Chapter 4: Religious Diversity in Lebanon: Lessons from a Small Country to the Global World
Akram Al Ariss Introduction The term ‘diversity’ is largely used in the American and British management literatures in the context of a workplace where different people interact. For example, people could differ in non-visible attributes such as education and professional experience and in visible attributes like gender and ethnicity (Pelled, 1996). The meaning of diversity varies across societies (Jones et al., 2000; Hofstede, 2007). For instance, while in the United States, diversity is used in regard to ethnic groupings such Asians or Latinos (Casey and Corday, 2006), in France it is largely understood in terms of gender (for example, Ariss, 2006; Battle, 2007) and cultural differences (Point and Singh, 2003). In Lebanon, a 10,452km2 Arab country located in Western Asia, there are 17 religious communities officially acknowledged by the government (Maktabi, 1999). Accordingly, diversity is officially implemented and commonly understood in Lebanese society in terms of religious belonging (Kabbara, 1991; Picard, 1997; Hudson, 1999). Religious communities in Lebanon are commonly denoted by the term ‘confessions’ (Haddad, 2002), most of them belong to Christian (such as Maronites and Protestants) and Muslim (such as Sunnis and Shiites) religions (ibid.). Confessionalism in Lebanon is an official religious diversity scheme that distributes institutional power proportionally among various religious communities. The aim of this scheme is to secure balanced power sharing. Hence, positions in government and parliament are allocated between religious communities according to their demographic proportion in the country. In this way, the Lebanese government formally acknowledges rights of religious groups (majority and...
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