Nations, Cities and Organizations
The Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei series on Economics, the Environment and Sustainable Development
Edited by Maddy Janssens, Myriam Bechtoldt, Arie de Ruijter, Dino Pinello, Giovanni Prarolo and Vanja M.K. Stenius
Chapter 3: Sustainable Diversity and Inequality: Race in the USA and Beyond
Phillip J. Bowman and John J. Betancur Di-ver-si-ty – n. 1. quality, state, fact, or instance of being diverse; difference; 2. variety. Sus-tain – vt. 1. to keep in existence, maintain, or prolong/ sustainable – adj. 1. capable of being sustained; 2. designating of, or characterized by a practice that sustains a given condition, as economic growth or human population, without destroying or depleting natural resources. In the 21st century, the evolving social science and popular discourses on diversity highlight critical diversity conflicts, benefits, and related public policy issues as major challenges. By definition, the concept of diversity refers to ‘difference’, ‘variety’, or the ‘fact or quality of being diverse’. However, the social meaning of the diversity construct in the United States of America (US) and beyond has become increasingly controversial – especially in reference to racial/ethnic differences. Within this context, the emerging construct of sustainable diversity raises some especially pressing public policy challenges regarding how to maintain and even benefit from intergroup differences in human populations. Such public policy challenges are especially poignant for the US, European countries and other nations where racial and/or ethnic diversification is too often characterized by related inequalities and sociopolitical tensions. With a focus on both the US and global contexts, Marger (2000) suggests that the sustainability of racial/ethnic1 diversity in any nation depends on adaptive public policies to manage related inequality, inequity and conflict: Although ethnic harmony may typify few contemporary multi-ethnic societies, there are encouraging instances of the diminishment of ethnic conflict, as in South Africa,...
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