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The importance of a consociation approach to preserve cultural and linguistic diversity

A cornerstone of collective identity is the recognition of cultural and linguistic diversity in countries such as Canada and Switzerland. An EU-funded initiative built on previous comparative research on multiculturalism and national identity.
The importance of a consociation approach to preserve cultural and linguistic diversity
The term consociation is used to describe political systems characterised by the coexistence of different cultural and linguistic communities within a given territory. The project UNITED BY DIVER-FRI (United by diversity - Management policies of cultural and linguistic diversity in Switzerland and Canada: Two reference laboratories for European Union?) proposed that the goal of a consociation is to ensure the preservation of groups and their autonomy and particularities.

Project research relied on an analysis of constitutional provisions in legislation and jurisprudence, published sociological and historical analyses on the subject, and targeted interviews. UNITED BY DIVER-FRI demonstrated that a consociation is above all characterised by how groups cohabitate within their political spaces. Therefore, the objective pursued by a consociation's policies is essential to its defining character, not to its adopted policies and other such tools.

Canada can be considered a consociation because it works to preserve three national groups – i.e. Anglophone, Francophone and Indigenous populations. At the same time, although there are similarities in the EU between the workings of the state union and consociational mechanisms, it cannot be regarded as a consociation insofar as it is not managed by a single government equipped with an objective.

The research underlines that in consociations the state unit is essential for assuring the role of mediator, representative and regulator between or among groups. The analysis and conclusions drawn from the comparative study of Canada and Switzerland highlight a series of measures likely to promote the harmonious coexistence of groups within the EU.

UNITED BY DIVER-FRI produced articles and a thesis submitted for publication to international journals and publishing houses. In 2015, it also launched and promoted the related book 'Identité nationale et multiculturalisme: Deux notions antagonistes?', part of the Classiques Garnier collection Littérature, histoire, politique.

The work has implications for political regimes and areas hosting several cultural, linguistic and religious groups, emphasising that recognition, protection and the promotion of diversity foster social cohesion and the emergence of a collective identity. Its comparative analysis and outcomes promote and contribute to a broader discussion regarding the EU's status today.

Related information

Keywords

Consociation, cultural and linguistic diversity, collective identity, UNITED BY DIVER-FRI
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