The Idea and Diverse Reality of Multiculturalism: Are They Applicable to Newly Independent States?


Multiculturalism is one of the most frequently used words in contemporary social/cultural research. It appeared in the 1960s – early 1970s in Canada which tried to resolve the clash of English and French communities and organized nation-wide hearings of a Royal Commission on the subject. In 1975 Jean Burnet defined multiculturalism as a policy of supporting multiethnicity within the national institutions of the English and French cultures [1]. After adoption of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act in 1988 it became an officially legitimized term. The Act placed an obligation on the government to protect all individuals, to ensure their equal participation in social life, equal treatment and equal protection under the law – “while respecting and valuing their diversity”. It stated that “multiculturalism… acknowledges the freedom of all members of Canadian society to preserve, enhance and share their cultural heritage” [2].

In the USA the idea of “multiculturalism” has been rooted in the social and intellectual atmosphere of the Civil Rights movements of the 1960s’. It became widely used in the context of public school curriculum reform, which started in the early 1980s. Reform was directed at eliminating the so called “Eurocentric” bias in education and providing a culturally more “diverse” curriculum. Since the late 1980s the “multicultural explosion” has taken place in american social publications. Nathan Glazer has revealed, that in 1988 there was no reference to this term in the Nexis data base, in 1989 there were mere 33 references, but in 1991 – more than 600, in 1993 – 1200, in 1994 – 1500. In Oxford English Dictionary the word ‘multiculturalism’ also appeared first in 1989 [3]. Eminent neoconservative sociologist, Glazer himself recognized inevitability of multiculturalism for the United States, first of all, because previous assimilationist doctrine proved ineffective in the field of integrating African-Americans into the larger national community.

 At present the term multiculturalism represents the mainstream terminology of postmodern discourse. Specialists in different fields of social science use it in different meanings and differently evaluate it as a tool of ethnic research and as a principle of ethnic policy. Strong supporters of this doctrine stress its humanistic core, its correlation with respect and recognition of human dignity of individuals from all cultural groups. Its opponents insist that it works as a divisive force that contains a danger of undermining the national unity. While controversy goes on, more and more states include elements of multiculturalism in their public policy programs.

Multiculturalism is used to refer not only to ethnic, but also language and sexual identities. In this paper multiculturalism will be considered as a political concept, from the point of view of that branch of political science, which deals with ethnic relations and national consolidation and is usually designated in Ukraine as Ethno-Politology. After clarifying the meaning of multiculturalism in comparison with terms of cultural diversity and cultural pluralism and highlighting its main positive and negative features and effects, I would like to briefly describe the type and level of ethnic/regional diversity in Ukraine and to meditate upon the aspects and degree, in which multiculturalism might be a means of ethnic/national policy in my country. The concept that I will dwell upon in this paper may be called integrative multiculturalism. It does not contradict the aim of national consolidation and, in my view, represents the optimal choice for nation-building and ethnic policies in newly independent states.

Notions of cultural diversity, cultural pluralism and multiculturalism.

Sometimes the term multiculturalism is used for the description of societies that consist of different ethnic/cultural groups.  “Multiculturalism as a fact refers to the presence of people of diverse racial or ethnic backgrounds within a single polity”, – say authors of a serious sociological research [4]. They contrast this “factual” or “demographical” meaning of “multiculturalism” with “multiculturalism as an ideology”. In my view, such broad use of the term is unjustified. Since all “-isms” denote principles, ideas, ideologies, or policies, it might be expedient to reserve the term multiculturalism for this last meaning. In this case, we can successfully separate notions of cultural diversity – availability of different cultural groups in a society, cultural pluralism – institutionalized diversity, and multiculturalismideology and policies that recognize and support (to certain extent) this (institutionalized or not) cultural diversity. The Canadian Multiculturalism Act implies exactly this denotation of terms when it states that “multiculturalism reflects the cultural and racial diversity of Canadian Society…” A kind of multicultural (culturally diverse) situation in a society may require or stimulate introduction of multiculturalism as an ideology or principle of public policy, but it is not to say that they are always at place. In a culturally diverse (multicultural) society there may be no multiculturalism as an ideological doctrine or policy.

In a sense, all societies are culturally and, taken more narrowly, ethnically diverse though not to the same degree. The degree matters, because it determines very often the readiness of the ruling elite and the broader public to recognize diversity as a normal state of affairs and multiculturalism as an adequate principle of treating it. Of course, much depends on cultural tradition and political will. There is a big dissimilarity between societies whether they try or not to adopt and implement the rules of inter-ethnic relationships based on the idea of multiculturalism. There is a big difference both in understanding and implementation of the policy of multiculturalism even in democratic countries.

Why multiculturalism and what is good in it?

The main political reasons for transfer to multiculturalist policies are:

1) Inability of democratic states to reconcile the goal of national unity with the reality of ethnic/cultural diversity by classical liberal means of assimilation. The latter was replaced, therefore, in many countries by multiculturalism, which went beyond the civil and political rights guaranteed to all individuals. As K. Banting and W. Kymlicka point out, multiculturalism includes certain level of support of minority ethnic cultures and identities, recognition of some sort of collective rights of ethnic groups (which do not deny the liberal rights of man). It extends (especially, in Canada) from educational programs for immigrant groups to the acceptance of territorial autonomy and language rights for national minorities, and to the recognition of land claims and self-government rights for indigenous peoples [5].

2) Contemporary nations-states have to meet the demands of ethnic political movements, which insist on multicultural approach. The hyphenated Americanism, deplored in the ‘progressive era’ in the USA, became again legitimate in the 1960s-70s. The name African-American, which stressed not so much race, but different culture of black Americans, appeared at this time within the Civil Rights movements and then became broadly accepted.

Under the pressure of the new social reality, widely known expert in social and educational policy, neoconservative sociologist Nathan Glazer, who previously was a firm supporter of assimilation policies, recognized hat there is no alternative to multiculturalism in the USA. America was unable to resolve its basic racial problem by classic liberal means. “Multiculturalism  is the price, – Glazer argues, – America is paying for its inability or unwillingness to incorporate into its society African Americans, in the same way and to the same degree it has incorporated so many groups.” [6] “We are all multiculturalists now” – he states. “The fight is over how much, what kind, for whom, at what ages, under what standards. To say one is ‘for’ or ‘against’ multiculturalism without going through all this effort is not to say much”. [7]

Except political, there are moral and social-psychological reasons for popularity of multiculturalism in postmodern epoch. Moral considerations are integrative part of the theoretical basis for multiculturalism, stated in the works of Charles Taylor, Will Kymlicka, Bhikhu Parekh [8]. They claim, that people in postmodern epoch a) became more sensitive to the questions of dignity and, as a result, more opposed to all kinds of oppression or merely domination; b) they require recognition of their self, their origin, their culture; c) they do not agree to be equal formally, pretending for real, visible equality of treatment. Immorality of any kind of pressure against ethnic groups became entirely apparent after genocide used by totalitarian regimes in the XX century. Assimilation, W. Kymlicka urges, which supposes certain measure of pressure, looks now neither just, nor necessary.

The shift in mind and perception of the world around us, which occurred during a few last decades, also lies at the bottom of multiculturalist argumentation. In postmodern discourse people’s, especially, artists’ and researchers’ interests have shifted to “other”, “particular”, “part”. Not a state, but a region; not a typical, but peculiar; not a norm but a deviation are now in the focus of investigation. In the realm of ethnic/national relationships this shift is regarded to be a major reason for ethnic renaissance even in stable democracies with high standard of living and for multiculturalism as a demand of ethnically based movements.

Need for balances and restrains. Integrative multiculturalism.

The conclusion from these premises may sound like this: contemporary nation-states have to deal with ethnic and cultural differences without violating people’s expectations, without disgracing them, respecting their human dignity, taking into account the global strive for equality of treatment and equality of respect. At the same time a contemporary state, like a state at any other time, is obliged to find effective means of developing a core value system, capable to unite people, to make them a civic community. This is a major restrain, especially important for newly-borne political nations. The necessity of it becomes obvious when we take into account three distinct, though interdependent tendencies on the international scene, peculiar to the era of globalization. These tendencies are: (1) the interplay of rather strong and dynamic modern states, eager to influence the course of world politics, on one side, and to be effective in their domestic policy, on the other; (2) the growing subjection of national states to supranational bodies and/or to stronger players in the globalized world, threat of their absorption or dissolution; (3) standardization and unification of people’s life styles both among nations and within separate nation-states.

The inevitable reaction to the third tendency is a search for preserving distinctive identity within the small, self-governing communities, devotion to primary religious, linguistic, cultural ties and historical traditions. While the support of the first tendency and resistance to the second one require of peoples and states adherence to the principles of national unity, patriotism and solidarity. 

Giving proper consideration to these contradictory tendencies, governments of democratic states, both stable and transitional, try to base their ethnic/national policies on the doctrine of weak, integrative multiculturalism as opposed to the strong, mosaic multicultural vision.  The rich history of nation-building in democratic countries can help find that golden mean which separate one form of multiculturalism from another.

In theory researchers speak about two approaches to the essence of multiculturalism, using different adjectives. ‘Hard’ or ‘strong’ multiculturalism is a synonym of  ‘particularistic’, ‘radical’, ‘illiberal’ policy, defending ethnic cultures and ignoring interests of a larger community. ‘Soft’ or ‘weak’ multiculturalism is ‘pluralistic’, ‘moderate’ and ‘liberal’. It is oriented at reconciling group and individual rights and interests, at preserving ethnic cultures in parallel with expanding umbrella-like political national identity on all ethnic groups.

As special sociological survey in the USA has shown hard multiculturalism is atypical for the democratic nations. It was rejected in all ethnic groups.  For example, 74 per cent of African-Americans disagreed with the statement ‘blacks should always vote for black candidates when they run’ (1993); more than half of them (58 per cent) viewed themselves as ‘just an American’ on ‘all’ political issues. In fact, liberal political self-identification boosts support for multiculturalism, while racial hostility is a consistent source of antagonism to it. [9]

There are big differences in understanding and implementing the principle of multiculturalism by such countries as USA, Canada and Switzerland, not to mention France or Germany. But what is important: advocates of multiculturalism in all of them treat this principle as a value that does not deny but promotes national unity. It means that they support integrative multiculturalism which performs its mission of uniting without unification through helping ethnic minorities to resolve their problems and achieving better agreement among groups. The aim – national unity and stability – remains. What changes – is the way of its attainment. Instead of homogenization of the society by means of assimilation, which in contemporary situation may alienate smaller groups, advocates of integrative multiculturalism propose national consolidation through taking into consideration their interests, supporting their cultures, diversity of their lifestyles, and trying, at the same time, to achieve consensus of all groups on the most crucial political issues.

That means a transfer from policy of assimilation to policy of integration (R. Grillo), opening the door to the process of national consolidation without cultural homogenization. The slogan: “Unity though homogeneity” is being changed into another one: “Unity through diversity”.

According to B. Parekh, multiculturalism is aimed at finding “ways of reconciling the legitimate demands of unity and diversity, of achieving political unity without cultural uniformity, and cultivating among its citizens both a common sense of belonging and a willingness to respect and cherish deep cultural differences” [10]. It holds up (and demands) respect, tolerance, equal treatment and equal opportunity for the whole spectrum of culturally different groups. As a principle of public policy multiculturalism demands that ethnic-cultural diversity and pluralism were recognized as a norm of contemporary societies.

“Dark sides” and negative effects of multiculturalism

Opposition to this shift in ethnic policy is represented by well known scholars from different fields of study: from conservative moral philosopher Edward Shils, who spoke about “the destruction of national spirit” [11], to liberal historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., who sees in multiculturalism real danger of escalating antagonism and hatred [12], to world-wide known specialist in globalization Samuel Huntington, who accuse multiculturalists of rejecting the countries historical heritage and of wishing “to create country of many civilizations, which is to say a country not belonging to any civilization and lacking a cultural core”. “In an era in which peoples everywhere define themselves in cultural terms what place is there for a society without a cultural core and defined only by a political creed?” – asks Huntington. [13]

British anthropologist Ralf Grillo, who prefers the term “multicultural pluralism”, states that “whatever the terminology, crucial questions remain: how much diversity, of what kind, and on what basis? What kind of pluralism is possible or desirable in countries like Britain, France, and the USA, where there is commitment to universalistic, democratic ideals?” (Italics mine – A. K.) Grillo answers on these questions in the sub-chapter, titled “Against Multiculturalism”.  Citing other opponents of multiculturalism, he condenses the anti-multiculturalists arguments in six positions: “(1) multiculturalism’s implicit essentialism; (2) the system of categorization which underpins it; (3) the form that multiculturalist politics takes; (4) the ritualization of ethnicity often associated with it; (5) the elision of race (and class) that it appears to entail; (6) the attack on the ‘common core’ which it represent” [14].

The last position is one of the strongest and most frequently used by critics of the idea. It states that multiculturalism is a divisive doctrine. Diversity, taken by multiculturalists as a virtue, produces popular culture that hastens self-destruction of civic national communities, or, as A. Schlesinger has put it, has an effect of disuniting America. Stress on differences and authentic cultures produces movement known as “Afrocentrism”. It tries to overcome inferiority complex of Black Americans by selling wishful for real and falsifying American history. Schlesinger appeals to traditional liberal argumentation, saying that American Constitution “turns on individual rights, not on group rights”. [15] While some conservative critics add that multiculturalism insults national intelligence and individual dignity and decreases national security. Multiculturalism fosters differences and entails a threat of splitting a society instead of uniting it, promoting solidarity and patriotism. 

 Probably, this is the most serious objection, and it might be met, in my view, through developing and implementing what has been presented here as a doctrine of integrative multiculturalism.

There are, however, some other points of objection, which relate to the theory and to the practice of multiculturalism. Disapproval of multiculturalism on theoretical basis addresses to its beliefs purportedly derived from “moral relativism”. Since moral relativism claims that “we cannot judge people outside of their own ethical beliefs”, multiculturalism supposedly “holds that a tribe of blood-thirsty cannibals is not morally worse than a civilized, peaceful nation. It holds that Nazi Germany was the equivalent of the United States” [16].

This is an example of big inaccuracy when opponents downgrade the criticized concept to the extreme and then easily “disprove” it. The fact, confirmed by cited above sociological survey, is that all major advocates of multiculturalism are liberals. They defend liberal value of individual rights, amending it by recondition of collective right so far, as the latter do not deny the former. W. Kymlicka directly claims, that liberal theory of minority rights “must explain how minority rights co-exist with human rights, and how minority rights are limited by principles of individual liberty, democracy and social justice”. In his own theory this is explained through the concepts of “internal restrictions and external protections”. “In short, – Kymlicka states, – a liberal view requires freedom within the minority group, and equality between the minority and majority groups. A system of minority rights that respects these two limitations is, I believe, impeccably liberal. It is consistent with, and indeed promotes, basic liberal values” [17].  

In practical realm there is a statement, that multiculturalism is wrong because it is used as a tool of isolating one ethnic group from another, legitimizing racism and inequality. “In the Netherlands, ‘multicultural’ is systematically used as the opposite to ‘equality’, – says a critic. – A multicultural society is a society where African immigrants clean toilets and upper-middle-class ethnic Dutch are the lawyers, pilots, surgeons and bankers. The word ‘multicultural’ no longer carries any connotation of equality or respect – if it ever did. It implies the presence in society of ethnic minorities, but says nothing about their social status. Worse, it implies that all moral obligations have been met, when society is ‘multicultural’ in this sense” [18].

The answer on this complain, in my view, may be the next one. Policy of multiculturalism, like any other policies, faces some problems, which are more or less serious, depending on a country. One of them is a discrepancy between the ideal and reality, goals proclaimed and results achieved. It is worthy of notice that wishes and demands of minorities are contradictory in themselves. On one side, each smaller group demands to protect its “rights to full and equal opportunities” on the labor market and in society in general; on the other side, it requires “special ways of protecting [its] cultural identity”… [19] The best of known ways to reconcile these conflicting claims is a sort of integrative multiculturalism (again!) which as much corresponds to the interests of immigrants and other minorities, as to that of the majority groups.  “Given that the predominant motivation of immigrants is economic, it would only make sense for immigrants to seek a sort of “multiculturalism” which is consistent with their socio-economic integration into the larger society”, Kymlicka argues. [20]  

There is some cost of “cultural separatism”. Overstressing cultural autonomy, whatever its roots may be, sometimes may lead to bigger or lesser loss in equality. Well balanced program of the support of cultural diversity and integration may be a remedy. This is not a problem of principle. Rather, it is a question of real programming in a concrete country with certain alignment of political forces and intellectual background for ethnic/cultural policy.

Diversity, cultural pluralism, multiculturalism – all this places an additional burden upon a society. It is easy to predict a kind of objective contradictions between smaller and larger groups (an example of debates over the Rhaeto-Romance group in Switzerland is very revealing) in such societies. But what kind of other principles may be used instead of multiculturalism? And do they resolve those problems that multiculturalism cannot?

As it was mentioned above, the only alternative solution is assimilation based on the principle of ethnic/cultural homogeneity. Throughout the 19th century liberal theory regarded it a major condition of political stability. But at present such well-known political philosophers as Charles Taylor, Will Kymlicka and others disapprove it, showing that cultural assimilation is neither effective, no fair. They described numerous discrepancies between the goals proclaimed by classical liberal theory and real practice of ethnic policies based on it. They also proved that there are good possibilities to reconcile measures in defense of minority rights with classical liberal values. It may be done through the policies of integrative multiculturalism.

Though multiculturalism in theory and practice is a product of Western polyethnic societies which confront high waves of immigration, this concept, in my view, is of universal value. It helps to look for alternative ways in ethnic policies in any country, including post-soviet newly independent states. If assimilation is undesirable, ineffective, or unattainable, the multiculturalism remains the only means of resolving ethnic problems. The question that must be answered in this case is: what kind of multiculturalism is appropriate and how its general schemes should be adjusted to the conditions of a certain country.

Peculiarity of the Ukraine’s position

Thinking about “pro” and “con” multiculturalism as a principle of ethnic/national policy in Ukraine we have to keep in mind the differences:

  • between rich countries with stable old democracy in which state and national consolidation was attained in the epoch when assimilative approaches dominated and the politically young nation which has to accomplish national consolidation in the era of globalization;
  • between immigrant countries, where the state was based on universalistic liberal ideology and ‘melting pot’ metaphor from the beginning, and the country with domination of the indigenous people – ethnic Ukrainian nation that tries to build its own nation-state and thus to improve the position of culture and language of formally dominant Ukrainian ethnic nation and take responsibility for other ethnic groups in the country;
  • between nations, where quantitatively dominant ethnic groups had the strongest political and cultural positions, and formerly colonial or semi-colonial people like Ukrainians. A quantitative majority in Ukraine for the most part has a minoritarian status (or, at least, feelings), is divided into two lingual groups in the proportion 2/3 (Ukrainian speakers) to 1/3 (Russian speakers) and needs both political and cultural recovery and consolidation.

These peculiarities have to be taken into account. But they do not mean that the idea of multiculturalism has no relevance to Ukraine and other newly independent states. Why? The answer is, at first, because Ukraine has a culturally diverse population. Its most important cleavages are: regional, ethnic/language, religious, political/ideological. The extent and the pattern of the diversity have to be depicted further on the basis of statistical and sociological data.

Ethnic-cultural diversity in Ukraine.

The recurrent answers to the question: to what extent Ukraine is ethnically and culturally diverse – are rather extravagant and… misleading.  The latest national census stressed that in 2001 in Ukraine lived ‘representatives’ of 135 different ethnic groups. ‘Representatives’, of course, are not groups, especially if we take into account that some people registered themselves as representing Scythian, Cossacks, Assyrians, Malaysians and other exotic for Ukraine or generally non-existing nationalities. The figure of 135 looks absolutely fantastic if we compare it with officially recognized level of diversity in other countries. In my school-years there were 109 nations and peoples in the whole Soviet Union. The 1989 census estimation with regard to Ukraine was 127 nations and peoples.  At the same time, statistics of Canada show about 70 ethnic groups. In Switzerland other groups, except four major elements of Swiss political nation (German – 63,6 %, French – 19,2%, Italian – 7,6%, Rhaeto-Romance – 0,9%), compose 8,9% of the population and nobody counts how many ‘peoples’ they represent. In Ukraine ‘other groups’ (after Ukrainians and Russians) compose about 4% but, as we now know, represent “135 nations and peoples”.

In reality, Ukraine is composed of two big ethnic/national groups – Ukrainians and Russians; near 10-15 smaller ethnic groups, which demonstrate certain level of intra-group solidarity and social activity; one potentially national minority – Crimean Tatars. Linguistically population is divided approximately 50:50 into two groups of Russian- and Ukrainian-speakers and has deep regional differences on many indicators.  Since official census has been conducted in a harsh and was based on methodologically incorrect questions [21] it is important to compare its results with the data, taken from nationwide sociological surveys made approximately at the same time. I will site here materials of the poll conducted by the Center for social and marketing surveys ‘SOCIS’ in July 2000 [22]. It included many interesting questions concerning the ethnic and language self-identification; language used at home, attitudes to potential expansion of Russian and Ukrainian languages, judgments about an ethnic core for further national consolidation and so on.

Table 1 gives general picture of ethnic identities in Ukraine. It shows that there is a substantial difference between so called national/ethnic belonging (or ‘nationality’, connected with some kind of official identification) and self-identification of people with certain ethnic/social group.  

Table 1. Ethnic/National identities in Ukraine. 1989, 2000, 2001.

  all-national censuses  all-national poll (“SOCIS”)
(“ethnic origin”)
Ukrainians 72.7% 77.8% 76% 65.9%
Russians 22.1% 17.3% 20.8% 15.9%
Other ethnic groups 5.2% 4.9% 2.9% 1.7%
“soviet people”   12.6%
undecided 2.5%
other answers 1.4%

Important indicator of cultural identities in Ukraine is language. While national census gives data about ‘native language’, connected with ethnic origin of people, in sociological survey we asked about ‘language predominantly used at home’, which mirrors the language practices much better (see table 2).

Table 2.Languages in Ukraine. 1989, 2000, 2001.

  all-national censuses 1989 & 2001
(language attitudes)
all-national poll (“SOCIS”)
 (language use)
  native language
1989 (%)
native language
language, used at home
2000 (%)
Ukrainian 64.7 67.5 50.75
Russian 32.8 29.6 46.96
Other 2.5 2.9 2.29

On average, Ukrainian population is divided linguistically half-to-half. But this is not the case if we analyze language practices by region (see appendix 2). Intensive use of Ukrainian in the Western oblasts of Ukraine gives way to no less intensive use of Russian in the East. There are significant differences in language use by nationality (both ‘official’ and ‘self-defined’) as well.

Table 3. Share of Ukrainian and Russian speakers in groups with different ethnic belonging and ethnic/social self-identification

Ethnic/national identities Language, predominantly used at home
Ukrainian Russian Other Ukrainian Russian Other
national belonging (official) Ethnic/national self-identification
Ukrainians 65.68 32.39 1.93 69.34 29.69 0.98
Russians 3.26 95.88 0.86 6.07 92.81 1.12
other ethnic groups 20.96 72.24 6.80
“soviet people” 5.56 74.44 20.00 12.50 64.58 22.92
undecided 35.71 61.43 2.86
other answers 23.68 65.79 10.53
All groups 50.75 46.96 2.29 50.75 46.96 2.29

The table 3 indicates that only about 2/3 of Ukrainians speak at home predominantly Ukrainian: 66% of those who stated Ukrainian nationality and over 69% of those who identify themselves with Ukrainians; about 1/3 of them speak at home predominantly Russian and only 1-2% use other languages.  The bulk of Russian population speaks in Ukraine their native, Russian language.   This confirmed about 96 % of respondents of Russian nationality and near 93% of those who identify themselves with Russians. Ukrainian language is used respectively by 3% and 6% of Russians, other languages – by about 1% of population. Among those, who identified themselves with “Soviet people” or have been undecided with regard to their identity (this happens most frequently in mixed families), Russian speakers dominate also. There were more Ukrainian speakers, however, among “undecided” respondents (35.7%) than among those with soviet identity (20.96%).

Ukrainians and Russians differ not only in their current language practice but also in their attitude to the functioning of Ukrainian and Russian languages in the future. Near 87% of Russians and over 74 % of ‘soviets’ support (‘fully’ or ‘rather’) giving Russian the status of the second official language, while only 40% of Ukrainians agree with such proposition. Contrary to that is opinion with regard to broader usage of Ukrainian as a state language. With this proposition agreed (‘fully’ or ‘rather’) 69 % of Ukrainians but only 23 % of Russians and 27% of ‘soviets’ (See: Appendix 3. Figures 1,2 and tables 2,3).

Regional differences in many instances are deeper in Ukraine that ethnic ones within the same region. The reason for that is the decisive role of historical past (belonging to certain state, presence or absence of civic experience, legitimacy of communist regime) and economic/social structure in the past and today.  The map in the Appendix 1 shows major regions, distinguished on the basis of a overlapping historical, cultural, political and economic features. Table 1 of the Appendix 1 designate degree to which every region is Ukrainian in culture and self-identification.  

Differences in economic views are scarcely noticeable among regions, political – rather visible. And the most salient are dissimilarities in the perception of ethnic/national, language and foreign policy issues.  Attitudes to the revival of Ukrainian nation, selection (designation) of the cultural basis for its future consolidation, joining the new union with Russia, giving Russian the status of the second official language divide Ukraine’s regions into three to five types: from those in the West and North that fully support independent state, European choice, Ukrainian language and culture to those in the East and South that demonstrate what may be called Eurasian orientation, with one or few interim zones (See Appendix 3).

Level of political knowledge and type of political culture; ideological-political orientations also differ. Regional disparities in political/ideological orientations are not so much reflected in views and attitudes of a broad public, as in political culture and political commitments of regional elites, which play a decisive role in the establishment of political institutions and consolidation or, as it often happens in Ukraine, splitting society along ethnic and regional lines, especially in times of electoral campaigns. By their effort Ukraine has been divided into two parts in time of presidential election-94 and parliamentary election 2002 (see the map in the Appendix 4).

Qualitatively Ukraine’s ethnic/national structure may be pictured with the help of scheme, submitted in the Appendix 5. From its positions and the data that was expounded above, we may conclude that Ukraine may be described as a moderately diverse (in ethnic/cultural aspect) contemporary country with three complicating characteristics:

1) The major Ukrainian/Russian cultural and language cleavage coincide with regional and (to a large extent) political cleavage and this entails the threat of their institutional fixation and strengthening. This may turn Ukraine into a “divided” society with all following problems for the country with under-developed democratic culture, incapable to reach consensus by means of consociational democracy.  

2) The biggest ethnic minority represents formerly dominating group, which, by and large, is not yet ready to compromise concerning cultural core and official language of the future Ukrainian political nation. These questions require education, deliberation, and special treatment. What is just or unjust should be broadly debated, ad exemplum of the debate over bilingualism and ‘English as an official language’ proposition in the USA.

3) The titular Ukrainian ethnic nation is not itself very well consolidated, on one side, and its elite has poor understanding of the nature and necessity of civic national consolidation. Lack of clarity and consistency in the ethnic policy of Ukraine’s government coincides with low level of its legitimacy.

What should be recommended for the future advancement of ethnic policy under existing circumstances, having in mind world-wide trend to multiculturalism and pluralism?

Setting goals and finding means for national/ethnic policies in Ukraine

Answering the question, we should proceed from the major necessity of the country: political, economic and cultural integration. It means that even verbally we should substitute notion of ‘ethnic policy’ with ‘national/ethnic policy’, having in mind two-fold task: (1) national consolidation on political basis and (2) resolving ethnic/ cultural problems of minority and majority groups equally.  

In the era of globalization and postmodern views and values we cannot use assimilationist model of achieving national unity and consolidation. There are two major reasons for that: (a) assimilation does not correspondent to contemporary vision of fairness and will be condemned by national and international organizations on civil rights; in any minority/majority conflict they will take the side of minorities; (b) assimilation is unattainable because of the ethnic structure of Ukraine’s society. I have in mind, first of all, stable position of the major minority ethnic group in Ukraine – Russians. Their culture prevails in large and in many small cities. It is (and always will be) fed up and supported by Russian state. The bulk of Ukrainian Russians has the feeling of superiority of their culture and language and they will never agree to assimilate. Latest shift in their status from dominant to minority group makes them only more sensitive with regard to any attempts of assimilation. Remembering their position of a dominant group throughout the Soviet Union, they did not give up their pretensions for the leading role in the state-building process in Ukraine. Cited above all-national sociological survey has shown that less than 45% of Russians and a little more than 42% of ‘soviets’ fully or partially agree with the statement that ethnic Ukrainians constitute the core of Ukrainian people.

Taking into account unattainability of assimilation for internal reason and its undesirability for global and humanistic reasons, we should advise that Ukraine’s government and civil society use some moderate form of multiculturalist model, adapting it to the conditions of the initial stages of state and nation-building process in the country.

Limits of multiculturalism

Multiculturalism presupposes preservation of diversity. Diversity is at odds with the trend to rationalization. Rationalization demands of simpler and, at the same time, cheaper solutions, especially in the sphere of language. It demands of unification which is always in favor of bigger (or simply stronger, like Russians in Ukraine) groups.

Support of diversity entails a potential danger of splitting, disuniting national communities. To avoid this danger, ethnic policy must be accompanied by other measures, directed at national consolidation. In contemporary Ukraine national unity will depend on achieving consensus in the language sphere; finding and spreading social and political values, which may be recognized important and common for the whole nation; building up umbrella-like Ukrainian national identity, common for all citizens.

The idea of multiculturalism can never be implemented into reality in full, confronting many obstacles and contradictions – between large and small groups, first of all. It can be a means of national integration only in a case if it enhances the level of mutual trust and tolerance among ethnic groups; if both majority and minorities support this approach and believe that their interests are protected and views are respected; if support of diversity is accomplished not for the sake if diversity, but for the sake of better mutual understanding and respect, accompanied with other measures of integration.

[1] See: Burnet, Jean. “Multiculturalism, Immigration and Racism” // Canadian Ethnic Studies, 1975, Vol. 7. No. 1. P. 35-39 (Cited by Kymlicka, Will. Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights. Oxford: Clarendon Press; 1995. P. 17).  

[3] Glazer N. We Are All Multiculturalists Now. — Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press, 1997. – P. 7-8.

[4] Citrin Jack; David O. Sears; Christopher Muste; Cara Wong. “Multiculturalism in American Public Opinion” // British Journal of Political Science.  01 April, 2001 (Volume 31; Issue 2).

[5] Banting, Keith; Kymlicka, Will. “Multiculturalism and welfare” // Dissent, October 1, 2003 (Volume 50; Issue 4) (inf:; July 5, 2004)

[6] Glazer N. Op. cit. – P.147.

[7] Ibid. – P. 19.

[8] Taylor, Charles. “The Politics of Recognition” / In Amy Gutmann, ed. Multiculturalism and the ‘Politics of Recognition. – Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992; Kymlicka, Will. Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights. Oxford: Clarendon Press; 1995.  Parekh Bhikhu. What is multiculturalism? (; July 5, 2004).

[9] See: Citrin J. a. o. Op. cit. Inroduction.

[10] Parekh, Bhikhu. What is multiculturalism? (; July 5, 2004)

[11] Шилз Е. А. Нація, національність, націоналізм і громадянське суспільство // “Ї”. – 2001. –  Число 21. – С. 101.

[12] Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr. The Disuniting of America. Reflections on a Multicultural Society. – New York; London: W. W. Norton and Company, 1992. – P. 135. Some arguments of the known American liberal in their implication to Ukrainian reality have been analyzed in my paper five years ago. See:  Колодій А.  Громадянське суспільство як основа міжетнічної толерантності // Українські варіанти. – 1998. – № 3. – С. 49-52

[13] Huntington, Samuel P. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. – New York, 1996. – P. 306.

[14] Grillo, Ralph. Pluralism and the Politics of Difference. State, Culture, and Ethnicity in Comparative Perspective. – Oxford: Clarendon Press. – 1998. – P.195.

[15] See: Schlesinger A. M., Jr. Op. cit. – P. 134.

[17] Kymlicka, Will. The Multicultural Citizenship… P. 152-153.

[19] Birch, Anthony H. Nationalism and National Integration. – London: Unwin Hyman Ltd., 1989. ­– P. 55.

[20] Kymlicka, Will. A Liberal Approach to Minority Rights. P. 12 / An authors’ manuscript, prepared especially for Ukrainian translation, published as: Кимлічка Вілл. Лібералізм і права меншин. Перекл. з англ. – Харків: Центр освітніх ініціатив, 2001. – 176 с.

[21] Methodological faults of the census questionnaire I have analyzed in the article: Про поліетнічність України: кількісний та якісний виміри // Україна – проблема ідентичності: Людина, економіка, суспільство. Конференція українських випускників програм наукового стажування у США – Львів, 18-21 вересня 2003 р. – Київ: Стилос, 2003.– С. 239-264. 

[22] The survey has been made on the basis of multi-stage stratified sampling with the use of quota selection of respondents on the last stage. General sample – 2800 respondents; it has been enlarged to 3250 respondents for regional dimension of survey. Standard deviation of the sample = +- 3%.