Must Interculturalists misrepresent multiculturalism?

Comparative Migration Studies. 2017;5(1):1-17 DOI 10.1186/s40878-017-0058-y


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Journal Title: Comparative Migration Studies

ISSN: 2214-594X (Online)

Publisher: SpringerOpen

Society/Institution: IMISCOE (International Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion)

LCC Subject Category: Social Sciences: Communities. Classes. Races: Urban groups. The city. Urban sociology: City population. Including children in cities, immigration

Country of publisher: Netherlands

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF, HTML



Tariq Modood (Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship, SPAIS, University of Bristol)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 13 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Abstract Statements of and advocacy for interculturalism always seems to begin with a critique of multiculturalism and aspire to offer a new and alternative paradigm of diversity and citizenship. With particular reference to a recent publication, which marks the current state of the art debate between the two ‘isms’, I suggest that the critique is often not based on an engagement with multiculturalist authors but targets popular (mis)perceptions of multiculturalism. A consequence of this is that interculturalists fail to appreciate the limitations of their critique and of their claim to novelty. The newness of interculturalism may relate to the normative significance of the majority but less to intercultural dialogue or to an anti-essentialism. While interculturalism has a contribution to offer, eg, by a focus on micro-level interactions, on superdiversity and by challenging multiculturalists to think about the majority, it is best understood as a version of multiculturalism rather than as an alternative paradigm. Multiculturalism can benefit from the contribution of interculturalism but this may involve moderating interculturalist ideas so, for example, not abandoning an anti-essentialism that is consistent with the sociological reality of groups, or by taking on board the normative significance of the majority but without accepting the idea of a majority precedence. In this way what is of value in interculturalism can be taken on board within existing multiculturalist theoretical frameworks.