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'Sharing the same roof'? : a consociational approach to the compatibility of cultural identity schools with liberal democratic values

This study critically examines the congruence of liberal democratic values with a conceptual framework for a national system of state-funded cultural identity schools. The study argues that the Modernist-Enlightenment response of difference-blind neutrality to the fact of social pluralism implicitly sanctions dominant socioeconomic structures. For this reason, the claim is made that the equal rights of citizenship justify cultural identity schools under a stance of difference-sensitivity. It is conceptualized that the existence of these schools benefit the liberal democratic state in two major ways. First, they incorporate non-Western immigrants into increasingly polyethnic societies as free and equal citizens. Second, in an era where deliberative democracy is threatened by global market forces, these schools serve as engines of healthy civil society by reinvigorating local voluntary associations. The study looks to the state educational system of the Netherlands to empirically ground theoretical formulations. For almost a century, the government there has funded and regulated a diverse array of schools with considerable autonomy in pedagogical content and practices. In terms of group rights, the educational structure reflects the historical experience of pillarization, a form of legal pluralism which proportionately distributed resources and political representation to national subgroups. The thesis proposes educational pillarization has utility to the current problem of disaffected immigrant groups in Western democratic states. Especially with regard to pleas for state-funded Islamic schooling, the study modifies consociational theory to reconcile imperatives for religo-cultural development and rights with those for liberal democratic principles. The study concludes that the consensus-making processes at the heart of legal pluralism encourage intercultural competence and reconfigure the meaning of citizenship to reflect the exigencies of the present day. Though many people see freedom from their childhood/received cultures as enriching, cultural attachments, provide the psychological terrain for evaluating the meaning of choice. However, a delicate balance exists. The study argues that cultural identity schools should not close students off from alternate life pathways since the right to exit or modify one’s culture is firmly embedded in liberalism.
Date January 2014
CreatorsBohler, Thomas Joachim
PublisherDurham University
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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