Multiculturalism as discussed in this entry refers to policies that support the preservation and egalitarian treatment of intergroup differences and distinct minority and majority group identities within a unified state. People of diverse cultural and linguistic groups have had contact with one another throughout known human history. However, contact now takes place in the context of rapid globalization, involving the movement of hundreds of millions of people around the world and the global expansion of communications, transportation, and trade. A major challenge confronting humankind at local, national, regional, and international levels is how to better manage intergroup contact, as well as cultural diversity.

Multiculturalism stands in contrast to assimilation, which is defined as the melting away of intergroup differences through market forces, govern ment policy, or ...

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