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Pluralism, British

Trevor Hogan


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The civil societies of most modern nation-states in the world today are “pluralist” if by this we mean the linguistic, ethnic, and subjective dimensions of culture. Cultural definitions of pluralism, however, address neither social factors of hierarchy, status, and power nor the politics of managing cultural difference and diversity in representative democracies. Communal democracies (like Malaysia) are different to the pluralist liberal democracies of the new world such as Canada and Australia. Arguments about political pluralism as normative goal and practice have largely emanated from liberal democratic societies. British and American pluralism are the two leading examples across the last century. British pluralism is a critique of the authority and structure of the modern state. American pluralism, in contrast, is a theory of political competition in which organized interest groups seek, but cannot attain, a monopoly of state power. American pluralism as theory and practice is more widely known and debated across the globe, especially during the post-World War II and Cold War period (see especially Robert A. Dahl). British political pluralism, however, in its proposals for the dispersal of the modern state, arguably offers more succor to those committed to the extension of liberal democracy. British pluralism first emerged as a radical current of thought amongst socialists, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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