Chapter 11: The politics of multiculturalism and redistribution: Immigration, accommodation, and solidarity in diverse democracies
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For half a century, liberal-democratic nations have struggled to adapt to new waves of immigration and the ethno-racial diversity it brings in its wake. In the ensuing debates, few issues have provoked more controversy or have been more polarizing than the adoption of multiculturalism policies (MCPs) in response to contemporary diversity. Several heads of government have pronounced multiculturalism a failure. Critics blamed MCPs for cementing social divisions and weakening support for the welfare state, and proposed a different path for the future. Yet, as we shall see, MCPs have proven remarkably resilient. They are not dead or even in retreat. In the decade 2010-2020, the number of countries that adopted new MCPs or strengthened existing ones was much greater than the number of countries that abandoned policies they had adopted earlier. This chapter explores this paradox. It first demonstrates that, despite the political storms, MCPs for immigrants have proven remarkably resilient, and explores the reasons for their persistence. The chapter then turns to one of the core criticisms of the multicultural approach, testing arguments that MCPs weaken support for the welfare state. We review existing studies of this question, and then present new updated evidence. Both sets of evidence find no support for the criticism. Indeed, the evidence points to a positive relationship between MCPs and public support for the redistributive state. We then extend the analysis to the new frontier of debate about the welfare state, examining whether MCPs have an impact on the extent of welfare chauvinism, the exclusion of immigrants from social programs.

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