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Composite Culture and Multicultural Society1

Bhikhu Parekh

Multicultural societies confront us with a paradox: no society can be held together for long without a broadly shared culture, but by definition multicultural societies do not seem to have one. We therefore either give up on them or find ways of resolving the paradox. In this essay I explore the latter. I argue that multicultural societies need and, under propitious conditions, tend to throw up a ‘composite culture’. I begin with a brief discussion of the specificity of modern multicultural societies, and go on to outline the nature and logic of a composite culture.

Multicultural Society

Culture refers to a shared system of meaning in terms of which people understand themselves and ...

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