In the last 20-30 years, the notion of cultural pluralism has gained popular support and offers an alternative approach to dealing with difference. Rooted in the philosophy of multiculturalism (Spivak, 1987; Taylor, 1994), pluralism requires the the dominant culture (of either states or organisations) accepts rather than absorbs cultural differences through co-existence rather than integration. In other words cultural pluralism is far more sympathetic to the notion of diversity and is aimed at developing policies and mechanisms of adjustment to difference.
Needless to say, both cultural assimilation and cultural pluralism engender different kinds of conflicts and tensions. Assimilation leads to the suppression of cultural differences and results in resentment among minority groups and unrealistic expectations of cultural integration among majority groups. Cultural pluralism, on the other hand, leads to struggles ove cultural spaces in organisations and societies. Many of the chapters in this volume will either directly or indirectly touch upon some of the issues raised here.
Additionally, as workplace diversity gains increasing visibility and legitimacy in organisational and academic worlds, it is also confronted with a whole host of new challenges, opportunities and dilemmas. The remainder of this chapter addresses some of them in greater detail.
Attribution: Konrad.A, Prasad, P. & Pringle, J. Sage publications, London, 2006. Page 4