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Multicultural practices of Canadian immigrant youth : "a work in progress" Bisaro, Roberta A.

Abstract

This ethnographic study is placed in a space between the principles and laws that come under the purview of multiculturalism and the way in which they are received and enacted in the everyday lives of student groups at a secondary school in Vancouver, BC. Using de Certeau's "logic of action," I view student multicultural practices are viewed as a set of "tactics" measured according to a principle of "usefulness" set against an official or ideological background of rights and privileges within a multiculturalism of mutual respect, integration, harmonious intergroup relations, social cohesion and a shared sense of Canadian identity. Student expressions of "distinctness," belonging and identity are examined using Charles Taylor's approach to a "Canadian multiculturalism." Student groups within a locale transform multiculturalism as policy into a tactical multiculturalism of "distinctness" in which propriety further suggests a multiculturalism based on recognition and individual rights. Using the ideas of Charles Taylor and Will Kymlicka, a system of "strong" (cohesive) and "weak" (fragmenting) multiculturalism is identified in the practices of three institutionally composed groups of students - "ESL," "Regular," and "IB." This system is further nuanced by taking account of a richly textured "background" or context in which multiculturalism is practiced. I arrived at an idea of multiculturality, a stylistic spectrum that varies from a passive multiculturalism of "distinctness" with its emphasis stereotypical and bounded forms, to an active style that looks more to historical contingencies and dynamics of context consistent with a Taylorian multiculturalism of dialogue, a discussion of value moving towards a "fusion of horizons" (Gadamer). Based on the study, some suggestions are made regarding pedagogical directions with respect to multiculturality.

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