Know thyself : anthropological praxis and Canadian multiculturalism

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Spice, Kevin Gerard
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This thesis provides an anthropological perspective of multiculturalism through an examination of multicultural terms and concepts, the political history of multiculturalism, and the implementation of a survey with a multicultural organization. This is done by building on Barth's and later Eriksen's concepts on ethnicity, Goodenough's position on the nature of culture and his ideas that multiculturalism is a normal human experience, and Greenbaum's ideas on the realities and implications of what it means to live in a multicultural society. An historical analysis of the events that led to the introduction of Canada's Multiculturalism policy and its subsequent development provides a diachronic understanding of the historical context and relationships between Canadian groups. Examination of the Report of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism and other writings provide insight into the many influences that have constructed multiculturalism and the contemporary relationships between Canadian groups. A microlevel study is completed to provide a complementary understanding of multiculturalism at the local level. A strategic planning technique called the Delphi survey was designed and implemented with a local non-profit multicultural organization called the Manitoba Multicultural Resources Centre. The analysis of the goals and problems of the voluntary organization provides both qualitative and quantitative data for a unique insight into the organizational culture of a multicultural organization. The Delphi survey also provides an understanding of the problems often experienced by voluntary organizations. An argument is made that Canadian institutions have been ineffective at establishing goals for multiculturalism and at resolving conflict among Canadian groups. Enveloping this examination of multiculturalism is an examination of anthropological praxis as an analytical framework to understand, develop and influence multiculturalism. An argument is made that anthropology can be developed as a discipline to address social issues through social policy. The literature on anthropology as a policy science and anthropological praxis is examined. Attempts are made to understand the current environment of values, politics, processes and concerns in which multiculturalism operates. The argument concludes that massive socio-political changes have led to a situation in which Canadians must come to terms with what it means to live in a plural society. Knowing ourselves is the first step. Only a disciplined process of research, debate, negotiation, implementation and compromise will effectively address multiculturalism issues.