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Intercultural Relations and Cultural Diversity

diversity have been ongoing for a period of time and there is a need to look into the matter. Multiculturalism describes how different cultural communities relate. There are norms that govern the multiculturalism which includes the principle of justice. However, this principle cannot be used in isolation and there must be an equal and open dialogue between the different cultures so that a consensus can be reached. Bhikhu Parekh saw that there is a need for the bridging the practice and the theory for the multiculturalist politics. To add, he was able to resist the temptations that came with inhibiting the development of multiculturalism, looking for the traditional inspiration as well as the temptation from the tradition of liberalism.

Also, there have been several theories that seek to explain a person’s sense of belonging as well as the multiculturalism. The national liberalists have come up with their own explanation on what makes a person to be part of a nation while Parekh too has his own ideas. The national identity is one of the factor that has been debated upon on whether or not it is important in the nations. To add, the values, beliefs and the norms of a culture are other factors that play along in guiding the cultures. The cultural as well as the political affiliation by a person may be influenced by the person’s sense of belonging. This paper will seek to evaluate Bhikhu Parekh’s criticism of the liberal naturalism and the approach that he used to bring unity among the citizens who had cultural diversities.


Bhikhu advocates for the inclusive conception of a polity as well as multiculturalism (Parekh, 2006). The conceptualization of the national identity idea with Bhikhu is different from that of the liberal nationalists. Parekh believes that it is important for the people to feel part and to be shaped by their polity’s identity. On the other hand, the liberal nationalists base their arguments on the national identity that they believe that the members of the nation need so as to feel part of it. They also believe that the national identity is crucial in the preservation of the traditional sources of authority as well as in the achievement of the set goals (Auer, 2004). In his idea, Parekh believes that there is no need of the national identity in the liberalism, instead, the national identities could be used to promote multiculturalism (Parekh, 2006).Therefore, theorizing multiculturalism might not be possible.

During the time of the European Economic Community, minority nationalism and the mass immigration is when Parekh began his writing on the national identity. People at that time had begun questioning on the way of life of the British and on how the foreigners were altering it. Several reasons could have caused most of the people to miss the concept by Parekh since most of the people in Britain do not think that most multiculturalists do not find the need of having a national identity. To add, the attention that Parekh devotes on the issue of national identity in his writings is limited hence the issue does not have much weight. In his writing, Parekh argued that not only were the national identities valuable to the political communities, they were also valuable to the people individually (Uberoi, Modood, and Parekh, 2015). In the political community, the national identities determine how the individuals behave when they are faced by challenges and also conceive collective goals.

In his ideas, Parekh speaks about a polity which is described as the territorial concentrated group of individuals who govern their collective affairs using beliefs, values, and norms, political and legal institutions (Uberoi, Modood, and Parekh, 2015). People tend to feel part of a nation that is a polity. The members of the polity are often conceptualized as interconnected to one another based on their shared territories and also based on their similarities like the religion or race. Parekh also believed that the polities were a partnership between the unborn, the dead and the living. The conservationists on the other hand believed that the nation was a group of individuals living together and they shared their culture, descent, history and territory and they passed this from one generation to another making the members in the nation to be familiar with each other. The conservationists there’re believed that there was a need to protect the heritage and adopt multiculturalism.

On the contrary, the liberalists believed that there people needed the beliefs, values and the norms of the cultures in the nations so that they would choose on what best suited them (Tamir, 1995). The liberals value the culture of the nation and they advocate for the governments to allow their people to have some freedom when it comes to issues relating with culture. With that advocacy, it means that the liberalists advocate for nationalism. Therefore, the belief by the liberal nationalists and that of Parekh differed. Both the liberal nationalists and the conservationists distinguish the need for a national identity and also explains what a national identity is. In his discussion, Parekh has two ways of discussing the national identity. First, he opposes the ideas of the national identity by the liberals and describes it as an identity of a political community. To add, he argues that one would possess a national identity so that they can feel as part of the country they come from. However, the national liberalists do not distinguish between the national identities.

On the other hand, Parekh’s view on the political community was different. He saw it as a territorial group of people who were concentrated together and they accepted a similar mode of performing their collective procedures, norms, values, institutions, and common language (Parekh, 2006). To add, the individuals in the political community could pass the understandings to the children through teaching them in schools. Unlike the claim by Parekh, the liberal nationalists question the idea that there is a uniformity in the cultures, but are for the idea that the nations are the individuals who share a history as well as a territory. Therefore, the liberal nationalists do not consider the nations as culturally uniform. Describing the nations as culturally uniform would make it difficult for the nations to integrate other cultures from the immigrants. To add, the liberal nationalists claim that the cultures can offer meaningful livelihoods across the nations and taking into consideration both the private and the public spheres (Uberoi, 2015). However, with time the cultures change and the liberalists claim that the changes in the cultures ought to be controlled and the preference should be given to the immigrants who have the cultural values that are close to that of those nations. Therefore, the liberalists are accommodating to some cultures easily while at the same time they are unaccommodating to other cultures. This has been criticized by Parekh.

Additionally, Parekh, conceives the national identities without the nations, an issue which the liberal nationalists question. The liberal nationalists claim that a nation has to have an identity therefore their stand on the nations (Miller, 2013). Parekh also looked into the political communities with a great focus on the cultural as well as the ethic characteristics of a cultural and an ethnic majority. The cultural and ethnic minorities have been considered as outsiders even if they are legit citizens of the nations. Thereby showing that the minorities are discriminated and they may never fell as part of the community. To add, Parekh stated that the political community should not be understood according to the ethno cultural perspective since the ethno cultural minorities are mostly excluded in the decision making (Uberoi, Modood, and Parekh, 2015).

According to Parekh (2006), a national identity is key to the individuals who may believe that being identified with the nation is important to them. Therefore, the person uses the identity as an acknowledgment of how they are part of the nation. Parekh also views the multiculturalism as a vision of how a diverse polity will end up being. He also believes that the national identity would assist in achieving part of the vision. He shows the norms, values and the beliefs of the cultural groups and how they give diverse ways of thinking and they hence satisfy the needs of the people (Parekh, 2006). In the dominant theory, Parekh rethinks on how he can incorporate multiculturalism. However, the theory does not tell how the state would be able to accommodate diversity, instead, he gives the cultural and the philosophical context. He gives an emphasis on the most crucial features of the sate which included the transparency of the structures, the system of governance and the secular foundation. These are the rights and the personal liberties that the states gives to its citizens.

To add, the national identity acts as a unifying tool that the individuals use for example if they are faced by a challenge (Laborde, 2001). The unity is achieved when the individuals in the nation assume that the challenges are collective and hence devise goals that they all work towards achieving. When faced by way, they tend to be loyal to their nations and create unity in order to protect themselves. However, Parekh notes that the beliefs of a polity excludes the individuals that come from the cultural minorities who are viewed as outsiders thereby becoming a divisive concept. The discrimination and the exclusion of the cultural minorities make them to reject the groups that oppress them. The polities where the minority cultures are viewed as equal members, they are not mistreated and they become more likely to feel part of the group. Therefore, Parekh believes that there is need for inclusivity in the polities for unity. Therefore, for a multiculturalism, there is a need for unity between the members. To add, Parekh noted that there was no government that can force its citizens to think about themselves .Also, there is no single government that can advocate for one conception of a polity.

However, some critics believe that Parekh is both a nationalist and a liberalist. They believe that he had liberal ideas in his vision for a polity. Therefore, he seems to be like a liberal nationalist since his idea is similar to that of the liberal nationalists. To add, believed that it was important for countries to declare themselves as multiculturalists and teach that in schools so that the children can embrace multiculturalism and develop a nature that would include the minorities. Also, Parekh believed that there was a need to understand the political change that would happen in a nation so as to ensure that there is inclusivity (Laborde, 2001). He stated that the national identities ought to cultivate the trust, solidarity and obligation of the people. When asking about a person, Parekh noted that generally one would be asking about the individual’s overall identity, hence the need to understand whether a person’s identity changes over time or it remains the same. There are certain issues that the critics raise about the ideas by Parekh. They believe that the multiculturalism concept by Parekh has a more expansive range of politics compared to the liberalism however, the multiculturalism has been developed from the liberalism. Also, he believes that the relationship between the community and the individual is straightforward.

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To conclude, the study has revealed Parekh’s valuable and distinct thinking about the national identities. It gives two ways in which he believes that the national identities can be viewed in two dimensions and why people value them. To add, Parekh used nonacademic and the academic platforms to discuss the importance and the nature of the national identities. On the other hand, the national liberalists have their own views of the national identities and the multiculturalism at large. Parekh’s ideas can help the people who do not see the importance of the national identities because they believe that the people only need to belong to a polity and identify with it.


Auer, S., 2004. Liberal nationalism in Central Europe.

Laborde, C. (2001). The Culture(s) of the Republic: Nationalism and Multiculturalism in French Republican Thought. Political Theory, 29(5), 716-735. Retrieved April 29, 2021, from

Miller, D. (1995). On nationality. New York, Clarendon Press.

Miller, D. L. (2013). Citizenship and National Identity. Wiley.

Parekh, B. C. (2006). Rethinking multiculturalism cultural diversity and political theory. Basingstoke [England], Palgrave Macmillan

Tamir, Y. (1995). Liberal Nationalism. Princeton, Princeton University Press.

Uberoi, V., 2015. The ‘Parekh report’–national identities without nations and nationalism. Ethnicities, 15(4), pp.509-526.

Uberoi, V., Modood, T., & Parekh, B. C. (2015). Multiculturalism rethought: interpretations, diemmas and new directions: essays in honour of Bhikhu Parekh.

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