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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Creating cosmopolis : the end of mainstream Dang, Steven R.

Abstract

Increasing cultural globalisation and the assertion of cultural identities present an interesting opportunity for cities in the postmodern Western World. An increasingly multi-situated polity must better reflect and serve an increasingly self-aware and heterogeneous population in search of better planning, community and social justice. A great deal of research in diversity issues has been conducted in various disciplines, but there is little integration of this theory and even less instruction as to its application. This thesis attempts to address the deficiencies - providing some rationale and some guidance towards the diversification of civic culture as a model of incorporation. Diversification requires a significant shift in our understanding of culture, identity, community and self - an end to mainstream and its hegemony. It places the onus for change on local institutions and operates on an assumption of difference, a desire for meaningful incorporation and a commitment to equality as equity. These principles translate into the pursuit of increasingly differentiated benefits, inclusive participation, varied discourse and inclusive definitions. For the transformation to be truly meaningful and systemic, it must take place in all agencies of civic culture: government, civil society, business, the media and family. A conceptual, prescriptive and evaluative framework for cultural diversification is thus elaborated. Change will require deliberate purpose and action. This thesis attempts to provide some direction by applying the discussion to a level at which most urban leaders, planners and cultural producers work. A local organisation in Vancouver, Canada - a reputed leader in diversity - is selected as a case to illustrate application of the developed framework and to enrich it with an initial investigation of how practitioners work towards the diversification of their individual institutions and their larger socio-cultural environment. It is hoped that strategies learned here, and in future applications of this research, can provide guidance for other organisations and that numerous small efforts will be rewarded with the gradual transformation of the whole.

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