, No. 3 Vol. XLIX 2012, Dialogue among Civilizations

I n the history of institutionalized relations between states, the preservation of peace and stability has always been a predominant concern—an ideal that is also enunciated in the Preamble to the Charter of the United Nations. The gap between the idea of peace and the reality of tension and conflict, however, has proven to be a major challenge to the world organization ever since its foundation after World War II—and that challenge was not only due to conflicting political and economic interests. Situations of conflict often arise in a complex setting of historical, social, cultural and political interaction between communities; accordingly, they must be dealt with in a multifaceted and integrative manner. In order to "practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours", as the peoples of the United Nations proclaim in the Preamble to the Charter, we first have to understand each other, or appreciate each other's way of life and socio-cultural identity. This is only possible if we are knowledgeable about our distinct cultures, traditions and value systems. This truth is also reflected in the Constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) according to which "ignorance of each other's ways and lives has been a common cause, throughout the history of mankind", of suspicion and mistrust through which their differences have "all too often broken into war".

As an important element of a durable order of peace among nations and peoples, cultural relations have rightly become a preoccupation of modern foreign policy. However, under the conditions of today's global village, with the simultaneity and constant interaction among distant and distinct traditions, social identities and value systems, cultural foreign policy in the conventional diplomatic sense is not enough anymore. With the geopolitical changes that unfolded after the end of the Cold War, and in particular since the fateful events at the beginning of the new millennium, the promotion of intercultural understanding has become more than just an ingredient, as important as it may be, of "peaceful coexistence" among nations. After the end of the bipolar world order, which had divided the world along ideological lines, dialogue among cultures and civilizations has indeed become an existential issue for the international community, a goal which the United Nations General Assembly has identified as such in its resolution in 2001 as the "United Nations Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations"—a decision notably adopted before the events of 11 September of that year.

The new orientation suggested here requires a systemic approach that takes into account the interdependence between the realms of culture, politics and the economy, and makes intercultural relations a defining element of foreign policy, something which the International Progress Organization has been advocating since 1974 in its first international conference on "The Cultural Self-comprehension of Nations". Our concerns were echoed, at the time, in the words of UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim, who, in a special message to the conference, emphasized that there is "no future for mankind unless tolerance and understanding between cultures and nations . become the rule rather than the exception".

In our era of global interconnectedness, the assertion of cultural identity can only be envisioned on the basis of mutual respect and the acceptance of diversity. The conventional, often patronizing and propaganda-like approach in the domain of cultural cooperation, a legacy of the colonial era with its unilateral mindset, has essentially failed in the increasingly multi-polar framework of globalization. A culture can only realize itself and reach a state of maturity if it is able to relate to other cultures and life-worlds in a comprehensive and interactive sense, a process one might also characterize by reference to what we have termed the "dialectics of cultural self-comprehension". The strength of a people or nation indeed depends on the ability to interact with other communities in a complex, multidimensional manner, something that also includes the capacity to see oneself through the eyes of the other. Without such interaction, a community will lack the skills it needs to compete and be successful in today's fast-changing global environment. Dealing with differences in a realistic manner -- neither repulsing "the other" nor denying his being different—is in a nation's well understood self-interest. In that regard, political leaders might take advice from Yale Law School Professor Amy Chua's masterful analysis of the history of empires and how their success depended on an inclusive approach and on tolerance for ethnic, cultural and religious differences.

Along those lines, intercultural dialogue must be than a mere corollary of a state's compartmentalized cultural policy. In order to be credible and sustainable, dialogue must be redefined in a comprehensive and integrative sense. It should cover the entire spectrum of the life of a community, and not only aspects of high culture. If dialogue is to be relevant, it cannot be conducted in an abstract manner—in a kind of l'art pour l'art attitude that isolates issues of cultural and civilizational identity from the realms of politics and the economy.

There are three fundamental maxims that highlight the integrative approach; the first two are also implicit in the Millennium Declaration which the UN General Assembly adopted on 8 September 2000:

  • Dialogue without addressing issues of social justice is artificial and ultimately meaningless.
  • Dialogue without a commitment to peace is a contradiction in itself. In particular, civilizations cannot be allied if the exponents of one civilization wage war against exponents of another civilization. Furthermore, in the twenty-first century, there must be no wars with civilizational undertones. Such conflicts poison the intercultural climate not only globally but at the regional and domestic levels as well, thereby eroding the very foundations of multicultural societies and threatening the long-term stability of states.
  • One cannot preach cultural dialogue internationally and reject the very notion of multiculturalism domestically. Consistency in the implementation of a policy of dialogue is absolutely essential for the integrative approach.

In view of the experiences in the 10 years since the UN initially highlighted the goal of a dialogue among civilizations, a number of practical measures may be considered in the fields of education, politics, diplomacy, sports and tourism that follow from a comprehensive and integrative approach, and that will be required to make dialogue a meaningful and relevant factor of international relations. We can mention here only a few such measures:

In education: under the auspices of UNESCO, the adaptation of domestic curricula and school textbooks to today's multicultural realities should continue in a coordinated manner, and cultural stereotyping should be completely eliminated from national curricula. Educational systems should, as far as possible, reflect the actual diversity in terms of cultures and religions. Wherever possible, studies abroad should be facilitated and integrated into standard curricula by way of academic exchange programmes.

In the field of sports: the transnational dimension of modern mass spectator sports such as football should be properly reflected and made use of in terms of the potential for overcoming a narrow-minded perception of "the other" as adversary. It is strangely inconsistent and totally unacceptable that, while a national team comprises players of different cultures, ethnicities or races, the national fans of that very team indulge in nationalist enemy stereotypes and differences. One cannot be a cosmopolitan in the worldwide engage in chauvinistic acts.

In international tourism: the potential of today's global travel industry, an essential factor of income for many countries especially in the developing world, should be fully used in terms of the opportunity it provides for intercultural encounters and knowledge. In that regard, the impact of certain practices of mass tourism should be carefully assessed—such as exporting one's local conditions to distant places without due consideration of the compatibility of lifestyles. Tourism should not create animosities and nurture mutual prejudices, but should help to overcome them.

In domestic politics: countries whose leaders have begun to question, or even reject outright, the rationale of multiculturalism may find it useful to study the actual experience with multicultural societies in other parts of the world, especially in post-colonial countries. Traditionally monocultural societies in the industrialized world that have become multicultural due to migration and economic globalization can learn from societies in states that were originally established on a multicultural basis. Such an exchange of intercultural experiences could play a constructive role in today's increasingly interconnected world, especially as regards the reduction of tensions within countries. The phasing out of racial, religious or ethnic profiling by immigration authorities will be another important contribution from the domestic side to an integrative approach to intercultural dialogue.

In the field of international law: the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions should be implemented systematically and in all its aspects. It is to be hoped that those major industrialized states that have not yet acceded to or ratified the convention will do so in the near future. According to the integrative approach which we are advocating here, support for a global dialogue among civilizations cannot be delinked from the commitment to interculturality as defined in Article 4(8) of the Convention—in the sense of "existence and equitable interaction of diverse cultures and the possibility of generating shared cultural expressions through dialogue and mutual respect".

In the domain of the internet and new social media: the last decades' rapid development of information technology that has enabled entirely new forms of interactive communication has also transformed, or is about to transform, societies and state systems. One may fairly assume that the interconnectivity and interactivity within today's global information village—not to speak of the wealth of information and educational material that has become available to users almost instantly—will gradually contribute to the normalization of cultural diversity in the eyes of the global public, and foster a more mature and lasting acceptance of differences. One cannot be a cosmopolitan in the worldwide web and a chauvinist at home.

The rationale behind measures to promote intercultural dialogue is that a sustainable order of peace requires a holistic approach that integrates all areas of global interaction, a purpose for which the UN, due to its universal and inclusive character, is ideally suited. In this era of ever increasing interdependence among people, and peoples of distinct cultural and religious identities, dealing with differences has itself become a cultural technique and, more than that, a skill that is indispensable for the prosperity and success of each and every community. The nations that are publicly committed to partnership and dialogue among civilizations must live up to this challenge. They should make clear that no state or people, as influential or powerful as they may be, can use the paradigm of dialogue to justify a strategy or policy of cultural superiority. The threat of culture wars and conflicts due to civilizational exceptionalism must be ended once and for all. The unity of mankind can only be preserved, and peace can only be maintained through the recognition of the diversity of the human race with all that this entails in terms of an integrated policy of economic, social and cultural cooperation.

The UN Chronicle  is not an official record. It is privileged to host senior United Nations officials as well as distinguished contributors from outside the United Nations system whose views are not necessarily those of the United Nations. Similarly, the boundaries and names shown, and the designations used, in maps or articles do not necessarily imply endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations.

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Essay on Unity in Diversity in 100 to 200 Words

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  • Sep 21, 2023

Essay on unity in diversity

If you are a school-going student and searching for a good essay on unity in diversity, then this is the place where you can get some short essays on unity in diversity. Before starting you must be familiar with what is diversity. The phrase Unity in diversity beautifully holds the essence of coexistence. Unity aggregates people belonging to different religions, cultures, ethics , social, economic , and financial backgrounds. Thus, they align together to achieve a common goal. Continue Reading to learn about the significance of unity in diversity!

This Blog Includes:

Short essay on unity in diversity, unity in diversity essay 100 words, significance of unity in diversity.

Also Read: Speech on National Integration

Unity in diversity is a common phrase that correctly defines India. The essay on Unity in Diversity is the most popular topic for school children and students. This essay would help them learn about the importance of unity among people of different cultures and origins and also help them to know how Indian society functions.

Given below are some essays on Unity in diversity with different word limits:

Also Read: Essay on Human Rights

The concept of unity in diversity is from ancient times. People belonging to similar beliefs and communities live with unity. The essence of diversity holds people together due to which people belonging to variable sectors, caste, colour, creeds, languages, and social backgrounds live together. 

The phrase “Unity in Diversity” also referred to as “Anekta m Ekta” was first coined by the first Prime Minister of India after Independence Hon’ble Jawaharlal Nehru in his famous book “The Discovery of India”.

Despite of diversity in India, people here live with love and celebrate various festivals together. All follow the rules laid down by the Constitution of India . To do so, it is important to respect every community and culture and not differentiate people on social terms.

Also Read: Class 8- The Indian Constitution

Unity in Diversity Essay 200 Words

The phenomenon of unity in diversity came from the rich historical times, it is rooted in ancient civilizations. India believes in the concept of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” which means the world is a family. Indians have followed this philosophy for thousands of years and therefore, we welcome guests from all over the world with utmost respect and love. This happens because there is no differentiation between people belonging to different cultures, castes, languages , colours, and backgrounds. Likewise, the Roman Empire also relied on the fundamentals of unity in diversity to maintain peace, harmony, stability, and prosperity among its citizens.

The history of the world reveals that all the great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela followed the principles of unity in diversity to bring about social and political change in the world. 

Unity in Diversity signifies the following:

  • Social Cohesion
  • Economic Growth
  • Global Peace
  • Cultural Enrichment
  • Personal Growth

Thus, Unity in diversity is not just a concept, it is the way of living life, it is the feeling of embracing people around you accepting them as they are, and living without conflicts and discrimination. So, every individual must play their part to contribute to this noble cause either through interactions with others or by making efforts to bridge the divides among people.

Also Read: Revolutions in India

Unity in diversity is a concept that reflects a sense of bonding among individuals who are different from each other in all aspects but they follow the same rule and live in harmony. India is the best example that perfectly signifies unity in diversity.

Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India coined the term “Unity in Diversity”, in his famous book “The Discovery of India”. This phrase signifies the feeling of oneness among the Indians. 

India is called Unity in diversity because, here the people belonging to different cultures, speak variable languages, yet their hearts are connected and they live together in harmony and follow the common rules written in the Constitution of India.

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Unity in Diversity Essay for Students in English [500+ Words]

December 20, 2020 by Sandeep

Essay on Unity in Diversity: The ideology of unity among people with several background differences is referred to as unity in diversity. In a multicultural land like India, differences occur naturally on the grounds of culture, language, religious beliefs, class, traditions and ethnicity. Establishing mutual understanding and universal brotherhood is the main essence of the saying. It teaches us acceptance and tolerance with people having different traits.

Essay on Unity in Diversity 500 Words in English

Below we have provided Unity in Diversity Essay in English, written in easy and simple words for class 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 school students.

India, a nation of many ethnic groups, is a land of countless cultures, a true babel of cultures and various apparel methods. Despite various cultures, religions, and languages, Indian people live with love and fraternity together. High cohesion in diversity gives India an example of a community of culture. Every area of the country presents different customs and traditions, from Jammu and Kashmir to Kanyakumari. The people of India have lived together since ancient times and have accepted all religions and cultures.

Unity in diversity is a characteristic aspect of this beautiful country and brings people together in the bond of humanity and peace. We see people speaking Gujarati in Gujarat, speaking Tamil in Tamil Nadu, Bengali in West Bengal, Marathi in Maharashtra, Odia in Odisha, and so on. Such diversities encourage without difficulty the overall progress of each state. Each state retains its own identity.

Advantages of Unity in Diversity

Belief in faith and cultural influence played an important role in bringing the Indian people together in a unitary bond. Hinduism, which forms the bulk of the Indian population, either absorbed or significantly impacted foreign cultures. Freedom of speech also has India’s most reliable dimension of cohesion in diversity. Twenty-nine states in India have their language and culture. Furthermore, all Indians have solidarity for their nation in this diversity. Diversity can take any shape. It may be ethnicity, caste, class, and colour. Diversity presents us with an opportunity to get to know other races, religions and their festivals.

The distinction is its strength of thought, way of life, faith, and culture, not weakness. They represent a broad spectrum of views, profundity of tolerance and dynamism. Here people may have different, even opposing viewpoints on life, faith, social structure, economic growth, political system, forms of spiritual development and salvation, though at the same time belonging to one country, one nation that is Bharat. Indian culture has always been founded on spiritual and religious ideals. It lays down the unity and power therein.

Cultural continuity, the continuity of way of life and worldview in all parts of the world, transcends the overwhelming diversity of religions and beliefs often bordering on superstition, sorcery and other practices. One may move from one part of the country to another, and in some aspect of life, he will recognize a common thread everywhere that makes him feel at home. This is because, through the ages, the Indian culture has maintained its fundamental character. Recently we have had radical economic and political shifts, but our history stays with us a lot. Our rich cultural heritage has passed from one generation to the next and has been nurtured and refreshed in this cycle.

Fight for Freedom – An Example of Unity in Diversity

The unforgettable struggle for independence was a perfect example of India’s unity in diversity as the entire country was gathered on the same platform with diverse casts and religions. Mahatma Gandhi , Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the leaders of the Indian libertarian movement, used the Unity in Diversity slogan to make the battle for freedom a success.

The tale of India’s unity in diversity is exceptional and sends out a clear message that the country is more potent than any religion or community in particular. About 1.3 billion people live in peace and happiness together. With its second-largest population of various ethnic and religious groups, India is today the most significant secular country with a unique character of unity in diversity.

Unity in Diversity in Politics

We have also experienced disputes and upheavals. Some anti-national and foreign powers seek to undermine the country’s unity by promoting ethnic sentiments and feelings. It has contributed to growing racism, disharmony and lawlessness, as well as protests and killings of innocent civilians and civilians who have been practically terrorised. In fear, as people face threats to their lives, they appear to stick to their socio-religious classes, leading to mistrust of other people’s motives that belong to different religions. Terrorism should not be allowed to lift its ugly head and destroy our fundamental unity. There is also the danger of international violence when a nation is ripped apart by internal conflict.

Government has also started to organise major cultural events in its effort to promote national integration and has developed four regional cultural centres in different parts of the country. Both of these attempts would help fortify the common bond. The unity which binds people together given the diversity of values, ways and religion. Thus, amid numerous social, economic, religious and racial diversities, India remains still a largely unified country; its idea of unity has been a running thread among diverse religions and cultures of the natural world.

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  • Unity in Diversity Essay


Essay on Unity in Diversity

The concept of being united despite many differences is called Unity in Diversity. These differences can be of many types - religious, cultural, caste, creed, language, regional differences, and a host of other such things in society. It is of utmost importance to rise above these differences and remain united. In our childhood, we read the story where the father teaches unity. He shows how one stick is easy to break, while a bunch of sticks is hard to break. We need unity to remain strong at the societal, communal, and national levels.

Sadhguru, in one of his lectures, once said that India is successful to remain largely unharmed despite so many foreign invasions because of its diversity. The foreign enemies could not wrap their heads around how to rule such a diverse country. Their tactic to rule North India did not work in the South. Their clever policies to destroy Western India did not work in the East. As a result, nobody could destroy India as a whole.

Today, India is home to many cultures, religions, castes, and creeds. The same moon that the Hindu women see to break their fasts on Karva Chauth is also seen by the Muslims to break their fasts on the last day of Ramzan. We eat Bengal’s Rasgullas after finishing Hyderabadi Biryani. We dance to Punjabi foot-tapping tunes wherever we may live. India is progressing scientifically, culturally, and spiritually because of this unity.

India got independence in 1947. Despite that, she has grown rapidly. This would not have been possible if India was not united. On one hand, the Punjabis protected the country from Pakistan and China, on the other, Bengal and Bombay proved India’s cultural superiority. When the politicians from central India were busy fending off Chinese and American diplomatic obstacles, then, the Tamil scientist C.V. Raman and the Parsi Physicist Homi Bhaba showed the world that India is not a country to be underestimated. Later with APJ Abdul Kalam’s leadership, India became a Nuclear-armed country and no country dared to cross swords against India ever since.

India is strong because of the combined ideas of people belonging to different cultures, religions, and regions.  If one part of India gets wounded there are other parts to provide bandages. 

The biggest challenge faced by the unity of India is religious enmity. Today there are people in politics, in society, and in our neighbouring countries who want to see chaos because of the religious riots. They all have their agendas. A broken country is easy to destroy. It is also good for vote-bank politics also.

Again, some states want to get separated from India despite so many years passing after independence. These demands are fuelled by both the neighbouring country’s invitation and by the negligence of the political leaders and their failure. 

India is growing not because of any particular group of people - it is growing because of the combined work of the people of Punjab, Sindhu, Gujarat, Maratha, Dravida, Utkala, and Banga. Very often we forget to mention the contribution made by the people of the North East and Kashmir. The apples from Kashmir, the scenic beauty of Kashmir and the North East, the sweet songs are sung by the North Eastern people are all India’s pride. Let us rise above petty politics, let us rise above religious extremism, let us welcome the regional differences. Let us be ONE.

Important Tips To Write An Essay

Make a heading for your writings that is both interesting and relevant. It will help to pique the reader's curiosity and captivate their attention.

It should have a word count of 300 to 500 words. This is the ideal length; however, you may make it longer or shorter by using your creativity.

In your writing, use a clear and straightforward tone. The sentence's flow is disrupted by unneeded complex and difficult terms.

Use appropriate punctuation and spelling instead of making grammatical errors. The reader will be drawn away from the text if this is not done.

Gather your thoughts and create a basic framework before you begin writing the essay. This way, you can ensure that the story moves along smoothly and isn't a jumbled mess.

This is an excellent essay format of the topic compiled by the experts of Vedantu. Log on to this website to find out more about other topics and learn how to compile on your own. Get the best material to study about different essays and become better at essay writing. 


FAQs on Unity in Diversity Essay

1.What do you understand by diversity?

Understanding that each person is unique and appreciating their differences is what diversity entails. These distinctions can be based on race, gender, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. Diversity is more than just accepting differences; it is a set of deliberate behaviours that include:

Understanding and valuing humanity's, civilizations', and natural environment's interconnection.

A mutual appreciation for differences in personality and life experiences.

Recognize that variety comprises not just various ways of being, but also various approaches to comprehending.

Understanding how personal, cultural, and systemic prejudice shapes and benefits certain people while creating and maintaining disadvantages for others.

Creating varied connections so that we can all work together to end bias of any kind.

2.What do you mean by "Unity in Diversity"?

Unity in Diversity is the concept of being together despite many variances. Religious, cultural, caste, faith, language, regional differences, and a variety of other factors in society can all contribute to these variations. We must rise above our disagreements and remain unified. We all remember reading as children a story about a father who teaches his children the value of unity. He demonstrates how one stick is simple to break, but a group of sticks is difficult to break. To remain strong at the societal, communal, and national levels, we need unity. Read this essay and understand the meaning of this topic better. Log on to Vedantu to seek professional mentoring from the top experts online.

3.What are the obstacles in the path to unity?

The greatest challenge to India's unity is religious hatred. People in politics, society, and our neighbouring countries now want to see turmoil as a result of the religious riots. They're all on their schedules. It is simple to destabilize a fractured country. It's also beneficial to vote-bank politics. Despite the passage of time since India's independence, several states still aspire to secede from the country. These demands are fueled by both the invitation from a neighbouring country and the political authorities' carelessness and failure.

4.What is the format for essay writing?


This is your essay's first paragraph. The writer introduces his topic in this section. In the introduction paragraph, you can give a very quick summary of your essay. Some paragraph writing skills may be useful in this situation. It is usually not very long, perhaps 4-6 lines.

The body of your essay is the most important part. The body of your essay is the meat that sits between the introduction and the conclusion. As a result, the essay's most crucial substance will be found here. This does not have to be contained inside a single paragraph. Depending on the content, it may run into two or more paragraphs.

This is the essay's final paragraph. Although a conclusion may just repeat the introduction paragraph, make sure the wording and syntax are distinct. A conclusion is also a good location to wrap up a story or a debate. You might conclude your essay by stating a moral or concluding a story. Make sure your essays are finished with a conclusion and no loose ends.

5. What are the quotes we can use in the essay "unity in diversity"?

These quotations on diversity and togetherness will remind you that we have a lot more in common than we realise.

“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” – J.K. Rowling, ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’

“Unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” – Gwendolyn Brooks

“We cannot be separated in interest or divided in purpose. We stand together until the end.” – Woodrow T. Wilson

“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” – Winston S. Churchill

Cultural Awareness: Understanding and Acceptance Essay

Depending on the context in which it has been used, the term ‘culture’ can mean many different things. In this study, I shall focus on the meaning that is linked to the customs, beliefs and practices of a group of people.

Culture has been defined in different ways by different people. For instance, Brooks Peterson attempts to define culture as “Culture is the relatively stable set of inner values and beliefs generally held by groups of people in countries or regions and the noticeable impact those values and beliefs have on the peoples’ outward behaviors and environment” (Peterson, 2004).

However, to provide an adequate definition for the word ‘culture’, we must include a few things in the definition: language, arts and sciences, thought, religion or spirituality, social activity and interaction. Therefore to define culture, one must highlight the above aspects of an individual’s life. In my opinion, culture is the combination of language, arts, custom, beliefs/ religion or spirituality, thoughts, sciences, social activities and interactions of a group of people.

Multicultural Education

For us to correctly define what ‘multicultural education’ is, we must first determine what the terms ‘multicultural’ and ‘education’ mean. Multicultural refers to the presence of a number of distinct cultures. Education is the process of passing knowledge through a structured learning process.

According to Thomas L. Wells, Multicultural education refers to ‘…an education in which the individual child of whatever origin finds, not mere acceptance or tolerance, but respect and understanding. It is an education in which cultural diversity is seen and used…to enrich the lives of all…in which differences and similarities are used for positive ends. It is an education in which every child has the chance to benefit from the cultural heritage of others as well as his or her own’ (Shapson, 1984).

Multicultural education is, therefore, education which highlights diversities with respect to culture. These diversities are used to create awareness among children in a class setting. In multicultural education, a child learns to appreciate other cultures, as well as their own.

How multicultural education address cultural differences and cultural bias in an educational setting

Multicultural education addresses cultural differences and cultural bias by recognizing these differences and using them to educate students in class. For instance, by celebrating and taking note of holidays and great men and women in different cultures, students are able to learn about other cultures and appreciate their histories (Banks, 2010).

Multicultural education could also be used to eliminate cultural bias by incorporating certain cultural aspects and practices into the learning process. This diversifies the syllabus and enables students to view their cultures as well as other student’s cultures through different perspectives. This promotes understanding which breeds unity (Gargiulo, 2012).

Organizing a day for students to highlight the practices and customs of their culture is also essential in enabling the teacher to understand individual students better. During these ‘culture days’, there should be open class discussions which provide students with the opportunity to talk about their cultures openly. For instance, if in a certain culture maintaining eye contact is frowned upon; the teacher understands it when a student from that culture never maintains eye contact while answering questions in class (Banks, 2007).

To breed further unity in a class setting where different cultures are represented, it is important to ensure that interaction between the students promotes cultural awareness and understanding. For instance, when organizing group discussions, the instructors should ensure that all groups are well represented. The membership of each group should be diverse to promote equality through interaction.

This system of education ensures that learners and teachers alike avoid cultural bias. Teachers are expected to understand that cultural differences directly influence a student’s behavior. Students should not be expected to react and behave in the same ways.

My Preconceptions and how this research has changed them

Prior to this research, I was under the impression that cultural differences were mainly with respect to race and skin color. However, I have now learnt that the differences are diverse, ranging from customs, religion, spiritual beliefs, language etc.

My preconceptions about multicultural education revolved mainly on educating students about their cultural differences. I was also focused on ways in which they should embrace unity and equality and avoid cultural bias. However, form my research, I uncovered that multicultural education is involved in a wider scope of cultural education and awareness. Aside from highlighting cultural differences, multicultural education incorporates these differences into the class setting and provides students with the opportunity to share, explain and celebrate the different aspects of their cultures. My research also helped me discover that students can be useful tools in dissuading cultural bias, and promoting understanding in the class setting. This is duty is not reserved for teachers and educators.

The impact of this new understanding

With this new understanding, I am now able to make use of the various mechanisms available through multicultural education to avoid cultural diversity. I will use this knowledge to try and understand students from different cultures better.

To ensure that no culture bias is bred among my students, I will make sure that, in all group discussions, there is diversity in terms of the cultures represented in each group. This will help breed unity among the students, irrespective of individual backgrounds.

I will also encourage my students to celebrate their cultures as well as other cultures by organizing a day each month for this purpose. On these days, we shall hold open class discussions and students will be given the opportunity to talk freely about their cultures. This will provide an insight into other cultures as well as appreciating one’s own culture.

To further promote cultural understanding, I plan on initiating projects such as asking the students to write papers on a different culture from their own. This will help me understand the students’ perspective on other cultures and whether there are any issues that need to be addressed.

I also intend to celebrate special cultural days and heroes from different cultures. This will enable my students to realize the importance of other cultures, their beliefs as well as their practices. This will ensure that there is no room for cultural discrimination and bias in my classroom.

This study has also helped me realize the impact of cultural diversity on a student’s behavior. It is clear that no two students can be expected to behave the same, not even those who share the same cultural background. This enables me as an instructor to avoid putting pressure on my students to behave in a certain manner.

Banks, J. A. (2007). Educating citizens in a multicultural society (2. ed.). New York: Teachers College Press.

Banks, J. A., & Banks, C. A. (2010). Multicultural education: issues and perspectives (7th ed.). Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.

Gargiulo, R. M. (2012). Special education in contemporary society: an introduction to exceptionality (4th ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.

Peterson, B. (2004). Cultural intelligence: a guide to working with people from other cultures . Yarmouth, Me.: Intercultural Press.

Shapson, S. (1984). Bilingual and multicultural education: Canadian perspectives . Clevedon, Avon: Multilingual Matters.

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IvyPanda. (2022, July 18). Cultural Awareness: Understanding and Acceptance. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cultural-awareness-understanding-and-acceptance-essay/

"Cultural Awareness: Understanding and Acceptance." IvyPanda , 18 July 2022, ivypanda.com/essays/cultural-awareness-understanding-and-acceptance-essay/.

IvyPanda . (2022) 'Cultural Awareness: Understanding and Acceptance'. 18 July.

IvyPanda . 2022. "Cultural Awareness: Understanding and Acceptance." July 18, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cultural-awareness-understanding-and-acceptance-essay/.

1. IvyPanda . "Cultural Awareness: Understanding and Acceptance." July 18, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cultural-awareness-understanding-and-acceptance-essay/.


IvyPanda . "Cultural Awareness: Understanding and Acceptance." July 18, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cultural-awareness-understanding-and-acceptance-essay/.

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Unity in Diversity: The Essence of India’s Composite Culture | Essay Writing for UPSC by Vikash Ranjan Sir | Triumph ias

Table of Contents

India’s Mosaic: A Celebration of Unity in Diversity

(relevant for essay writing for upsc civil services examination).

India, Composite Culture, Unity in Diversity, Religions, Languages, Festivals, Art, Architecture, Historical Evolution

India’s vibrant landscape is dotted with myriad cultures, traditions, and histories. Dive into the mesmerizing mosaic of India’s composite culture and discover how it epitomizes unity in diversity.

The Threads of Time

From the ancient Indus Valley Civilization to modern-day India, the country has imbibed, evolved, and celebrated a myriad of influences, giving birth to its unique identity.

A Symphony of Cultures

Whether it’s the resonating chants from temples, the melodic calls for prayer from mosques, or the harmonious carols from churches, India embraces them all with open arms. Languages, festivals, art – every facet of Indian life reflects its harmonious blend.

Conclusion: A Lesson for the World

In times of global divisiveness, India’s composite culture stands tall as a testament to the strength and beauty of unity in diversity.

To master these intricacies and fare well in the Sociology Optional Syllabus , aspiring sociologists might benefit from guidance by the Best Sociology Optional Teacher and participation in the Best Sociology Optional Coaching . These avenues provide comprehensive assistance, ensuring a solid understanding of sociology’s diverse methodologies and techniques

India, Composite Culture, Unity in Diversity, Religions, Languages, Festivals, Art, Architecture, Historical Evolution.

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  • At the conclusion of each lecture, an assignment will be distributed by Vikash Ranjan Sir for Paper-I & Paper-II coverage.

Study Material:

  • A set of printed booklets will be provided for each topic. These materials are succinct, thoroughly updated, and tailored for examination preparation.
  • A compilation of previous years’ question papers (spanning the last 27 years) will be supplied for answer writing practice.
  • Access to PDF versions of toppers’ answer booklets will be available on our website.
  • Post-course, you will receive two practice workbooks containing a total of 10 sets of mock test papers based on the UPSC format for self-assessment.

Additional Provisions:

  • In the event of missed classes, video lectures will be temporarily available on the online portal for reference.
  • Daily one-on-one doubt resolution sessions with Vikash Ranjan Sir will be organized post-class.

Syllabus of Sociology Optional


  • Modernity and social changes in Europe and emergence of sociology.
  • Scope of the subject and comparison with other social sciences.
  • Sociology and common sense.
  • Science, scientific method and critique.
  • Major theoretical strands of research methodology.
  • Positivism and its critique.
  • Fact value and objectivity.
  • Non- positivist methodologies.
  • Qualitative and quantitative methods.
  • Techniques of data collection.
  • Variables, sampling, hypothesis, reliability and validity.
  • Karl Marx- Historical materialism, mode of production, alienation, class struggle.
  • Emile Durkheim- Division of labour, social fact, suicide, religion and society.
  • Max Weber- Social action, ideal types, authority, bureaucracy, protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism.
  • Talcott Parsons- Social system, pattern variables.
  • Robert K. Merton- Latent and manifest functions, conformity and deviance, reference groups.
  • Mead – Self and identity.
  • Concepts- equality, inequality, hierarchy, exclusion, poverty and deprivation.
  • Theories of social stratification- Structural functionalist theory, Marxist theory, Weberian theory.
  • Dimensions – Social stratification of class, status groups, gender, ethnicity and race.
  • Social mobility- open and closed systems, types of mobility, sources and causes of mobility.
  • Social organization of work in different types of society- slave society, feudal society, industrial /capitalist society
  • Formal and informal organization of work.
  • Labour and society.
  • Sociological theories of power.
  • Power elite, bureaucracy, pressure groups, and political parties.
  • Nation, state, citizenship, democracy, civil society, ideology.
  • Protest, agitation, social movements, collective action, revolution.
  • Sociological theories of religion.
  • Types of religious practices: animism, monism, pluralism, sects, cults.
  • Religion in modern society: religion and science, secularization, religious revivalism, fundamentalism.
  • Family, household, marriage.
  • Types and forms of family.
  • Lineage and descent.
  • Patriarchy and sexual division of labour.
  • Contemporary trends.
  • Sociological theories of social change.
  • Development and dependency.
  • Agents of social change.
  • Education and social change.
  • Science, technology and social change.


Introducing indian society.

  • Indology (GS. Ghurye).
  • Structural functionalism (M N Srinivas).
  • Marxist sociology (A R Desai).
  • Social background of Indian nationalism.
  • Modernization of Indian tradition.
  • Protests and movements during the colonial period.
  • Social reforms.


  • The idea of Indian village and village studies.
  • Agrarian social structure – evolution of land tenure system, land reforms.
  • Perspectives on the study of caste systems: GS Ghurye, M N Srinivas, Louis Dumont, Andre Beteille.
  • Features of caste system.
  • Untouchability – forms and perspectives.
  • Definitional problems.
  • Geographical spread.
  • Colonial policies and tribes.
  • Issues of integration and autonomy.
  • Social Classes in India:
  • Agrarian class structure.
  • Industrial class structure.
  • Middle classes in India.
  • Lineage and descent in India.
  • Types of kinship systems.
  • Family and marriage in India.
  • Household dimensions of the family.
  • Patriarchy, entitlements and sexual division of labour
  • Religious communities in India.
  • Problems of religious minorities.


  • Idea of development planning and mixed economy
  • Constitution, law and social change.
  • Programmes of rural development, Community Development Programme, cooperatives,poverty alleviation schemes
  • Green revolution and social change.
  • Changing modes of production in Indian agriculture.
  • Problems of rural labour, bondage, migration.

3. Industrialization and Urbanisation in India:

  • Evolution of modern industry in India.
  • Growth of urban settlements in India.
  • Working class: structure, growth, class mobilization.
  • Informal sector, child labour
  • Slums and deprivation in urban areas.

4. Politics and Society:

  • Nation, democracy and citizenship.
  • Political parties, pressure groups , social and political elite
  • Regionalism and decentralization of power.
  • Secularization

5. Social Movements in Modern India:

  • Peasants and farmers movements.
  • Women’s movement.
  • Backward classes & Dalit movement.
  • Environmental movements.
  • Ethnicity and Identity movements.

6. Population Dynamics:

  • Population size, growth, composition and distribution
  • Components of population growth: birth, death, migration.
  • Population policy and family planning.
  • Emerging issues: ageing, sex ratios, child and infant mortality, reproductive health.

7. Challenges of Social Transformation:

  • Crisis of development: displacement, environmental problems and sustainability
  • Poverty, deprivation and inequalities.
  • Violence against women.
  • Caste conflicts.
  • Ethnic conflicts, communalism, religious revivalism.
  • Illiteracy and disparities in education.

Best Sociology Optional Coaching, Sociology Optional Syllabus, BEST SOCIOLOGY OPTIONAL TEACHER, SOCIOLOGY OPTIONAL TEACHER

Mr. Vikash Ranjan, arguably the Best Sociology Optional Teacher , has emerged as a versatile genius in teaching and writing books on Sociology & General Studies. His approach to the Sociology Optional Syllabus / Sociology Syllabus is remarkable, and his Sociological Themes and Perspectives are excellent. His teaching aptitude is Simple, Easy and Exam Focused. He is often chosen as the Best Sociology Teacher for Sociology Optional UPSC aspirants.

About Triumph IAS

Innovating Knowledge, Inspiring Success We, at Triumph IAS , pride ourselves on being the best sociology optional coaching platform. We believe that each Individual Aspirant is unique and requires Individual Guidance and Care, hence the need for the Best Sociology Teacher . We prepare students keeping in mind his or her strength and weakness, paying particular attention to the Sociology Optional Syllabus / Sociology Syllabus , which forms a significant part of our Sociology Foundation Course .

Course Features

Every day, the Best Sociology Optional Teacher spends 2 hours with the students, covering each aspect of the Sociology Optional Syllabus / Sociology Syllabus and the Sociology Course . Students are given assignments related to the Topic based on Previous Year Question to ensure they’re ready for the Sociology Optional UPSC examination.

Regular one-on-one interaction & individual counseling for stress management and refinement of strategy for Exam by Vikash Ranjan Sir , the Best Sociology Teacher , is part of the package. We specialize in sociology optional coaching and are hence fully equipped to guide you to your dream space in the civil service final list.

Specialist Guidance of Vikash Ranjan Sir

cultural unity essay

The Best Sociology Teacher helps students to get a complete conceptual understanding of each and every topic of the Sociology Optional Syllabus / Sociology Syllabus , enabling them to attempt any of the questions, be direct or applied, ensuring 300+ Marks in Sociology Optional .

Classrooms Interaction & Participatory Discussion

The Best Sociology Teacher, Vikash Sir , ensures that there’s explanation & DISCUSSION on every topic of the Sociology Optional Syllabus / Sociology Syllabus in the class. The emphasis is not just on teaching but also on understanding, which is why we are known as the Best Sociology Optional Coaching institution.

Preparatory-Study Support

Sociology Optional Syllabus, Sociology Syllabus, Best Sociology Optional Coaching, Sociology Optional Syllabus, BEST SOCIOLOGY OPTIONAL TEACHER, SOCIOLOGY OPTIONAL TEACHER

Online Support System (Oss)

Get access to an online forum for value addition study material, journals, and articles relevant to Sociology on www.triumphias.com . Ask preparation related queries directly to the Best Sociology Teacher , Vikash Sir, via mail or WhatsApp.

Strategic Classroom Preparation

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Comprehensive Study Material

We provide printed booklets of concise, well-researched, exam-ready study material for every unit of the Sociology Optional Syllabus / Sociology Syllabus , making us the Best Sociology Optional Coaching platform.

Why Vikash Ranjan’s Classes for Sociology?

Proper guidance and assistance are required to learn the skill of interlinking current happenings with the conventional topics. VIKASH RANJAN SIR at TRIUMPH IAS guides students according to the Recent Trends of UPSC, making him the Best Sociology Teacher for Sociology Optional UPSC.

At Triumph IAS, the Best Sociology Optional Coaching platform, we not only provide the best study material and applied classes for Sociology for IAS but also conduct regular assignments and class tests to assess candidates’ writing skills and understanding of the subject.

Choose T he Best Sociology Optional Teacher for IAS Preparation?

At the beginning of the journey for Civil Services Examination preparation, many students face a pivotal decision – selecting their optional subject. Questions such as “ which optional subject is the best? ” and “ which optional subject is the most scoring? ” frequently come to mind. Choosing the right optional subject, like choosing the best sociology optional teacher , is a subjective yet vital step that requires a thoughtful decision based on facts. A misstep in this crucial decision can indeed prove disastrous.

Ever since the exam pattern was revamped in 2013, the UPSC has eliminated the need for a second optional subject. Now, candidates have to choose only one optional subject for the UPSC Mains , which has two papers of 250 marks each. One of the compelling choices for many has been the sociology optional. However, it’s strongly advised to decide on your optional subject for mains well ahead of time to get sufficient time to complete the syllabus. After all, most students score similarly in General Studies Papers; it’s the score in the optional subject & essay that contributes significantly to the final selection.

“ A sound strategy does not rely solely on the popular Opinion of toppers or famous YouTubers cum teachers. ”

It requires understanding one’s ability, interest, and the relevance of the subject, not just for the exam but also for life in general. Hence, when selecting the best sociology teacher, one must consider the usefulness of sociology optional coaching in General Studies, Essay, and Personality Test.

The choice of the optional subject should be based on objective criteria, such as the nature, scope, and size of the syllabus, uniformity and stability in the question pattern, relevance of the syllabic content in daily life in society, and the availability of study material and guidance. For example, choosing the best sociology optional coaching can ensure access to top-quality study materials and experienced teachers. Always remember, the approach of the UPSC optional subject differs from your academic studies of subjects. Therefore, before settling for sociology optional , you need to analyze the syllabus, previous years’ pattern, subject requirements (be it ideal, visionary, numerical, conceptual theoretical), and your comfort level with the subject.

This decision marks a critical point in your UPSC – CSE journey , potentially determining your success in a career in IAS/Civil Services. Therefore, it’s crucial to choose wisely, whether it’s the optional subject or the best sociology optional teacher . Always base your decision on accurate facts, and never let your emotional biases guide your choices. After all, the search for the best sociology optional coaching is about finding the perfect fit for your unique academic needs and aspirations.

To master these intricacies and fare well in the Sociology Optional Syllabus , aspiring sociologists might benefit from guidance by the Best Sociology Optional Teacher and participation in the Best Sociology Optional Coaching . These avenues provide comprehensive assistance, ensuring a solid understanding of sociology’s diverse methodologies and techniques. Sociology, Social theory, Best Sociology Optional Teacher, Best Sociology Optional Coaching, Sociology Optional Syllabus. Best Sociology Optional Teacher, Sociology Syllabus, Sociology Optional, Sociology Optional Coaching, Best Sociology Optional Coaching, Best Sociology Teacher, Sociology Course, Sociology Teacher, Sociology Foundation, Sociology Foundation Course, Sociology Optional UPSC, Sociology for IAS,

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Cultural Identity Essay

27 August, 2020

12 minutes read

Author:  Elizabeth Brown

No matter where you study, composing essays of any type and complexity is a critical component in any studying program. Most likely, you have already been assigned the task to write a cultural identity essay, which is an essay that has to do a lot with your personality and cultural background. In essence, writing a cultural identity essay is fundamental for providing the reader with an understanding of who you are and which outlook you have. This may include the topics of religion, traditions, ethnicity, race, and so on. So, what shall you do to compose a winning cultural identity essay?

Cultural Identity

Cultural Identity Paper: Definitions, Goals & Topics 

cultural identity essay example

Before starting off with a cultural identity essay, it is fundamental to uncover what is particular about this type of paper. First and foremost, it will be rather logical to begin with giving a general and straightforward definition of a cultural identity essay. In essence, cultural identity essay implies outlining the role of the culture in defining your outlook, shaping your personality, points of view regarding a multitude of matters, and forming your qualities and beliefs. Given a simpler definition, a cultural identity essay requires you to write about how culture has influenced your personality and yourself in general. So in this kind of essay you as a narrator need to give an understanding of who you are, which strengths you have, and what your solid life position is.

Yet, the goal of a cultural identity essay is not strictly limited to describing who you are and merely outlining your biography. Instead, this type of essay pursues specific objectives, achieving which is a perfect indicator of how high-quality your essay is. Initially, the primary goal implies outlining your cultural focus and why it makes you peculiar. For instance, if you are a french adolescent living in Canada, you may describe what is so special about it: traditions of the community, beliefs, opinions, approaches. Basically, you may talk about the principles of the society as well as its beliefs that made you become the person you are today.

So far, cultural identity is a rather broad topic, so you will likely have a multitude of fascinating ideas for your paper. For instance, some of the most attention-grabbing topics for a personal cultural identity essay are:

  • Memorable traditions of your community
  • A cultural event that has influenced your personality 
  • Influential people in your community
  • Locations and places that tell a lot about your culture and identity

Cultural Identity Essay Structure

As you might have already guessed, composing an essay on cultural identity might turn out to be fascinating but somewhat challenging. Even though the spectrum of topics is rather broad, the question of how to create the most appropriate and appealing structure remains open.

Like any other kind of an academic essay, a cultural identity essay must compose of three parts: introduction, body, and concluding remarks. Let’s take a more detailed look at each of the components:


Starting to write an essay is most likely one of the most time-consuming and mind-challenging procedures. Therefore, you can postpone writing your introduction and approach it right after you finish body paragraphs. Nevertheless, you should think of a suitable topic as well as come up with an explicit thesis. At the beginning of the introduction section, give some hints regarding the matter you are going to discuss. You have to mention your thesis statement after you have briefly guided the reader through the topic. You can also think of indicating some vital information about yourself, which is, of course, relevant to the topic you selected.

Your main body should reveal your ideas and arguments. Most likely, it will consist of 3-5 paragraphs that are more or less equal in size. What you have to keep in mind to compose a sound ‘my cultural identity essay’ is the argumentation. In particular, always remember to reveal an argument and back it up with evidence in each body paragraph. And, of course, try to stick to the topic and make sure that you answer the overall question that you stated in your topic. Besides, always keep your thesis statement in mind: make sure that none of its components is left without your attention and argumentation.


Finally, after you are all finished with body paragraphs and introduction, briefly summarize all the points in your final remarks section. Paraphrase what you have already revealed in the main body, and make sure you logically lead the reader to the overall argument. Indicate your cultural identity once again and draw a bottom line regarding how your culture has influenced your personality.

Best Tips For Writing Cultural Identity Essay

Writing a ‘cultural identity essay about myself’ might be somewhat challenging at first. However, you will no longer struggle if you take a couple of plain tips into consideration. Following the tips below will give you some sound and reasonable cultural identity essay ideas as well as make the writing process much more pleasant:

  • Start off by creating an outline. The reason why most students struggle with creating a cultural identity essay lies behind a weak structure. The best way to organize your ideas and let them flow logically is to come up with a helpful outline. Having a reference to build on is incredibly useful, and it allows your essay to look polished.
  • Remember to write about yourself. The task of a cultural identity essay implies not focusing on your culture per se, but to talk about how it shaped your personality. So, switch your focus to describing who you are and what your attitudes and positions are. 
  • Think of the most fundamental cultural aspects. Needless to say, you first need to come up with a couple of ideas to be based upon in your paper. So, brainstorm all the possible ideas and try to decide which of them deserve the most attention. In essence, try to determine which of the aspects affected your personality the most.
  • Edit and proofread before submitting your paper. Of course, the content and the coherence of your essay’s structure play a crucial role. But the grammatical correctness matters a lot too. Even if you are a native speaker, you may still make accidental errors in the text. To avoid the situation when unintentional mistakes spoil the impression from your essay, always double check your cultural identity essay. 

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Ethical Research Paper Topics

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  • Unity In Diversity Essay

Unity in Diversity Essay

500+ words essay on unity in diversity.

The term “Unity in Diversity” refers to the state of togetherness or oneness in spite of the presence of huge diversity. “Unity in Diversity” is based on the concept where the individual or social differences in physical attributes, skin colour, caste, creed, cultural and religious practices, etc., are not looked upon as a conflict. Instead, these differences are looked upon as varieties that enrich society and the nation as a whole. Unity in diversity is a very important principle because we all live in a diverse world. It is crucial to respect each other and support each other no matter what our culture, background, gender, orientation, or other differences may be. With the help of this ‘Unity in Diversity’ Essay, we will help students understand how we all stand together even though there exist many differences among us. Students can also practise essays on other topics to improve their writing skills.

Unity in Diversity in Indian Society

India is a land of unity in diversity. It is a vast country with numerous variations in races, cultures, languages and even geographical features. In many countries of the world, major geographical features divide international borders, e.g. Nepal and China are separated by the Himalayas. However, in India, we have learned to live in diversity, and our geographical features further solidify this bond. The Punjab region is known for being one of the most potent agricultural lands on earth. The Northern Mountainous region has come across different people and different languages. In the Rajasthan desert, we come across Rajasthani languages and culture, all part of India, yet distinct in their culture and language. To the further south come the people of Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala, and Karnataka, all distinctive languages and cuisines.

India is a plural society. Its unity and diversity characterize it. Despite several foreign invasions, Mughal rule and British rule, the nation’s unity and integrity have been maintained. It is this synthesis that has made India a unique mosaic of cultures. India fought against the British Raj as one unified entity. The existence of diverse languages, religions and cultures, foreign visitors and immigration from other parts of the world have made India’s culture tolerant. The sources of diversity in India may be traced in a variety of ways.

Post-Independent India is a nation united against several odds and obstacles. The idea of the unity of India is inherent in all historical and socio-cultural facts as well as in cultural heritage. India is a secular state, and it has a constitution providing guarantees for people belonging to diverse regions, religions, cultures and languages. It covers people belonging to all socioeconomic strata. The Five Year Plans and several other developmental schemes are geared to uplift the poor and weaker sections of society.

India has been able to project itself as a single territorial unit in the face of physical, political, social and economic contrasts. The Great Plains, which is between the Himalayan ranges on the one hand and Peninsular India on the other has a unifying role. Climatically, the monsoonal rhythm of seasons provides a strong element of uniformity. The concentration of monsoonal rainfall to a few months in a year and the associated agricultural activities occur in India. Many cultural traditions are strongly tied to the monsoons. Saints have spread the message of universal brotherhood, which has helped a great deal in uniting different sections of society in India and making the country a unified nation.

India’s vast diversity is matched by its geographical features and shows the strength of the country. The extraordinary characteristic of India is that in spite of all diversity in different fields-physical, social, linguistic, cultural and religious; there is a fundamental thread of unity.

In India, there are followers of different religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Islam and Christianity. All religions have their sects and sub-divisions. So, there is diversity not only in regard to religious, racial compositions and linguistic distinction but also in patterns of living, occupational pursuits, land tenure systems, lifestyles, inheritance and succession law. Even the practices and rites related to birth, death, marriage and various functions are performed differently by each religion.

In the book “The Discovery of India”, Jawaharlal Nehru says that Indian unity is not something imposed from the outside but rather, “It was something deeper and within its fold, the widest tolerance of belief and custom was practised and every variety acknowledged and even encouraged.” It was Nehru who coined the phrase “Unity in Diversity” to describe India.

We hope this essay on Unity in Diversity must have helped students in improving their writing section. For more study material and the latest updates on CBSE/ICSE/State Board/Competitive exams, keep visiting BYJU’S. Also, download the BYJU’S App for interactive study videos.

Frequently asked Questions on Unity in diversity Essay

Why should students be aware of this ‘unity in diversity’ concept.

It is not only enough for students and children to be aware of unity in diversity but should also practise the same. This is one of the base concepts in our preamble.

Can essay writing preparation be done at the last minute?

Essay writing requires a detailed understanding of the topic concerned and wide knowledge of current affairs. Having a good vocabulary will be an added advantage. It also requires regular practise in structuring paragraphs and arranging ideas logically.

Why is it necessary to practise essay writing questions before the Board exam?

Essay writing requires proper structuring and framing of paragraphs. Also, the continuity of information should be sequential. Therefore, adequate and prior practice in essay writing is essential.

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Home — Essay Samples — Social Issues — Diversity — Unity In Diversity: The Effects Of Cultural Diversity In America


Unity in Diversity: The Effects of Cultural Diversity in America

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Published: Dec 16, 2021

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Democratic societies are often characterized by extensive pluralism of religions, cultures, ethnicities, and worldviews, on the basis of which citizens make claims against their state. Democratic states are additionally characterized by a commitment to treat all citizens equally, and so they require fair and just ways to wade through and respond to these claims. This entry considers cultural claims in particular.

Cultural claims are ubiquitous in political and legal spaces. Not only do individuals and groups both make cultural claims against the state, often for legal or political accommodations, but the state often explains its choices in terms of protecting particular aspects of its culture. This entry will first examine the ways in which “culture” is defined by political and moral philosophers: culture-as-encompassing group, culture-as-social-formation, culture-as-narrative/dialogue, and culture-as-identity. Over the course of this discussion, the “essentialist” challenge will be introduced: an essentialist account of culture is one that treats certain key characteristics of that culture as defining it and correspondingly all of its members must share certain key traits in order to be treated as members (for more, see Phillips 2010). In particular, the entry goes on to note that early conceptions of culture-as-encompassing groups are criticized for being essentialist, and later conceptions are attempts to reformulate culture in ways that avoid the essentialist challenge.

Following an articulation of these main ways of understanding culture, the entry turns to an assessment of distinct (though occasionally overlapping) types of cultural claims that are pressed against the state by minority groups: exemption claims, assistance claims, self-determination claims, recognition claims, preservation claims (and claims against coerced cultural loss), defensive claims in legal settings, and exclusive use claims (claims against cultural appropriation). There are both justifications for, and objections to, these claims, and they often hinge on how “culture” is understood. In many cases, the disputes about the justifiability of these claims hinge on competing understandings of what culture is, and especially, how valuable it is to those who are members, as will be shown below. Finally, the entry will close with an assessment of cases where a majority community makes cultural claims to justify actions, mainly in the context of controlling immigration and, in some cases, refusing entry to potential migrants all together, as well as the cultural demands it makes of those who are admitted, and the range of justifications and objections offered in these cases. This section considers the content of the majority culture, to which newcomers are asked to adhere, as well as how forcibly they can be “asked” to do so.

1.1 Culture-as-encompassing-group

1.2 culture-as-social-formation, 1.3 culture-as-dialogue, 1.4 culture-as-identity (or identity rather than culture), 2.1 exemption rights, 2.2 assistance rights, 2.3 self-determination rights, 2.4 recognition rights, 2.5 cultural preservation rights, 2.6 rights against cultural loss, 2.7 cultural defense rights, 2.8 exclusive cultural use rights (or rights against cultural appropriation), 3.1 cultural continuity and exclusion rights, 3.2 cultural continuity and integration enforcement rights, 4. conclusion, other internet resources, related entries, 1. defining culture.

Defining the term “culture” is very challenging: it has been described as both a “notoriously overbroad concept” (Song 2009: 177) and a “notoriously ambiguous concept” (Eisenberg 2009: 7). It is deployed in multiple ways: as the entry will go on to consider in more length, the term “culture” can refer to the set of norms, practices and values that characterize minority and majority groups, for example by noting that the Hasidic Jewish communities in New York practice a unique “culture”, or by describing Italian or Senegalese culture. But it is also used in other ways, for example, to refer to “bro” culture or “hipster” culture, or the culture of British football fans. Moreover, any one person can be a member of multiple cultures—someone (like this writer!) can be a member of the Canadian culture, the Ottawan culture, the Jewish culture, and the academic culture at the same time. Contextual considerations will explain why the norms, practices, and values that define each of these cultures become relevant at a particular moment. Moreover, only some of these cultures have political and legal relevance; only those that do are the focus of this entry.

In the political and legal spheres, there is widespread disagreement about what culture is , and the next section is focused on elaborating these distinct views of culture. There is however considerable agreement that whatever it is, it matters to people and the meaning and value it provides to the lives of individuals are among the most important reasons, if not the most important ones, to defend and protect it in legal and political spaces. This value is why it is important to attempt to discover what culture is and correspondingly why, and which aspects of it in particular, should or should not be protected in the public sphere. Notice that the observation that cultures are valuable to people, and indeed that they bring value to the lives of individuals, is not the same as saying that individual cultural practices are all good. Any defensible account of culture must take seriously the importance of culture in general without defending all of its instantiations. There are four main ways in which culture has been interpreted: as an encompassing group, as social formation, in dialogic terms, and in identity terms.

One way to think about culture is as a kind of all-encompassing whole, which shapes all or most dimensions of our lives. It is perhaps Will Kymlicka’s formulation of a “societal culture” that is most responsible for generating serious reflection on the nature of culture understood in this way. A societal culture

provides its members with meaningful ways of life across the full range of human activities, including social, educational, religious, recreational and economic life, encompassing both public and private spheres. (Kymlicka 1996: 76)

Kymlicka explains that a vibrant societal culture provides a “context for choice”, i.e., it provides the resources that individuals rely on to make sense of their world and the choices it offers. On this account, nation-states are well-described as having a societal culture, as are Indigenous groups and sub-state national minority groups (for example, the Catalans or the Tibetans); immigrant groups which sustain a range of cultural practices and norms even as they integrate into a larger “societal culture” are not.

Kymlicka is not alone in offering an encompassing account of culture. Michael Walzer too offers such an account, proposing that we understand political communities as “communities of character”, in which members are bound by a “world of common meanings” (Walzer 1983: 28). Avishai Margalit and Joseph Raz also describe so-called “encompassing” groups, in which their members

find in them a culture which shapes to a large degree their tastes and opportunities, and which provides an anchor for their self-identification and the safety of effortless secure belonging. (Margalit & Raz 1990: 448)

Avishai Margalit and Moshe Halbertal say of an encompassing group that its culture “covers various important aspects of life”, and in so saying, they offer as an example the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish culture:

it defines people’s activities (such as Torah study in Ultra-Orthodox culture), determines occupation (such as circumciser), and defines important relationships (such as marriage). It affects everything people do: cooking, architectural style, common language, literary and artistic traditions, music, customs, dress, festivals, ceremonies…the culture influences its members’ taste, the types of options they have and the meaning of these options, and the characteristics they consider significant in their evaluation of themselves and others. (Margalit & Halbertal 1994: 498)

Whereas Kymlicka emphasizes the freedom that is offered by a robust societal culture, Margalit and Halbertal speak of its role in securing members’ “personality identity” (Margalit & Halbertal 1994: 502) and Walzer of its importance in shaping a “collective consciousness”. Although these scholars justify the protection of a robust culture for many reasons, they agree that what culture does, fundamentally, is offer a background value system that helps members select among options and interpret their value, including for example with respect to certain forms of employment, or education, or family structure and child-rearing. Walzer captures the way in which culture informs how even the most basic of things are understood:

a single necessary good, and one that is always necessary—food, for example—carries different meanings in different places. Bread is the staff of life, the body of Christ, the symbol of the Sabbath, the means of hospitality, and so on. (Walzer 1983: 8)

Much is illuminated by these accounts of culture, including especially why depleted societal cultures may be less able to provide the context for choice that Kymlicka emphasizes, or why one’s “personality identity” may thereby be threatened: if a cultural group’s educational, political, or economic systems are weakened, their capacity to support members to make sense of the world, and choose among options, is likewise weakened. Moreover, this account illustrates the wrong of undermining the cultures of others: if a culture is undermined, the choices available to its members are thereby reduced. We can see this with respect to Indigenous culture in many states: where states have actively attempted to erase Indigenous culture, the result has been severe social dislocation and alienation among Indigenous peoples whose context for choice has been substantially weakened.

However, multiple objections have been launched at this way of understanding culture, most of which are variants on what is termed the “essentialist” objection; notice, though, that the views described above are not believed by their holders to be essentialist. The essentialist objection targets what it sees as an assumption that members of a culture will hold the same set of practices, norms, and values to be important, and in the same measure. But, say critics, this assumption does not hold: in any actual culture, members will be differently committed to its defining practices and norms, and indeed, there will necessarily be disagreement around which of its practices and norms are defining in the first place. The essentialist objection says, roughly, that treating culture as encompassing wrongly does one of the following things: 1) it proclaims that certain features of a culture are at its core and therefore immutable, on pain of dissolving the culture (Eisenberg 2009: 120), and correspondingly that cultures are necessarily bounded and determinate rather than contested and fluid (Moore 2019; Patten 2014: 38); 2) having identified these features as at a culture’s core, it excludes those who believe themselves to be members but do not  conform to, display, or respect these features (Parvin 2008: 318–19); and, 3) it ignores the reality that most people in a liberal society “draw their identity from a multiplicity of roles and communities and memberships at any one time” (Parvin 2008: 321), which can variously have social salience, depending on the context, both independently of, and sometimes in conjunction with, cultural identities (Moore 2019). In summary, a too-encompassing account of what culture is for its members runs the risk of treating the boundaries of a culture as if they are determinate, unshifting, and as though its members display no variance (and perhaps cannot display variance) in their commitment to the culture as a whole and its defining practices.

The alternative accounts of culture that are considered below are all, at least in part, intended to respond to the essentialist challenge; their objective is, in other words, to generate a plausible account of what culture is , and correspondingly what it means to be a member of a particular cultural group, that can be deployed to make sense of legal and political controversies, and ideally adjudicate among them, without succumbing to the essentialist challenge. A caveat: the views of culture treated below should be understood as “ideal types”, characterized so as to understand its key features, how it is differentiated from other views, and why it does not fall victim (in its own estimation) to the essentialist challenge.

One attempt to reconceive culture in a way that responds to the essentialist challenge, but which retains a view of culture as largely encompassing, proposes that cultures are defined by their members’ shared experience of social formation (Patten 2014: 39). On this “social lineage” account of culture, what makes a culture is that its members are subject to a “set of formative conditions that are distinct from the formative conditions that are imposed on others” (Patten 2014: 51). The experience of being subjected to common institutions, understood broadly to include shared educational spaces, languages, media, as well as shared historical traditions and stories, overlapping familial structures, and so on, shapes a sense among cultural group members that they share a distinct way of seeing the world, and that certain assumptions that they possess are shared by, or at least understood by, others. This view emphasizes a culture’s historical trajectory, but does not require that its defining norms, values and practices are unchanging over time. On the contrary,

internal variation is possible because subjection to a common set of formative influences does not imply that people will end up with a homogeneous set of beliefs or values. (Patten 2014: 52)

As a result, cultures are sites in which members can contest and deliberate their meaning with enough shared assumptions about the way the world works that they can recognize each other as engaged in the same project.

Patten writes of the institutions to which cultural group members are subject that they are at least to some degree “isolated from the institutions and practices that work to socialize outsiders” (Patten 2014: 52), and thus serve to distinguish one culture from another. On this view, significant emphasis is placed on who is controlling the levers of the institutions that shape members’ formation: that is, it matters that members are in control of the institutions to which they, themselves, are subject, so that they can plausibly shape their own social experience, and the experience of younger members, in fundamental ways. Where the control over this social formation is denied, a culture’s members are thereby harmed; when it is coercively denied, there is very likely an injustice demanding remedy.

By focusing on the shared experience of subjection to common cultural institutions, this account avoids the accusation that what defines a culture is the stability of its basic norms and values over time: culture is not, on this view, a static entity. Instead, what matters is that cultural group members believe themselves to be members of a cultural group, and that this belief’s foundation is in the experience of common cultural institutions, rather than in the specific practices that are central to the group. These central practices can change fundamentally, without the cultural group itself dissolving. However, this view is subject to criticism by scholars who worry that those who control the levers of formation do not represent the views of all members (Phillips 2018), that instead they are using their relative positions of power to create and enforce cultural norms and practices that do not command (or would not command, without coercion) widespread agreement.

The latter objection—that a so-called culture is the product of some but not all of its members leads some scholars to rearticulate culture in terms of the ways in which it is constructed via dialogue among members and their engagement with each other. The purpose of emphasizing that a culture’s members are the source of its main practices, values and norms, is to emphasize that a culture is not “given” to its members from above, as a fixed and unalterable entity. Rather, members of a culture are, in a fundamental way, its authors. Here is James Tully explaining this: cultures are

continuously contested, imagined and reimagined, transformed and negotiated, both by their members and through their interactions with others. (Tully 1995: 11)

Seyla Benhabib similarly emphasizes the narrative aspect of cultures, noting that insiders

experience their traditions, stories, rituals and symbols, tools, and material living conditions through shared, albeit contested and contestable, narrative accounts. (Benhabib 2002: 5)

That there is contestation among members, and that its main elements are under constant negotiation, does not render a culture any less meaningful for its members. What may seem confusing is the idea that a contestable and constantly shifting culture warrants protection; perhaps protection means artificially halting the natural changes that a culture would undergo, by protecting elements of it at a moment in time. But defenders of this view demand protection in the form of ensuring that the forums in which culture is negotiated, shared and transmitted, are sustained in robust and inclusive ways, and without unwanted interference by forces external to the culture. As with the culture-as-formation account, the emphasis is on the capacity of group members to shape the norms and practices that are central, rather than with the norms and practices themselves.

How does this view respond to the worry about asymmetrical power distribution within a cultural group? Focusing on the ways in which a culture’s central characteristics are determined via negotiation among members is an attempt to be attentive to the power structures that shape whose voice is heard during these negotiations, in minority and majority cultures (Dhamoon 2006). In many, and indeed perhaps in most, cultures, historically the dominant voices have been male, and one impact of that has generally been a gendered view of the how best to organize cultural life, that has reduced the rights of women (and other minorities) in myriad ways, often to their disadvantage as well as against their will. For some, the oppression of less powerful members by those who hold the levers of power generates at least partial skepticism about the value of protecting or accommodating culture in liberal, democratic states, especially in cases where it may seem that “multiculturalism is bad for women” (Okin 1999). On this view, cultural practices that undermine the rights of women (and other minorities) should not be tolerated in liberal democratic states.

The recognition that many cultural practices are disadvantageous to women (and other minorities) does not propel all political theorists to adopt a skeptical attitude towards them in all cases. For some, it is an opportunity to see that cultures can be valued even by those who are putatively oppressed, even as they work from the inside to influence the direction of their culture, towards less oppressive norms and practices. For example, although often sidelined from their centres of power, many women value their cultures in ways that press them not to exit, but rather to engage in processes of reforming inegalitarian practices and norms, from within (Deveaux 2007). This way of thinking about culture and its contents celebrates, and encourages, moves to “democratize” the mechanisms by which a cultural group’s main norms, values and practices are adopted, and defends public cultures that are genuinely open to multiple voices (Lenard 2012).

This narrative or dialogic account of culture thus responds well to the essentialist challenge, by denying that the defining features of a culture must be static and equally valuable to all members of a cultural group. But, it must respond to another challenge, namely, the individuation challenge (Moore 2019). If an account of culture is going to be robust enough to define the entities that should be entitled to additional political and legal consideration in various ways, including with respect to additional rights protections or exemptions from certain legal and political requirements, it must also be able to identify with some specificity the boundaries of a particular, discrete, culture and who legitimately counts as a member for the purposes of respecting the political and legal claims made as a result. But this can be a challenge to accomplish.

To see why, consider Benhabib’s account of the ways in which cultures are observed from the outside, and the way they are experienced from the inside. The observer is largely responsible, she says, for imposing “unity and coherence on cultures”, whereas from the inside, its participants

One effect of understanding the culture in this way is that while many of its members will hold deeply to the central values and take deep satisfaction in participating in the central cultural traditions, many others will dip in and out of its central practices, and pick and choose among its central values and norms. So, just who counts as a member is blurry, and this blurriness may appear to be a problem when membership is said to confer rights and privileges that are not available to non-members. There is an inevitable tension between the need to individuate cultures for political reasons and the boundaries of cultures which are inevitably poorly demarcated. Only context will enable us to resolve the political questions that will thereby emerge.

To answer the challenge of how to identify a culture, and its members, one proposal focuses on the subjective component associated with belonging to a cultural group. Take this example, described by Margaret Moore: although there is deep division in Northern Ireland between Catholics and Protestants, the differences are neither religious (the conflict is not about distinctive interpretations of a religious text, and religious figures are not targeted for violence), nor cultural, since surveys of cultural values of both communities reveal considerable overlap among the values that competing communities hold (Moore 1999: 35). She says, rather, a focus on shared identities among rival groups makes more sense of the conflict.  A largely or partly identity-focused view highlights that one key dimension of culture is the way in which it shapes the identity of cultural group members. As well, such a view highlights that culture is a thing to which many people will have important connections, but which will be defining for them in multiple and distinct ways. An identity-focused view has clear merits: for example, it can explain why individuals remain nominally attached to a culture, even though its centrally defining features shift historically over time, and even if they do not engage with some of its more traditional aspects.

Additionally, an identity-focused view can accommodate identities that are not obviously culturally based, for example, including LGBTQ+ identities (Eisenberg 2009: 20; for a discussion of cultural/identity claims in an LGBTQ+ context, see Ghosh 2018: chapter 4). Indeed, an identity-focused view aims to circumvent the difficulty of identifying what specific material is legitimately cultural material. As noted above, scholars of minority cultures frequently note that there is a wide variety of claims made by a wide variety of groups, and these groups are defined by an assortment of distinct characteristics, including race, ethnicity, religion and sexuality. Say its defenders, a focus on identity rather than culture may be preferable because

the term identity covers more ground in the sense that it can refer to religious, linguistic, gendered, Indigenous and other dimensions of self-understanding. (Eisenberg 2009: 2)

2. Minority Cultural Rights Claims

The four views of culture described above inform the cultural claims that both individuals and groups make against the state. The specific threats that individuals and groups face, and which demand a kind of protection, are distinct, as are the responses that states may have in response to the claims made by individuals and groups (Eisenberg 2009: 20–21). In some cases, claims are made for accommodations for all members of a group qua group; in others, claims are made with respect to particular individuals; and there may well be connection among these. For example, a group may demand language protection policies, or an individual may claim a right to speak her mother tongue in legal proceedings. These rights are related to each other, and may be in some cases derived from one another: one reason an individual has a right to speak her mother tongue in legal proceedings may be because the state has recognized her language as an official language either of the state, or of a sub-state jurisdiction, for example. As a matter of accommodation , it will be important in what follows to notice when claims are made for accommodations that apply to individuals and when they are accommodations that apply to groups; although some philosophers are keen to assess whether cultural rights are best understood as individual or group rights (Casals 2006), the analysis below proceeds by assuming that they can be both (following Levy 2000: 125).

Notice as well that the term “accommodation” is a kind of catch-all to include the wide range of claims an individual or group can make against a state on the basis of culture. Political philosophers have attempted to distinguish among these claims in myriad ways, in order to make sense of them. Many such rights are claimed by immigrant groups (typically) to a state, who require certain accommodations from the state in order to better integrate into that state. In the larger debate around the value of multiculturalism, there is considerable discussion about which sorts of accommodations encourage the integration of, especially, culturally distinct newcomers, and which sorts permit or even encourage their separation from the larger society (e.g., Sniderman & Hagendoorn 2007). Some scholars worry, as well, that a focus on how best to accommodate cultural minority groups travels with ignoring (perhaps wilfully) more important questions of redistribution to those who are less well off (Barry 2001; Fraser 1995). In general, however, multicultural theorists agree that accommodation rights are most defensible when they support the integration of minorities in general, and newcomers in particular, as well as when they are aimed at remedying persistent inequalities between majority and minority groups.

It is worth noting that not everyone readily agrees that “culture” should be treated as a source of distinct legal and political claims, however. For example, Sarah Song points out that so-called “multicultural” claims are often in fact claims to accommodate a wide range of groups, including racial, religious and ethnic groups. Many political theorists of cultural rights appear to believe that there are distinct and recognizable cultural groups, making distinctive cultural claims, whereas in their example-giving they rely on a “wide range of examples involving religion, language, ethnicity, nationality, and race” (Song 2009: 177). Rarely is “culture” alone the basis for a claim against a state. Rather, says Song, so-called cultural claims are in fact often demands for other well-understood and defensible democratic goods. Most such demands are for religious accommodations, well-defended by standard liberal defenses of freedom of conscience; others are demands for reparations for past and ongoing wrong, in the form of affirmative action; others yet are demands for democratic inclusion, often rooted in a morally problematic history of deliberate exclusion. Once the reasons for these “cultural” demands are revealed clearly, we will often find democratically defensible reasons to respect and accommodate them, without needing to resort to relying on culture as a distinct entity, giving rise to a distinct set of rights-claims. The result is that the controversy associated with properly defining cultures and identifying their members can be avoided in many instances. However, this analysis can make it difficult to treat cases where something called “culture” interacts with, or supplements, religious, ethnic, and racial claims.

Take the case of the choice, made by referendum, to ban minarets on mosques in Switzerland. The defensibility of the ban has been the subject of deliberation among political philosophers, and one key point of contention has been whether and to what extent minarets are religiously required by Islam. Many interpreters propose that, since minarets are not obligatory according to Islamic religious requirements, the choice to ban them is regrettable (because of what it says about the public place of Islam in Switzerland), but it does not violate the religious freedom of practising Muslims in Switzerland, and as a result is permissible (Miller 2016). In making this claim, however, what is ignored is the cultural significance of minarets. Without a recognition of the distinct place of culture in certain claims, a full understanding of the minaret case cannot be reached. The same challenge can be seen in deliberations around whether Muslim women should be permitted to wear face coverings in public spaces. Some commentators suggest that, because (according to some interpretations) Islamic texts do not appear to require face coverings, women can be denied the right to engage in this practice, without violating their religious freedom. In making this argument, its defenders notice that the choice to cover faces is in effect a (mere) cultural interpretation of Islamic requirements, as evidenced by the fact that only some communities of practising Muslims engage in the practice. For some scholars, it is essential to separate religious from cultural claims—liberal democratic states take religious claims very seriously as matters of conscience, and have a long history of zealously protecting religious freedom. So, having determined that a claim is not one of religious freedom, such scholars believe they can comfortably deny the request for permission to cover faces in public spaces. However, ignoring the cultural dimensions of the claim—or treating them as though they are obviously of less significance than the underlying religious claim—fails to treat the case properly. In particular, it fails to take seriously that religious obligations necessarily have cultural interpretations, that a full recognition of religious freedom entails recognizing their cultural interpretations, and that specifically cultural legal and political accommodation (of a religious commitment) will thereby be called for.

In what follows, distinct types of cultural claims, made against a state’s major institutions, will be examined. These claims are, as will be seen, sometimes made by individuals and sometimes by groups. Where relevant, the analysis will highlight whether the concept of culture that is being deployed is culture-as-encompassing group, culture-as-social-formation, culture-as-narrative, or culture-as-identity. The analysis will not always be neat. In some cases, there will be multiple defenses of a cultural right, which rely on distinct understandings of culture.

Perhaps the most familiar type of cultural claim made against the state is in the form of request for exemptions from rules and regulations that typically apply to all citizens. Exemption rights respond to the fact that, in liberal democracies, laws and practices are meant—genuinely—to treat all citizens equally, but that there are some which inadvertently impose disadvantage on certain minorities. The worry to be resolved is that minority citizens are unintentionally or accidentally burdened by the normal application of certain laws (Levy 2000: 130), in ways that treat them unfairly, which can be resolved by exemptions from certain laws and normal practices (Quong 2006; Gutmann 2003). The extension of exemption rights then is understood as a

a recognition of that difference, as an attempt not to unduly burden the minority culture or religion en route to the laws’ legitimate goals. (Levy 2000: 130)

For example, some Sikhs request exemption from laws that require wearing motorcycle or construction-site helmets. Although Sikhism is a religion, Sikhs describe the requirement that they wear a turban not quite as a religious requirement, but rather as a symbol of their faith and commitment to Sikh values, as well as an expression of their identity (Sikh Faith FAQs in Other Internet Resources ). Without exemption from these laws, Sikhs would be excluded from taking advantage of opportunities that are meant to be available to all citizens on an equal basis. The same is true of Indigenous communities, who have requested exemptions from generally applicable laws that limit hunting and fishing, explaining that such limits undermine their traditional way of life, or make it hard (or impossible) for them to sustain themselves (Levy 2000: 128). Before Sunday-closing laws were abandoned in Canada and the United States, religious minorities were occasionally granted exemptions from them. In these cases, as described above and without legally provided exemptions, people (usually minorities) must choose between participating in opportunities that should be available to all citizens on an equal basis or to respect their (cultural) understanding of what their religion requires of them.

The request for exemption can be lightly distinguished from the request for rule modification. As indicated, exemption requests are, as they sound, requests that individuals be exempted from certain requirements that are meant to apply to all citizens equally; modification requests ask for changes in existing, majority, practices to accommodate certain other, minority, practices. Sikhs sometimes request exemption from laws that would, otherwise, require them to remove their turban as above; in other cases, they request uniform modifications, so that turbans are treated as one among several available head coverings for those carrying out a specific role. The same is true of uniform modification requests made by Muslim women who cover their faces or heads, and Jewish men who wear yarmulkes, where uniforms have traditionally required an uncovered head or face, or where they have required particular head coverings (as in the Sikh case, they may also be presented as requests for exemptions). Similarly, when observant Muslims request short breaks in their work day to pray at specific times of day, or when Jewish and Muslim students ask for changes in the provision of foods (to accommodate kosher and halal obligations) in school cafeterias, the request is for modification rather than exemption.

In most cases, the early failure of a legitimate law to modify or exempt new practices is unintentional. That is, the laws or practices in place were not adopted intentionally with the purpose of excluding, but were rather adopted under the assumption that they treat the existing population fairly. But widespread immigration has diversified many populations in substantial ways. Immigrants often travel with practices and norms that are, when they arrive, unfamiliar to the states they are joining, and as a result states are asked to modify certain laws, and exempt newcomers from certain others. There may be cases where there are legitimate public reasons to persist in applying certain laws in spite of the disadvantage they generate for newcomers. As well, there are cases where states persist in demanding obedience to laws and practices that clearly disadvantage newcomers attempting to integrate, but where there are no good mitigating factors to justify persisting in the imposing of disadvantage (as when the Danish town of Randers passed a law requiring that pork be served “on an equal footing with other foods” in school cafeterias). In these latter cases, the exclusionary impact of the laws is no longer inadvertent, and they are generally condemnable for perpetuating unnecessary and unjustified exclusion from political, economic and social spaces.

It is not always the case that individuals or groups claiming cultural rights to exemption and modification are immigrants, but that is often the case. Indigenous communities ask for exemptions, as do certain orthodox religious communities. These cases will be discussed below in the section focused on cultural preservation.

Demands for assistance call on the state to preserve the conditions under which various elements of a culture can persist and even thrive, especially minority languages, or to promote and protect cultural associations in various ways, including by offering financial support to artists from within these cultural groups, or by providing resources to permit the production and distribution of ethnic-language media. The justification for assistance rights is the same as for exemption and modification requests: it is to prevent persistent unfairness in access to rights or goods that are meant to be available for all citizens on an equal basis. In the case of assistance rights, cultural minority groups argue that the majority group has access to these goods already, for example to a robust language or media space, and so they request state resources to secure these goods for cultural minorities as well. Here, whereas the justification overlaps with the one offered to defend exemption and modification rights—to generate fairness—the understanding of culture that underpins the demand for these rights is distinct. Typically, exemption and modification claims treat culture-as-identity or dialogue, whereas in the case of assistance claims, the background understanding of culture is often culture-as-social-formation or culture-as-encompassing group; the culture is treated as a whole that requires assistance to protect each of its central parts, in order to do the job of shaping members well.

Self-determination rights are those that confer substantial control to sub-state jurisdictions over a particular territory and in particular the right to run the major institutions on that territory. A self-determining community is one that, because of control over major institutions in a territory, is capable of making and enforcing decisions, without interference by outsiders, in multiple policy spaces (I. M. Young 2004). The justification for self-determination rights is sometimes based on reparation or corrective justice, for example where past state actions have undermined the capacity for a particular cultural group to be self-determining in the first place (Song 2009: 184). In other cases, the demand for self-determination is justified with respect to the importance of protecting the autonomy of a culturally distinct sub-state jurisdiction, that is, its capacity to run its own affairs in ways that are consonant with its particular cultural preferences. The right to self-determination typically relies on an understanding of culture-as-encompassing group, or culture-as-social-formation, suggesting that without significant control over the major institutions that govern the lives of citizens, the relevant group will not be able to be self-determining.

The right to self-determination is typically attributed to states, so its meaning in the context of minority communities operating at the sub-state level is not always clear. Among sub-state jurisdictions, the right is often claimed by Indigenous groups as well as sub-state national groups, like the Basques and the Scottish, whose “societal culture” is manifestly distinct from the majority’s societal culture. The demand for self-determination is a demand to make choices about how children are educated, what language is spoken by the relevant political authorities, and how the public space should be organized. The right claimed has at least three manifestations: 1) the right, at a minimum, to “maintain a comprehensive way of life within the larger society without interference”; 2) the right to recognition by the majority for its way of life, and 3) the right to active backing by the majority to affirmatively support the relevant way of life so that “the culture can flourish” (Margalit & Halbertal 1994: 498). These three interpretations make distinct demands on the state, running from simple non-interference to active participation in sustaining the conditions for self-determination. As a result, the larger state is sometimes tasked with assessing the extent to which it wants to direct its resources to supporting a particular request for self-determination, focused on whether associated claims to cultural preservation are warranted. These will be considered below.

The demand for formal recognition in legal and political documents often travels with the demand for self-determination, and is grounded in a desire to have the majority mark its commitment to the full and equal respect of a cultural minority group (Mcbride 2009). In the Canadian case, the Québécois have long fought for recognition as a nation, with a “distinct society”. Attempts to recognize Québec’s status in the Canadian constitution have repeatedly failed, though a motion that read “That this House recognize that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada” was approved (with considerable controversy, however) by the House of Commons in 2006. The demand for recognition in this case is a demand for respect as an equal, national, founding partner of the Canadian state.

In the case of Indigenous communities as well, the right to self-determination often includes not only the demand to exercise authority over specific jurisdictions, but also for recognition. They seek recognition, for example, as original inhabitants of a particular state, or as nations in their own right, or as having been the victims of various crimes at the hands of colonizers, including the violation of early treaties between them, as well as demands for state support in sustaining and, in many cases, rebuilding communities that were actively devastated by colonizing/settler governments. In Canada, and other colonizing states, for example, it has become common to read land acknowledgement statements in advance of events (including as part of the “announcements” read at the beginning of a school day), recognizing that events and proceedings are taking place on unceded Indigenous land. Similarly, Australian Indigenous communities have long argued for official recognition in the Australian constitution. From the perspective of Australian Indigenous communities, the hope, and indeed the expectation, is that official recognition will give rise to additional rights and benefits, for example to greater voice and political access to members of the minority. The hope for additional rights and benefits is present in some, but not all, cases of recognition claims (for example, it largely was not present in the case of Québec).

Recognition comes in other forms beyond acknowledgement in legal and political documents, that are intended to confirm respect for minority groups. In some states, the languages of minority groups can be officially recognized as national languages. For example, the Romansh language in Switzerland is officially recognized as a national language, even though its speakers make up less than 1% of the country’s total population. By contrast, Turkish laws that banned the speaking of Kurdish in public spaces were an attempt to deny recognition to a national minority (lifted finally in 1991). As with demands for official recognition in binding constitutional documents, these sorts of recognition demonstrate respect for minority communities as well as a commitment to treating them as full and equal members of the larger state.

Cultural preservation rights are those that groups claim as key to sustaining a cultural group as a cultural group. This right is sometimes described as a right to the “survival of a culturally-specific people” (Gutmann 2003: 75). In some cases, the justification is based on the claim that certain forms of exposure to and engagement with the wider community will result in the erosion of a culture that is valued by its members. In others, the justification is historical, as in where orthodox religious groups, fleeing religious persecution in Europe, agreed to settle new land in Canada and the United States in exchange for religious freedom. In others, the central justification is that cultural diversity is valuable and worth preserving, in and of itself (Parekh 2000). (In some cases, cultural preservation rights are claimed as recompense for past wrong; this claim is considered separately, below.) Demands for cultural preservation are most controversial where they are made by illiberal groups, as will be detailed shortly.

It is worth dwelling here for a moment to notice that there are two ways to interpret cultural preservation: it could mean the preservation of a group as a distinct cultural entity or it could mean the preservation of certain practices and values that are believed, at a moment in time, to be central to the culture. Rights to cultural preservation come in multiple formats, including demands for exemption, parental autonomy, respect for internal conflict resolution mechanisms (in family law, mainly), and control over membership. These rights are justified with respect to preserving culture, and typically rely on an understanding of culture-as-encompassing groups or culture-as-social-formation, just as does the more general right to self-determination with which they often travel.

Many minority illiberal groups ask only for rights of forbearance against the state in which they live (Spinner-Halev 2000). In response, a state may permit an illiberal cultural group to be “left alone”, on the idea that so long as it can persist without state support of any kind, it may do so. A state may be asked to do more, however, to preserve the culture.

For example, a state may be asked to exempt community members from certain requirements that are typically demanded of all citizens, including mandatory schooling and child labour laws. Consider this example: many orthodox Amish communities live a life that is largely segregated from the wider community. They live a religiously structured way of life which dictates whom members marry, how they raise children, how they produce an economy that permits their way of life to continue. In most cases, they demand neither recognition nor additional financial support in order to protect their communities’ way of life. They had previously demanded only non-interference, for the most part. But, in the 1970s, some American Amish communities demanded, and were granted, the right to withdraw their children from mandatory education at the age of 14, arguing that where their children were required to remain in school until the age of 16, they were more likely to exit the community. This high rate of exit would, they argued, result in the failure of the Amish way of life to persist over time (Burtt 1994). The right of exemption the Amish claimed was, in this case, derivative of the larger demand for cultural self-preservation; without the exemption, they said, the culture itself might fade away.

A state may also be asked to respect certain domains of legal authority, perhaps most frequently in the domain of family law. Minority communities often regulate the conditions of marriage, and custody of children, as well as divorce, and request the legal authority to do so. Respecting the legal authority of minority communities to exercise jurisdiction in family law is the kind of request that often troubles critics of cultural minority rights, since it may entrench disadvantages to women, for example in divorce settlements or custody agreements (Shachar 2001; Bakht 2007). In general, then, states that acknowledge the legal authority of minority communities in the space of family law also demand that those who are participating in these adjudication proceedings do so willingly; majority states therefore often retain permission for themselves to interefere in these proceedings, in support of those who may be inadequately protected. The state must attempt a balance here, between offering its support to the most vulnerable members of a minority group (for example to ensure that their constitutional rights are protected) and interference of a kind that is inattentive to the rightful claims of minority groups to persist over time, in part by exercising its authority in key spaces.

Another common form of cultural preservation rights are exclusion rights, that is, the right of a cultural group to refuse to admit others to territory or membership, because of a worry that more generous terms of admission threatens to undermine it by, in effect, diluting it. Just as states have the putative right to control their borders (discussed below in section 3), and who can claim membership rights even after admission, so do some sub-state jurisdictions claim this double right of exclusion, citing the importance of cultural preservation. Indigenous communities have sometimes claimed the right to exclude non-Indigenous individuals from settling on their territories or the right to exclude others (for example non-Indigenous spouses of Indigenous persons) from certain membership benefits, including the right to vote (or otherwise have a say) for those who will govern. State courts have been asked to adjudicate the rightful authority of Indigenous communities to make these determinations (see Song 2005).

The cultural preservation rights described above pose a difficult challenge, connected to the critiques of treating culture as an encompassing group: any claim for cultural preservation, say some critics, translates in effect into problematic claims of control over members, which, moreover, are typically most restrictive for women and LGBTQ+ members of a cultural group. This is a challenge posed most forcefully where rights of cultural preservation are demanded by so-called illiberal groups like the Amish, and where they are (in the eyes of critics) imposed on children against their will. Illiberal groups are those which deny certain key liberal values, like autonomy and equality; in many cases, these communities are supported by educational systems that discourage autonomous choice-making, by avoiding the teaching of skills and capacities that typically enable it, and by enforcing hierarchical rules that elevate some members over others in ways that egalitarians find uncomfortable. The worry is that the community wants not only to preserve itself as a distinct cultural group, but also that it wants to protect a kind of cultural homogeneity that leaves no room for contestation or dissent over its central values and practices. These latter hierarchical rules often render women vulnerable to more powerful men, who may demand various forms of sexual subservience to them, who relegate them to the home to care for children, and who impose rigid codes of behaviour on them, for which harsh penalties are meted out in cases of violation. These kinds of so-called “cultural practices” are, for some critics, such that they render any form of state support in protecting minority cultural groups largely indefensible (Okin 1999). 

A worry that runs through objections to these many cultural preservation rights is that women may not be willing participants in these cultures, and therefore that respecting cultural preservation rights consigns women to lives they would not choose, do not want, and cannot escape. But for many it is a mistake to assume that women members are such only under duress, since many will deeply value the community itself and respect the norms and values that it seeks to protect, even if they reject certain among them. In these cases, and where political theorists consider them, there is an attempt to move from treating culture in encompassing terms towards treating it in dialogic and narrative terms. Cultures, even oppressive (to liberals) minority cultures, are subject to change, and perhaps the best source of change is deeply committed members who willingly endorse key values but reject others, including those that do not respect the equal rights of women. Monique Deveaux’s account of female adult participants in customary marriages in South Africa, who accept some elements of their culture, but who aim to gain a voice at the table to shift others, treats culture in dialogic terms (Deveaux 2007). Here, the key motivating thought is that cultures can and do shift over time, in response to how its members engage in it, and what matters is not the change itself, but who or what is its source. On this view, the objective of cultural preservation rights is not to preserve culture per se , a challenge that would prove impossible in any case, but rather the right to protect the ability of group members to shape their culture and to protect it against unwelcome sources of change.

Others argue that so long as women, and any others subject to rigid cultural demands, possess a right (or the capacity) to exit the community, their choice to remain should be treated as such (Kukathas 1992). For those who hold this view, efforts to render the right to exit genuinely exercisable are tremendously important (Kukathas 2012; Holzleithner 2012). In so doing, a state must make a choice about the resources it provides to those members who may desire to exit, but who do not have the means to establish themselves in the larger society. In some orthodox religious communities, property is owned in common and individual members do not have any personal property or resources; as a result, exiters have nothing on which to rely while they establish their new lives. In others, members are poorly educated, and unfamiliar with life outside of their own communities, and so exit without the capacity to sustain themselves in the larger society.  So, receiving states can offer support to exiters in various ways, for example by providing shelters to exiting women (and men), in which education is provided so that they may eventually attain self-sufficiency as a member of mainstream society. The choice to support exiters may seem to undermine a culture’s capacity for self-preservation. But supporting exiters is not well-understood as denying cultural preservation rights; rather, the choice to do so stems from a state’s commitment to protecting the rights of all of its members, including the most vulnerable, as best as it can do.

The right to cultural preservation described above should be distinguished from the slightly different right against coerced cultural loss, which focuses on preservation in cases where the potential loss is the result of coercion by outside forces against which a cultural group is relatively powerless. Of course, cultural change  is inevitable in some form, as highlighted above, and especially if one holds a culture-as-dialogue view, cultures are in fact never static. Rather, practices, norms, and values that are defining of a culture at one time may cease to be centrally defining of that culture, for a whole range of reasons including economic, environmental, and political. So, in fact, some amount of cultural loss is inevitable, and moreover, it is not always to be regretted. Sometimes, it is a normal response to external factors that are beyond a culture’s control, and sometimes it is welcome because the changes result in the better protection of human rights or more inclusive cultural traditions and practices. A cultural group may choose to shift their central modes of production in response to changing environmental factors, for example. So, as Samuel Scheffler has argued, the strong preservationist view of culture—that cultures should be insulated from all forms of change—must be rejected (Scheffler 2007).

Yet, especially minority cultures may sometimes have a reasonable claim that they are not able to protect themselves against unwanted cultural change, or that they are not able to control the pace of change. They may thereby be entitled to forms of state support, to help them create the conditions under which they can resist unwanted cultural change.  When linguistic minorities request state support to persist in educating children in a minority language, for example, sometimes the justification is in the name of protecting against the erosion of the language in the face of pressure to adopt or become fluent in the majority language.

In other cases, majorities are actively focused on undermining minority cultures, often over years and even decades. Colonial states have pursued genocidal policies against Indigenous communities for example, with the expressed purpose of undermining their capacity to survive as distinct peoples. In assessing cases of cultural loss, then, a key factor is whether the shift is forced upon minority groups, not necessarily by changing environmental or economic conditions, but by agents who intend to undermine the culture, by actively disvaluing it and thereby acting so as to undermine the conditions for its robust continuity. External, malicious, factors that engender cultural change that would not otherwise be expected, make the change not only regrettable, but generate a case for reparations, for example with respect to Indigenous communities, where there is “evidence of a history of dispossession, discrimination, or subordination” (Phillips 2018: 97).

In legal environments, wrong-doers sometimes deploy a cultural defense, explaining that minority cultural norms and values, which are in tension with those of the majority, are causally relevant in explaining why they committed a wrong. A cultural defense has, thereby, sometimes been treated as a relevant mitigating factor in assigning punishment. The right to offer a cultural defense is typically justified with respect to the importance of recognizing that minorities do not always operate according to the same values and norms that are represented in the majority’s legal system, and that these differences are entitled to some consideration in legal spaces. Earlier court decisions accepted explanations that, for example, men who murdered their unfaithful partners were moved to do so by a combination of shame and rage associated with cultural norms. For example, men who claimed that “gang rape” (known culturally as marriage by capture) was mandated by Hmong culture as a way to secure a wife, in which women were not only complicit but in fact willing partners, are no longer understood to have a defense in legal suits accusing them of rape (Song 2005). However, the power of “cultural” explanations in mainstream legal spaces has decreased over time, as states have come to see how many of these defenses are in fact cover for patriarchal, misogynist attitudes that persist, both in some minority communities and in the wider community.

“Cultural” defenses of crime often amount to treating culture as though it were a homogeneous whole, and as though perpetrators of crime rather than its victims have a lock on its interpretation. But “respect for culture cannot mean deference to whatever the established authorities of culture deem right” (Gutmann 2003: 46). Additionally, a generic imperative to “respect culture” in legal spaces can ignore the differences among types of cultural expectations, which can range from permissible acts, to encouraged acts and required acts, only some of which may justifiably be treated as legally relevant (Vitikainen 2015: 162). As well, it can permit and encourage the representation of minority (especially non-western) cultures as stereotypes, and “mobilizes culture in ways that encourage absurdly large generalizations about people from particular cultural groups” (Phillips 2007: 81 & 99). The danger represented by an uncritical acceptance of the cultural defense is in a treatment of culture as so encompassing that it treats its members as incapable of autonomous decision-making. But, say critics of the cultural defense, this is a mistake—along with many other factors, culture can be part of an explanation for engaging in wrong-doing, but should “never be mistaken for the whole truth” (Phillips 2007: 98).

A final cultural right that is claimed by some is the right to control cultural artifacts or expressions, or the use of cultural content in general (Matthes 2016). This is the right that is at issue in recent controversies focused on cultural appropriation, defined as the use, by a non-member, of “something of cultural value, usually a symbol or a practice, to others” (Lenard & Balint 2020). Familiar examples of actions that have been accused of engaging in cultural appropriation include the wearing of dreadlocks by whites; the donning of Indigenous clothing as Halloween costumes; the use of turbans in high fashion; the teaching of yoga by instructors who do not have South Asian backgrounds. In all of these cases, a non-member is accused of “appropriating” a particular cultural practice or symbol that is not their own. On this view, cultures have exclusive rights to use their cultural “products” as they see fit, often because that practice is understood to be central to their identity. This perspective is controversial, and often mocked, by those who observe that history just is the mingling and sharing of cultural practices and symbols, including in the spaces of cuisine, the arts, dress and spiritual practices; their mocking treats the rights claim as relying on an understanding of culture that is unchanging and immutable over time, which is historically inaccurate and, furthermore, undesirable. Correspondingly, key cultural artifacts are best understood as belonging to “humanity”: “it isn’t peoples who experience and value art: it’s men and women” (Appiah 2009).

The right claimed—to full or exclusive use of defining cultural practices or symbols—is perhaps not best enforced by the state, though states can and do engage in practices that are attentive to the harms allegedly caused by cultural appropriation. For example, centralized support for the arts, in the form of grants to produce artistic endeavours, can be sensitive to who is asking for support to produce what , and can direct funding towards artists from a particular tradition who aim to produce culturally specific products, and correspondingly refuse (unless very good reason is offered) to support endeavours by cultural outsiders to produce “insider” art (Rowell 1995; J. O. Young 2008). The right claimed is relatively stronger where a particular cultural community is the victim of a power imbalance, where the cultural community has expressly requested that a particular practice or symbol be “left alone” by a majority community, and where members of the majority community are  profiting on the basis of its use of the particular symbol or practice (Lenard & Balint 2020). As in other cases, the right claimed by a cultural group is strongest where there are persistent inequalities between the minority claimant and the majority group.

3. Majority Cultural Rights Claims

Section 2 considered the cultural rights claims that are, usually, made by minority groups. Majority groups make cultural claims as well, in particular with respect to excluding others from their territory as well as with respect to what can be demanded of those who are admitted.

One domain in which majority communities claim a cultural right is in the space of immigration. For some, the right of states to shape their culture can legitimately serve as a reason to exclude others, in general and sometimes specific others. This view is often attributed to Michael Walzer, who argues that the right of a state to control its borders is intimately connected to its capacity to

defend the liberty and welfare, the politics and culture of a group of people committed to one another and to their common life. (Walzer 1983: 39, emphasis added)

The right of a state to control its culture is therefore an essential one to protect its “collective consciousness”, as noted in Section 1.

This claim has encountered pushback from many scholars, for multiple reasons. One reason is that the claim that a state may exclude would-be migrants for cultural reasons has too often been, in fact, an attempt to enact discriminatory legislation aimed at excluding migrants whose beliefs and practices are said to be incompatible with, or even undermining of, the values and norms that define the majority’s culture. Exclusion based on so-called cultural reasons has often been a claim that a state prefers to remain culturally, religiously, ethnically, and racially homogeneous. Historically, states engaged explicitly in such discriminatory practices, which have now been repudiated, including for example variants of Asian Exclusion Acts which were in operation in North America in the early 1900s.

The same accusation is also merited in several recent cases, such as the implementation of the so-called Muslim Ban in the United States, or with respect to proposals during the height of the crisis in Syria (2015) in some countries to prioritize Christian over Muslim refugees (Song 2018). Among political theorists of immigration, there is however widespread repudiation of discriminatory immigration policies, both explicitly and implicitly, even among those who defend the general right of states to exclude would-be migrants and refugees, for many reasons including to preserve culture (Miller 2005).

A second source of pushback stems from a more general skepticism that a majority’s culture, even if genuinely valuable to its members, should be treated as sufficiently so to warrant excluding migrants, especially necessitous ones (the language of necessity is borrowed from Song 2018). Even if it is conceded that culture is valuable to a majority, many scholars believe that its protection cannot warrant excluding those in severe need of safety or subsistence.

Yet, say those who defend the view that culture can, at least in some cases, serve to exclude migrants, there is a case to be made for treating the state as possessing the right to cultural continuity (Miller 2005). This claimed right looks very much like the right to cultural preservation (or against cultural loss) described above, and it highlights not so much the sentimental dimensions of a majority’s attachment to its culture, but rather its pragmatic interpretation. On this view, any particular state is defined by a “shared public culture” which, because shared, underpins the trust that democratic states rely on to pursue political and social objectives in common. No particular value that makes up a shared public culture is valuable in and of itself. Rather, it is the combination of a set of values, norms, and practices, that produces “our” culture that is valuable, and in its presence, trust is higher; as a result, so is the willingness to cooperate to support policies that require some sacrifice, including for example, commitment to redistributive social policies that are especially to the benefit of those who are least well-off (e.g., see the essays in Gustavsson & Miller 2019). So, according to those who defend these views, a state that seeks to exert control over admission citing “cultural” reasons is neither racist nor discriminatory, but rather is seeking controlled admission (rather than closed borders) so that newcomers can, over a sufficient time period, come to adopt enough of the set of defining values, norms, and practices, to be able to warrant and extend the trust that underpins the policies that instantiate these objectively valued goods.

States that defend the right of cultural continuity at the level of admission to a state typically also deploy the right to adopt and enforce “integration” policies that encourage newcomers to adopt majority norms and values, arguing that the faster such adoption happens, the more rapid admission itself can be. Integration policies ask newcomers to adopt the norms and practices of the majority community, whereas accommodation policies ask the majority to accommodate practices that are distinct from those that define the majority’s culture. On this conventional multicultural view, the process by which migrants are admitted to the territory, and then to membership, is a “two-way” street, requiring that both newcomers and the host state adapt in response to each other (Kymlicka 1998).

Is the demand that newcomers integrate culturally reasonable? Is it reasonable, that is, to ask immigrants to adopt the norms, values, and practices that are central to the culture they have joined (l will leave aside the question of economic and political integration, here)? Notice that in the political and sociological literature in immigration incorporation, integration (culturally) is typically distinguished from assimilation, where the former focuses on welcoming newcomers with the distinct sets of norms and values that travel with them (and so accommodating them where possible), and the latter demands that immigrants adopt as fully as possible the set of norms and values that are central to the host society (Brubaker 2001; see also Modood 2007). In the political theory literature on multiculturalism, however, it is widely accepted that a demand for full assimilation is normatively problematic (it requires too much of immigrants, to abandon their histories and identities, as part of joining a new community), but that some form of encouragement to integrate is permissible.

Whether the integration demands are permissible depends on at least two connected things, however: first, on the content of the shared public culture and, second, on the accessibility of the venues in which the content of this public culture is deliberated. The space in which a culture is deliberated is amorphous as well as expansive. The source of key norms, practices, and values is multi-fold: some are historical, some are deliberately adopted through political processes, some are accidentally adopted in response to contingent circumstances. The demand that newcomers integrate, in the sense of adopt the norms and practices of the majority culture to at least a reasonable extent is more defensible in cases where access to spaces in which they are deliberated is public and therefore open to many voices. The precise meaning of “accessibility” to spaces that are not clearly defined, and entry to which is not monitored or policed in any formal way, is challenging to pin down. But the key point is that to the extent that cultures welcome and take seriously new voices—in public media, in political spaces, and so on—they can be described as publicly accessible. So, there is a connection between the legitimacy of demanding adherence to majority culture norms and practices, as part of the process of integration, and the genuine access that newcomers have to the spaces in which they are deliberated.

In considering the second question, with respect to the content of a majority’s shared public culture, I borrow from the literature in the political theory of nationalism (though I do not believe that the language of nationalism itself is essential to appreciate its relevance to the discussion here). A culture can be defined by features that are more or less inclusive. Where cultures are defined by characteristics that are typically used to describe ethnic nations, including shared history, religion, ethnicity/race, newcomers are less easily able to join them and be recognized as full members. Where cultures are defined by characteristics that are typically used, on the other hand, to describe civic nations, including shared commitment to political institutions and, usually, a commitment to liberal democratic principles, then they are more welcoming for newcomers. In the language adopted earlier in this entry, cultures that are defined by exclusive features are more likely to treat culture as encompassing, whereas cultures that adopt inclusive features, and emphasize accessibility to the forums in which its content is deliberated, treat culture in dialogic or identity terms. This need not be the case, though, since those who treat culture in dialogic terms may nevertheless believe that key elements of history or religion are central to it (though they are open to deliberation about the appropriateness of these elements as central) and similarly identities can be formulated on the basis of exclusionary features.

Another way to define inclusivity focuses attention on the extent to which a culture’s main norms, practices, and values can be adopted by newcomers without their giving up something they value (Lenard 2019). Key here is to define the permissible contours of an inclusive culture that, at the same time, can serve to distinguish it from others in ways that resolve what philosophers have called the “particularity” problem. If cultures are defined only by commitment to liberal democratic principles and the institutions that instantiate them, then a person will necessarily be committed to any state that is so defined. But this conclusion does not make sense of the reality that many citizens are attached to their state’s interpretation of these values—fundamental, abstract, liberal democratic principles are adopted, respected, and instantiated, in other words, in a culturally specific way. It is important, then, to delineate the boundary of permissible cultural content, which can include recognition of key historical moments, or political conversations, or cultural icons. No state can demand of newcomers that their emotional commitment be to their new state; but it can reasonably impart information about learnable key cultural markers, encourage newcomers to adopt the associated practices and norms, and hope that over time their emotional identification shifts to the host state, at least partially (Carens 2005). Under the condition that the public cultural content of a host state is reasonably accessible, and that the forums in which it is deliberated are likewise reasonably accessible, then the host state can permissibly encourage the integration of newcomers. This right is perhaps best understood as derivative of the right to cultural continuity that states claim in relation to immigration, which can permissibly be claimed if and only if the accessibility conditions described above are met.

Not all scholars agree on this point, of course, and some reject entirely the suggestion that newcomers can be asked to make accommodations to the culture of the state that they have joined. Those who adopt variants on this view treat the majority’s culture as nearly always homogeneous and oppressive in ways that are disrespectful of newcomers, and treat the demand for integration along at least some dimensions as “cleaned up” variations on the discriminatory and racist immigration policies of the past (Abizadeh 2002). This is a real worry. When the Netherlands demanded that potential migrants from majority Muslim countries watch a video and pass a test merely to gain entry to its territory—a video that showed gay men kissing and a topless woman—it was widely excoriated for its discriminatory intent, rather than (as was claimed) an attempt to ensure that migrants could adopt the liberal values that supposedly characterized the country’s culture. More generally, the mechanisms of encouraging the learning and adoption of the majority culture’s values, in addition to its actual content as delineated above, as well as the consequences for failure to do so, must be scrutinized for their reasonableness. This assessment is a tricky business, certainly, made trickier because in many (if not most) immigration situations, the potential newcomer is in a situation of vulnerability in relation to the host state: their interest in gaining entry is very strong and so in many cases, they will accept heavy-handed attempts to coerce their integration without complaint.

Both minority groups (many of which are immigrant groups) and majority groups claim that “culture” is important and deserving of accommodation in multiple ways. This entry began with an examination of the multiple ways in which culture has been understood, to unpack the ways in which it is deployed when specific cultural rights are claimed. It is important to notice that these cultural claims, on both sides, are often made in relation to each other: a minority group demands a particular cultural right and the majority responds by claiming a different cultural right. In many cases, the choice to respect or ignore claimed cultural rights is framed in terms of the impact that doing so will have on the culture of the majority, for example, by stating that a particular practice for which accommodation is requested is incompatible with the majority culture in general, or sometimes more specifically with a particular practice or norm that is believed to be particularly important. The latter claim was made, for example, in France, during “l’affaire du foulard”—the right to cover one’s head as a manifestation of Islamic (or Jewish) religious commitment was denied for the way in which it compromised the French’s commitment to laicity (Laborde 2008; Benhabib 2004).

This entry has attempted to offer the resources that are essential to adjudicating these conflicts, in ways that take seriously both those who demand cultural rights and those who resist respecting them. Hopefully, future political theory can make use of this taxonomy to identify satisfactory conclusions to these conflicts when they arise.

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  • Sikh Faith FAQs , World Sikh Organization of Canada.

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Essay on Cultural Diversity in India

Students are often asked to write an essay on Cultural Diversity in India in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Cultural Diversity in India

Introduction to cultural diversity.

India is famously known for its rich cultural diversity. It is a land where people of different religions, castes, and ethnic groups live together, each contributing to the country’s unique cultural fabric.

Religious Diversity

India is home to many religions, including Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Each religion has its own set of rituals, festivals, and traditions, which adds to the cultural richness.

Language Diversity

India is a linguistically diverse country with over 1600 spoken languages. Every state has its own language, and people take pride in their linguistic heritage.

Art and Cuisine

Indian art and cuisine vary greatly from region to region. The music, dance, and food of each area are influenced by its history, geography, and local traditions. This diversity in art and cuisine is a testament to India’s cultural richness.

In conclusion, cultural diversity is one of India’s greatest strengths. It fosters a sense of unity in diversity, making India a vibrant and inclusive nation.

250 Words Essay on Cultural Diversity in India


India, often referred to as a ‘melting pot’ of cultures, stands as a testament to the confluence of diverse traditions, religions, and languages. Its cultural diversity is a rich tapestry woven with threads of myriad hues, each representing a unique cultural facet.

India is the birthplace of religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, which coexist with Islam, Christianity, Zoroastism, Judaism, and others. Each religion has contributed to the cultural mosaic of India, leaving indelible imprints on its art, architecture, literature, music, and dance.

Linguistic Diversity

The linguistic diversity in India is astonishing, with the constitution officially recognizing 22 languages. Each language has its literature, folklore, and scripts, contributing to the cultural richness of the nation.

Social and Cultural Practices

The social and cultural practices in India vary significantly across its length and breadth. Festivals like Diwali, Eid, Christmas, Pongal, Baisakhi, and many others are celebrated with great fervor, each having its unique customs and traditions.

Indian art, ranging from classical dance forms to folk arts like Madhubani and Warli, showcases the cultural diversity. Indian cuisine, with its wide range of regional dishes, reflects the diversity in its culinary practices.

The cultural diversity of India is a testament to its pluralistic society, which embraces differences and promotes unity in diversity. It is this cultural diversity that makes India a vibrant and dynamic nation, offering a rich cultural experience.

500 Words Essay on Cultural Diversity in India

Introduction to cultural diversity in india.

India, often hailed as the epitome of cultural diversity, is a country where myriad cultures, religions, languages, and traditions coexist in harmony. This cultural diversity is the cornerstone of India’s pluralistic society and has shaped its history, politics, and social fabric.

Cultural Mosaic: Languages and Religions

India is home to over 2,000 distinct ethnic groups and more than 1,600 spoken languages. This linguistic diversity is a testament to the country’s cultural richness. Each language carries its unique folklore, literature, and art forms, contributing to the cultural mosaic of the nation.

Similarly, India’s religious diversity is unparalleled. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism originated here, and the country also houses substantial populations of Muslims, Christians, and other religious communities. These religions, with their unique rituals, festivals, and philosophies, add to the cultural kaleidoscope of India.

Art, Music, and Dance

Indian art, music, and dance forms are as diverse as its languages and religions. Each region boasts its distinct classical and folk music and dance styles. For instance, Kathakali from Kerala, Bharatanatyam from Tamil Nadu, and Kathak from North India are renowned dance forms, each with its unique storytelling method.

Similarly, Indian music ranges from the classical Carnatic and Hindustani styles to various folk traditions. Indian art, too, displays a wide range from Madhubani paintings of Bihar to Warli art of Maharashtra, each narrating a tale of its people and history.

Cuisine and Clothing

Indian cuisine, known for its flavors and spices, also mirrors the country’s cultural diversity. Each region has its culinary specialities, influenced by local produce, climate, and historical interactions. For example, coastal regions like Kerala and Goa have seafood-based cuisine, while Rajasthan’s arid climate has led to the development of a cuisine rich in dairy products and grains.

Clothing in India also varies regionally, reflecting local climatic conditions, traditions, and influences. From the ‘sarees’ and ‘dhotis’ of the south to the ‘pherans’ and ‘pathanis’ of the north, Indian attire is a vibrant display of its cultural diversity.

Challenges and Opportunities

While cultural diversity is India’s strength, it also poses challenges. Communal tensions, regional disparities, and language conflicts are some issues that stem from this diversity. However, these challenges also provide opportunities for dialogue, mutual understanding, and unity in diversity.

Cultural diversity in India is an enriching and complex tapestry of traditions, beliefs, and practices. It is a testament to the country’s historical openness to different cultures, its adaptability, and its inherent pluralism. This diversity, while posing challenges, also provides a framework for mutual respect and coexistence, making India a fascinating study in cultural diversity.

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Indian Culture : Unity in Diversity Essay , Article

Unity in Diversity : It is said that “ Unity in Diversity ” and it is known for India. India is a diverse country including different states, different regions, different people with different culture, different languages and different clothing and different food. Indian culture is a colourful combo of each colour with its importance. People of India are known for their food, their culture, and their everyday routine.

From Jammu to Kanyakumari and From Maharashtra to Bengal there are different people with their own importance. Jammu is north region of India which is specially known as heaven of India. The people of Jammu and Kashmir are most beautiful and they have their own bamboo dance. They will have their own language as well as they prefer warm food. They mostly live in warm wooden houses. After Jammu, Punjab and Hariyana is the main food sector of India, they are known as king of “wheat”. Punjab is a state with their dance known as “bhangda”, they have their own food as well as costume. After that Delhi is situated this is known as capital of INDIA.

Western part of India is covered by Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Rajasthan is full of “rajwadi”people; they have their own food and languages. Rajasthan is famous for desert. Gujarat is known as state of joyful people.Gujrat has their cultural festival navratri which is famous for garba and Guajarati people have their Guajarati language.

Read Also :  Short Essay On My Favorite Festival Diwali

Maharashtra is known as economic capital of India. It is the most developed state of India. Marathi people are famous for their shivaji spirit.

Moving from Western part, south is covered by Hyderabad, Bangalore, Karnataka etc. Southern region people have their own languages like Tamil, Telugu etc. South is famous for their literacy. They people have their own different food, languages, clothing, and festivals.

Eastern part is covered by Bangla people residing in east Bengal. Assam, Nepal, Nainital is famous region of east India. They are sweet people eating mostly sweet food.

So Indian culture is the best culture in this world!!

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Beyoncé Is Boldly Defying Country’s Stereotypes

cultural unity essay

E very Black woman has been called a Jezebel. The term, which originates from the Bible, is one of the oldest examples of misogyny in the world. Instead of being heralded for her reign as Queen, the Phoenician princess (after whom the term was named) was slut-shamed and subjected to whorephobia. To this day, her name conjures up images of promiscuity. 

For those raised in the church, young women and girls are encouraged to not have a “jezebel spirit” because a church girl can never be a whore. But for many Black women and girls, there is not an option to cast out or distance oneself from the Jezebel spirit, because according to America, we’ve been whores since 1619 . Although the hypersexualization of Black women did not come from the Bible, the ideal of a modern, chaste woman did. When the Bible found itself stateside, those ideals and beliefs began to disseminate throughout the 13 original colonies; any woman who was not white and shapely was a Jezebel . A woman meant to be feared. A woman meant to be isolated. A woman not meant to be seen. Because if this woman was seen, perceived, and respected, it would certainly be a sign of hell on Earth.

Black women have been raising hell on Earth, particularly in the South, for generations. Rissi Palmer, Holly G of Black Opry, and Kamara Thomas of Country Soul Songbook have been leading the charge through their activism to create better conditions for Black women not just in the South, but in country music. And with the release of Cowboy Carter , the second album in the Renaissance trilogy, Beyoncé has become the latest artist to challenge these norms.

Read More: Beyoncé Has Always Been Country

When Beyoncé arrived at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards on February 4, a visible change had occurred. Although the general public did not know at the time that she was officially making her foray back into country, she was leading the charge with her fashion. No longer was she adorned in the glistening silver chrome looks of Renaissance , Beyoncé, in her white shirt, Stetson hat, and oversized Black leather jacket and skirt, had become an outlaw. And country music loves an outlaw . 

The problem is that country music only loves an outlaw when they are white. The outlaw movement , which started as a staunch rebuke against the red tape of Nashville, allowed white men in country music, such as Willie Nelson, to be seen as rebellious—but in a way that was not anti-Nashville. From Johnny Cash to George Jones to Merle Haggard , these hell raisers have not only been warmly embraced in country music but championed. And the way these artists would often display this defiant spirit was through their dress.

Historian and scholar Dr. Francesca Royster writes about country’s outlaw movement in Black Country Music : Listening for Revolutions : “As the Man in Black, Johnny Cash could stand up for injustices against incarcerated folks and other outsiders, his Black shirt, hat, and jeans trademarks for his heroically critical stance.” Royster continues, “Blackness’s association in mainstream white culture with danger, illegality, and outsiderhood was put to use in Cash’s career to lend an element of authenticity. These moments reveal how, for these white male outlaws, proximity to Blackness—particularly metaphorical Blackness—is the ultimate expression of outsiderhood.``

Yet it is Beyoncé’s Blackness that country took issue with in the first place. The most telling part of her Grammy outfit was not her choice to wear Pharrell Willliams’ Western-inspired menswear collection for Louis Vuttion, but the red manicure that accompanied it. The manicure, featured on the singer’s Instagram post from the night, was most noticeable when she gave her red nails a bite. Fashion and costume historian Shelby Ivey Christie equates Beyoncé’s red nails to setting off a flare, making everyone in Nashville aware about her re-entry into country music. 

“There’s a Shakespearean saying about biting your thumb at someone, and that's to make fun of them,’” says Christie. “I feel that imagery is kind of that. She's biting her thumb at you. She's teasing you.”

It’s a tease that continued when Beyonce appeared at Super Bowl LVIII with Dolly Parton-esque hair and a Texas bombshell-inspired outfit . Compared to the Grammys, where the singer donned a straightforward western look, this felt more sultry, more seductive—almost as if the singer was invoking the spirit of the Jezebel.

The Jezebel has been known by many names, one of them being Jolene. In the country music lexicon, Jolene was immortalized by Parton as a beautiful red-headed woman with emerald green eyes and ivory skin who has the ability to take Parton’s man away from her. Similar to how the Jezebel Root has been historically used in Hoodoo practices to attract men of wealth and high status, Jolene became known as the woman to avoid unless you want the destruction of your household. 

“Women in country can be seen as more bombshell glam,” says Christie. “I think [the Super Bowl] was kind of [Beyonce’s] moment to give us that and to show us that the country genre wasn’t something that was on her. It’s in her.” But compared to her first foray into country music where Beyoncé wore what culture journalist Victoria M. Massie noted was a “ voluminous Antebellum-style dress cut from African wax print ” in the visuals for “Daddy Lessons,” her second attempt into country is being done the Renaissance way. 

The visuals for Cowboy Carter tell a story between the two, seamless acts. In act i, Beyoncé slyly introduced the country outlaw aesthetic by donning herself in a black fringed leather jacket for the album’s teaser trailer . At this year’s Gold Party , Beyoncé and Jay Z’s annual Oscars party, she fronted a more masculine aesthetic in a black Givenchy structured blazer and flared trousers. Both outfits were accompanied by a black cowboy hat—a playful homage to her Texas roots, which then took center stage in her album cover for Cowboy Carter . In a red, white, and blue latex outfit, a nod to her American and Texas roots, the singer’s posture feels reminiscent of painter Kehinde Wiley’s majestic compositions. (Wiley’s approach to painting, similarly to Beyoncé’s approach to country, is to bridge the gap between the past and present through the creative arts.) From her usage of Americana aesthetics to her platinum blonde locks, Beyoncé is giving the public an insight into her “ un-American life .”

The one thing that stands out most in Beyoncé's country era is her bleach blonde hair. Taking note from Parton, to be a blonde in Southern culture, in particular, has always been regarded as tacky and not tasteful. But as Parton famously said: “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap,” and with her new locks, Beyoncé is turning that stereotype on its head, too.

In the South, the societal norms that police women’s bodies, especially Black women’s bodies, stem from Christianity . And in country music, women are expected to present themselves in a particular way that adheres to those rules, despite not receiving adequate resources from their record labels. Even more-so, the sexual violence inflicted onto  Black women’s bodies because they are curvier or more voluptuous are thought to be justified. As a result of these societal, cultural, and political forces, Black women are socialized to keep their distance from anything that could perceive them as Jezebel-like. 

“Instead of men controlling themselves, respecting women's bodies, and having boundaries, it is the woman's responsibility to do that, by covering herself, by contorting herself into whatever boundary or rules are created to make them more palatable around men and to make them more palatable to the women peers around them,” says Christie. “That extends to color.”

There is a reason why Beyoncé decided to use the color red for “ Can’t B Broken ,” her Super Bowl commercial with Verizon. She wanted to be seen. She wanted to be heard. She wanted to tell Nashville that she is doing country her way, all the while honoring the legion of Black women in country music who came before her. 

In the official visualizer for “ Texas Hold ‘Em ,” Beyoncé in a mixture of black and silver walks onto the screen in a beehive, side ponytail and bang, a clear homage to Linda Martell , the first Black female country star. The style, which was immortalized in the May 1970 issue of Ebony, shows Martell on a press tour at WSM Radio alongside fellow country music legend Jeannie C. Riley on the heels of Martell’s  first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry in 1969. With this performance, Martell made history as the first Black female artist to perform on the highly esteemed music show.

But despite Martell’s legendary career, she experienced intense mistreatment and harassment by the country music industry. While at Plantation Records, the record label that she was signed to, Martell expressed discomfort with the label’s name because of its racist history. In addition to racial discomfort, she fell victim to a predatory contract. When she left Plantation Records, Shelby Singleton, the label founder, blacklisted Martell from any opportunities in the country music industry.

Read More: How Beyoncé Fits Into the Storied Legacy of Black Country

When Beyonce sweeps up her hair into an illustrious beehive and side swept bangs, it is a homage to Martell. Without saying a word, she is honoring the pioneering efforts of Martell and the Black women country artists of that time, while also sounding an alarm to the country music genre:that she expects to be treated with respect. For the entire world has their eyes on Beyoncé as she enters the country music industry for the second time. But it is not Beyoncé who should be in fear—it is Nashville. 

In a celebratory dinner with her husband Jay Z to commemorate Valentine’s Day, Beyonce appeared in mourning dress . Her Black Southern Gothic look drew inspiration from the post-Civil war period where widows wore a mourning veil for an alloted period of time. The question is: whose death is she calling into existence? The death of the country genre? The death of the barriers that restrict Black women from achieving success in country? Or has she become death itself? An omen of what’s to come.  

If Jezebel has to be one to kill the country genre, so be it. It is time for the church girl and the Jezebel to be seen as one in the same. It is time for the structures that govern and police Black women’s bodies to die. And it’s time we bury the old ways country music has been governed by into the ground.

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Guest Essay

A.I.-Generated Garbage Is Polluting Our Culture

A colorful illustration of a series of blue figures lined up on a bright pink floor with a red background. The farthest-left figure is that of a robot; every subsequent figure is slightly more mutated until the final figure at the right is strangely disfigured.

By Erik Hoel

Mr. Hoel is a neuroscientist and novelist and the author of The Intrinsic Perspective newsletter.

Increasingly, mounds of synthetic A.I.-generated outputs drift across our feeds and our searches. The stakes go far beyond what’s on our screens. The entire culture is becoming affected by A.I.’s runoff, an insidious creep into our most important institutions.

Consider science. Right after the blockbuster release of GPT-4, the latest artificial intelligence model from OpenAI and one of the most advanced in existence, the language of scientific research began to mutate. Especially within the field of A.I. itself.

cultural unity essay

Adjectives associated with A.I.-generated text have increased in peer reviews of scientific papers about A.I.

Frequency of adjectives per one million words


cultural unity essay

A study published this month examined scientists’ peer reviews — researchers’ official pronouncements on others’ work that form the bedrock of scientific progress — across a number of high-profile and prestigious scientific conferences studying A.I. At one such conference, those peer reviews used the word “meticulous” more than 34 times as often as reviews did the previous year. Use of “commendable” was around 10 times as frequent, and “intricate,” 11 times. Other major conferences showed similar patterns.

Such phrasings are, of course, some of the favorite buzzwords of modern large language models like ChatGPT. In other words, significant numbers of researchers at A.I. conferences were caught handing their peer review of others’ work over to A.I. — or, at minimum, writing them with lots of A.I. assistance. And the closer to the deadline the submitted reviews were received, the more A.I. usage was found in them.

If this makes you uncomfortable — especially given A.I.’s current unreliability — or if you think that maybe it shouldn’t be A.I.s reviewing science but the scientists themselves, those feelings highlight the paradox at the core of this technology: It’s unclear what the ethical line is between scam and regular usage. Some A.I.-generated scams are easy to identify, like the medical journal paper featuring a cartoon rat sporting enormous genitalia. Many others are more insidious, like the mislabeled and hallucinated regulatory pathway described in that same paper — a paper that was peer reviewed as well (perhaps, one might speculate, by another A.I.?).

What about when A.I. is used in one of its intended ways — to assist with writing? Recently, there was an uproar when it became obvious that simple searches of scientific databases returned phrases like “As an A.I. language model” in places where authors relying on A.I. had forgotten to cover their tracks. If the same authors had simply deleted those accidental watermarks, would their use of A.I. to write their papers have been fine?

What’s going on in science is a microcosm of a much bigger problem. Post on social media? Any viral post on X now almost certainly includes A.I.-generated replies, from summaries of the original post to reactions written in ChatGPT’s bland Wikipedia-voice, all to farm for follows. Instagram is filling up with A.I.-generated models, Spotify with A.I.-generated songs. Publish a book? Soon after, on Amazon there will often appear A.I.-generated “workbooks” for sale that supposedly accompany your book (which are incorrect in their content; I know because this happened to me). Top Google search results are now often A.I.-generated images or articles. Major media outlets like Sports Illustrated have been creating A.I.-generated articles attributed to equally fake author profiles. Marketers who sell search engine optimization methods openly brag about using A.I. to create thousands of spammed articles to steal traffic from competitors.

Then there is the growing use of generative A.I. to scale the creation of cheap synthetic videos for children on YouTube. Some example outputs are Lovecraftian horrors, like music videos about parrots in which the birds have eyes within eyes, beaks within beaks, morphing unfathomably while singing in an artificial voice, “The parrot in the tree says hello, hello!” The narratives make no sense, characters appear and disappear randomly, and basic facts like the names of shapes are wrong. After I identified a number of such suspicious channels on my newsletter, The Intrinsic Perspective, Wired found evidence of generative A.I. use in the production pipelines of some accounts with hundreds of thousands or even millions of subscribers.

As a neuroscientist, this worries me. Isn’t it possible that human culture contains within it cognitive micronutrients — things like cohesive sentences, narrations and character continuity — that developing brains need? Einstein supposedly said : “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be very intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” But what happens when a toddler is consuming mostly A.I.-generated dream-slop? We find ourselves in the midst of a vast developmental experiment.

There’s so much synthetic garbage on the internet now that A.I. companies and researchers are themselves worried, not about the health of the culture, but about what’s going to happen with their models. As A.I. capabilities ramped up in 2022, I wrote on the risk of culture’s becoming so inundated with A.I. creations that when future A.I.s are trained, the previous A.I. output will leak into the training set, leading to a future of copies of copies of copies, as content became ever more stereotyped and predictable. In 2023 researchers introduced a technical term for how this risk affected A.I. training: model collapse . In a way, we and these companies are in the same boat, paddling through the same sludge streaming into our cultural ocean.

With that unpleasant analogy in mind, it’s worth looking to what is arguably the clearest historical analogy for our current situation: the environmental movement and climate change. For just as companies and individuals were driven to pollute by the inexorable economics of it, so, too, is A.I.’s cultural pollution driven by a rational decision to fill the internet’s voracious appetite for content as cheaply as possible. While environmental problems are nowhere near solved, there has been undeniable progress that has kept our cities mostly free of smog and our lakes mostly free of sewage. How?

Before any specific policy solution was the acknowledgment that environmental pollution was a problem in need of outside legislation. Influential to this view was a perspective developed in 1968 by Garrett Hardin, a biologist and ecologist. Dr. Hardin emphasized that the problem of pollution was driven by people acting in their own interest, and that therefore “we are locked into a system of ‘fouling our own nest,’ so long as we behave only as independent, rational, free-enterprisers.” He summed up the problem as a “tragedy of the commons.” This framing was instrumental for the environmental movement, which would come to rely on government regulation to do what companies alone could or would not.

Once again we find ourselves enacting a tragedy of the commons: short-term economic self-interest encourages using cheap A.I. content to maximize clicks and views, which in turn pollutes our culture and even weakens our grasp on reality. And so far, major A.I. companies are refusing to pursue advanced ways to identify A.I.’s handiwork — which they could do by adding subtle statistical patterns hidden in word use or in the pixels of images.

A common justification for inaction is that human editors can always fiddle around with whatever patterns are used if they know enough. Yet many of the issues we’re experiencing are not caused by motivated and technically skilled malicious actors; they’re caused mostly by regular users’ not adhering to a line of ethical use so fine as to be nigh nonexistent. Most would be uninterested in advanced countermeasures to statistical patterns enforced into outputs that should, ideally, mark them as A.I.-generated.

That’s why the independent researchers were able to detect A.I. outputs in the peer review system with surprisingly high accuracy: They actually tried. Similarly, right now teachers across the nation have created home-brewed output-side detection methods , like adding hidden requests for patterns of word use to essay prompts that appear only when copied and pasted.

In particular, A.I. companies appear opposed to any patterns baked into their output that can improve A.I.-detection efforts to reasonable levels, perhaps because they fear that enforcing such patterns might interfere with the model’s performance by constraining its outputs too much — although there is no current evidence this is a risk. Despite public pledges to develop more advanced watermarking, it’s increasingly clear that the companies are dragging their feet because it goes against the A.I. industry’s bottom line to have detectable products.

To deal with this corporate refusal to act we need the equivalent of a Clean Air Act: a Clean Internet Act. Perhaps the simplest solution would be to legislatively force advanced watermarking intrinsic to generated outputs, like patterns not easily removable. Just as the 20th century required extensive interventions to protect the shared environment, the 21st century is going to require extensive interventions to protect a different, but equally critical, common resource, one we haven’t noticed up until now since it was never under threat: our shared human culture.

Erik Hoel is a neuroscientist, a novelist and the author of The Intrinsic Perspective newsletter.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

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