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date: 12 December 2018

Abstract and Keywords

Few ideas are as open to different interpretations these days, or as controversial, as multiculturalism. Like many other ‘isms’ — socialism, conservatism, fascism — multiculturalism is a political movement as well as a set of philosophical, social, and political ideas. Before looking at the range of positions associated with multiculturalism, this article first describes its historical origins and the social forces that came together to create it. ‘Multiculturalism’ is a term that has, in Nathan Blum's phrase, both ‘great currency’ and ‘imprecise usage’. It is also a relatively new word, making its first recorded appearances in Canada and Australia during the 1970s, at a time when both countries were struggling to deal with large influxes of non-European immigrants and with a new-found appreciation of the mistreatment of their own indigenous peoples.

Keywords: multiculturalism, political movement, social ideas, political ideas, social forces, non-European immigrants

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