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Multiculturalism without Culture [Kindle Edition]

Anne Phillips
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Public opinion in recent years has soured on multiculturalism, due in large part to fears of radical Islam. In Multiculturalism without Culture, Anne Phillips contends that critics misrepresent culture as the explanation of everything individuals from minority and non-Western groups do. She puts forward a defense of multiculturalism that dispenses with notions of culture, instead placing individuals themselves at its core.

Multiculturalism has been blamed for encouraging the oppression of women--forced marriages, female genital cutting, school girls wearing the hijab. Many critics opportunistically deploy gender equality to justify the retreat from multiculturalism, hijacking the equality agenda to perpetuate cultural stereotypes. Phillips informs her argument with the feminist insistence on recognizing women as agents, and defends her position using an unusually broad range of literature, including political theory, philosophy, feminist theory, law, and anthropology. She argues that critics and proponents alike exaggerate the unity, distinctness, and intractability of cultures, thereby encouraging a perception of men and women as dupes constrained by cultural dictates.

Opponents of multiculturalism may think the argument against accommodating cultural difference is over and won, but they are wrong. Phillips believes multiculturalism still has an important role to play in achieving greater social equality. In this book, she offers a new way of addressing dilemmas of justice and equality in multiethnic, multicultural societies, intervening at this critical moment when so many Western countries are poised to abandon multiculturalism.



Editorial Reviews

Review

In this illuminating and intelligently written book, Anne Phillips stresses the need to revise holistic and determinist notions of 'culture' that have played a role in perpetuating racial and gender stereotypes within multiethnic and multicultural societies....Drawing from an impressive breadth of literature, ranging from feminism, law, anthropology to philosophy and political theory, Phillips provides numerous case studies to highlight how women in particular, are disadvantaged by multicultural policies and cultural labeling....This is a superb and deeply relevant contribution to current debates and various fields of study.

From the Inside Flap

"Much of the debate about the politics of diversity both within and between nations starts with an exaggerated view of the extent of cultural difference. In this sane and intelligent book, Anne Phillips offers a more realistic--and a more helpful--picture of the scale and significance of our disagreements."--Kwame Anthony Appiah, Princeton University

"Anne Phillips shows how to forge a much-needed politics that combines the goal of gender equality with that of multicultural equality. She does this by avoiding a conception of culture that is static and monolithic. Phillips assumes crucially that minority cultural values are contextually variable and that minority group members are free moral agents, not cultural puppets. Her approach will elevate the dialogue over gender and culture to a creative new plateau of insight and understanding."--Marilyn Friedman, Washington University

"Meticulously researched, pristinely crafted, intelligently and generously argued, Multiculturalism without Culture is the finest presentation yet of liberal democratic bafflement over culture and culturalism. One need not concur with Phillips's conclusions to reap illumination from this marvelous volume and to be buoyed by its renewal of a relentlessly antiracist and feminist democratic politics."--Wendy Brown, author of Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire

"Multiculturalism without Culture is an important intervention into the debate on cultural difference and social policy. Anne Phillips does a great job of bringing together legal materials, philosophy, political theory, and legal theory to offer a new and nuanced normative theory for social justice in multicultural societies. Phillips believes culture is something more important than a lifestyle choice, but something less preordained than DNA. She zeroes in on a new problem and offers new solutions."--Richard T. Ford, author of Racial Culture


Product Details

  • File Size: 1502 KB
  • Print Length: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (February 17, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002WJM59G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,143,191 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A subtle argument December 15, 2007
By Michael
Format:Hardcover
Anne Phillips is a feminist theorist with some quite strong views (I previously read her book "Which Equalities Matter?"). In "Multiculturalism Without Culture", she wrestles with a basic contradiction. On the one hand, "culture" matters. This is the central insight of multiculturalism: people's views of themselves and their societies are filtered through culturally specific lenses, and to ignore this when making policy as to ignore people as they are. On the other hand, "culture" doesn't even exist. No culture is internally homogeneous, and no person resides in only one culture. For example, a person can participate in British culture, university culture, gay culture, Muslim culture, Pakistani culture, and sports culture in a single day. To situate such a person in a single culture obscures more than it identifies. Her ideas on how to reconcile these two insights are very sophisticated, but mercifully jargon-free. She also draws primarily on legal examples so there are lots of vivid, real-life stories (and lots of nasty murders, too!) as she tries to build a "multiculturalism without culture."

It would be ridiculous to call this a general interest book, but it should get a wider audience than history and social science grad students. Anyone interested by life in diverse societies would be well-served by the book.
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