PSCI 235
Multiculturalism and Political Theory Fall 2009
Division II Exploring Diversity Initiative
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Class Details

Liberal democracies today face demands for greater recognition and accommodation by ethnic, racial, religious, sexual, and linguistic minorities. Political theory has had much to say about these claims in recent years, especially where they intersect with liberal and democratic principles and practices. This course explores key justice claims made by minority communities in liberal democracies, ranging from demands for greater political representation by particular communities and recognition for their distinct identities, to calls for special group rights and arrangements, and even to forms of self-government and self-determination. We will also assess the justifications typically offered by groups to back up their claims–justifications that appeal to the value of culture identity and cultural membership, the importance of community self-preservation, and the benefits of diversity, amongst other things. Special attention will be paid to areas of tension between the practices and demands of cultural minorities on the one hand and particular liberal-democratic norms, values, and institutions on the other. In addition to considering particular theories for cultural group recognition, we will explore arguments against formal multiculturalism, such as those that appeal to moral and political “cosmopolitanism” and those that call for a politics of social and economic redistribution over a politics of cultural identity. Part of the College’s Exploring Diversity Initiative, this course invites students to reflect critically on the ways that diversity matters to social and political life, as well as to learn and theorize about alternative ways of engaging and recognizing social differences.
The Class: Format: lecture/discussion
Limit: 25
Expected: 25
Class#: 1184
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: 2 papers (4-8 pages), class participation, Blackboard reflection postings, and final exam
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Political Science majors
Distributions: Division II Exploring Diversity Initiative
Attributes: AMST Critical and Cultural Theory Electives
PSCI Political Theory Courses

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