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Queen's University
 

Multiculturalism Policies in Contemporary Democracies


Denmark

MM900178243.GIF
TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0.5 0


1. Constitutional, legislative or parliamentary affirmation of multiculturalism at the central and/or regional and municipal levels and the existence of a government ministry, secretariat or advisory board to implement this policy in consultation with ethnic communities

   No.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • The constitution contains nothing that relates directly to culture or cultural rights (Duelund and Valtysson 2010).
  • Although the government introduced an Integration Act in 1999 (which was amended in 2003 and again in 2005), the act is primarily focused on ensuring newcomers adopt Danish values and culture and become employed and self-sufficient as soon as possible. There is no mention of multiculturalism. Indeed, the act would appear to be explicitly aimed at immigrants with minority backgrounds given that it does not apply to newcomers originating from Nordic countries or within the European Community.
  • Similarly, while there is a Ministry of Refugee, Immigration and Integration Affairs, its mandate relates primarily to labour market integration, the teaching of Danish, overcoming “ghettoization,” and improving ethnic minority youths’ educational outcomes.
  • Bird (2005, 41) argues that there is a “fundamental hostility toward the idea of a multicultural society,” which she suggests stems from Denmark’s ardent nationalism, as well as its commitment to liberal values which are sometimes viewed as incompatible with “immigrant values.” Bird also notes that Danes believe it is difficult to achieve equality without cultural sameness and undifferentiated political rights (the Danish word lighed means simultaneously “cultural similarity” and “political sameness”). She argues that “similarity is believed to be a necessary condition for equality and one cannot, within this conceptual framework, be culturally different and politically equal” (Bird 2005, 40).


2. The adoption of multiculturalism in school curriculum

   No.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • In a review of education legislation policy documents produced by the Danish government between 2002 and 2007, Horst and Gitz-Johansen (2010, 144) note the emphasis on “Danishness” and the correction of “cultural and linguistic deficits” that immigrants from non-Western countries are believed to possess. They also argue that a central aim of the measures is to “eliminate the presence or representation of ethnic minority cultures and languages in education.”
  • The Danish Ministry of Education sets national curriculum standards and designates the compulsory subjects. These include Christian studies, which must be taken throughout primary and secondary school (Danish Ministry of Education 2008). Specific references to multiculturalism could not be found, and there is no mention of broader religious studies programs or foreign-language instruction.
  • Further, Szalai et al. (2009, 25) note that Danish “schools introduce special courses to target cultural competence and normalisation (civilisation), that is to make all students think and feel democratically in a ‘Western’ or ‘civilised’ manner.” This would seem to run somewhat counter to the spirit of multiculturalism. Recently, however, Denmark has experimented with “multicultural schools” although these are intended primarily for minority children, rather than providing for the integration of multicultural principles into mainstream instruction (Szalai et al. 2009).
  • A 2006 report on Denmark by the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination (CERD) noted that the curriculum did not include a sufficient focus on ethnic minority cultures and recommended that steps be taken so that the country’s cultural diversity would be better reflected in schools and the country’s education policy (Horst and Gitz-Johansen 2010). A review of arts education in Danish primary and secondary schools further recommended that the curriculum better acknowledge the country’s multicultural realities (Bamford and Qvortrup 2006).


3. The inclusion of ethnic representation/sensitivity in the mandate of public media or media licensing

   No.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Although some minority-language newscasts and radio programs were produced prior to the immigration reforms of 2001, these have now decreased or been discontinued. In addition, a reduction in the state subsidy for local radio broadcasts hit ethnic radio stations particularly hard. In assessing the current situation in Denmark, Hussain (2002, 11) notes “the public service broadcasting companies, [and] especially the TV stations, have marginalised diasporic minorities in the media to a level of complete exclusion.”
  • Nonetheless, in 2006 the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR) committed to providing news coverage in the country’s most spoken foreign languages, a provision that will be implemented in the next media agreement, which is slated to extend from 2011-2014 (Duelund and Valtysson 2010). While this is a reversal from the earlier decision to discontinue foreign language news broadcasts, it is not an explicit commitment to minority representation in the media. Indeed, there is no mention in the legislation of any obligation to represent or reflect Denmark’s cultural diversity in the media, although there are provisions related to the production of a “multiplicity” of programs (Duelund and Valtysson 2010).


4. Exemptions from dress codes (either by statute or court cases)

   No.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • A 2000 case ruled that it was discriminatory for a Danish department store to fire a woman specifically for wearing the hijab (Hansen 2006). In 2005, however, the courts ruled in favour of a supermarket chain, which imposed requirements that banned employees from wearing any headgear that was not a part of the official uniform. The court found that because the complainant had signed a document agreeing to abide by company policies, she was bound by the requirement. Further, it noted that employers are free to determine policies related to employee clothing so long as they are applied equally to all staff (Lukowski 2010).
  • Similarly, the uniform policy of the Danish Home Guard, a voluntary military corps, does not allow headscarves (Olsen 2009).
  • In 2005, a Sikh man was convicted and fined in a Copenhagen court after carrying his kirpan in public. Although the court acknowledged that the dagger was a religious symbol, it nonetheless deemed it to be a weapon (Singh 2005).
  • In 2008, the government moved to ban religious symbols from Danish courtrooms, and legislation was enacted in 2009. While the ban covers crucifixes, turbans, Jewish skull caps, and the hijab, it was largely deemed to be aimed at Muslim women judges (BBC 2008). This followed a 2008 debate over the wearing of headscarves in Parliament; here it was determined that the headscarf was permissible, so long as members could be recognized.


5. Allows dual citizenship

   No.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • Multiple citizenships are not permitted (Howard 2005). Citizenship is based on the principle of jus sanguinis (ethnic descent), and the criteria for naturalization have been tightened in recent years (Hedetoft 2006).


6. The funding of ethnic group organizations or activities

   No.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • No significant evidence of funding to ethnic organizations could be found. Bird (2005) notes that in 2002, the Danish government stopped providing financial assistance to a number of ethnic minority and anti-racism organizations.
  • The 1999 Integration Act did establish a Council for Ethnic Minorities, which is tasked with providing advice to the Minister for Refugee, Immigration and Integration Affairs on issues related to immigrants and refugees. The council meets with the minister every three months. It comprises 14 members who are elected for four-year terms from among the more than 50 local integration councils that have been set up in Danish municipalities. Members typically represent local ethnic associations (Council for Ethnic Minorities 2010). Although the council has undertaken some activities related to ethnic minorities (e.g., Promoting Diversity Within Voluntary Social Organisations), state support relates largely to the provision of advice on government policy, not the promotion or preservation of ethnic minority issues (Council for Ethnic Minorities 2010).


7. The funding of bilingual education or mother-tongue instruction

   No. Very restricted and primarily used as a pedagogical tool to facilitate learning Danish.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0.5 0

Evidence:

  • Denmark remains centrally preoccupied with the learning of Danish. As such, mother-tongue instruction has typically been rare (Szalai et al. 2009).
  • In their review of education policies in Denmark, Horst and Gitz-Johansen (2010, 144) note that there is an emphasis on eliminating minority languages from the school system, and there have been significant reductions in mother-tongue language instruction since state funding was eliminated in 2001. As a result, mother-tongue education is provided to just 5,000 children who come primarily from European backgrounds; this is just a fraction of the 70,000 children in Denmark who are officially bilingual.
  • In 2007, bilingual education was institutionalized as a right in Denmark, although it is only provided to some students (notably those from European countries), and the emphasis has been more on the learning of Danish than on the mother tongue (Szalai et al. 2009). That is, even in cases where bilingual education is provided, mother-tongue instruction is viewed primarily as a pedagogical tool that can help students learn Danish as quickly as possible; it has little to do with cultural maintenance or preservation.
  • As is noted in the government’s overview of the country’s curriculum for primary and secondary schools, “teaching in Danish as a second language is provided when necessary to bilingual children. …The Minister of Education is responsible for establishing the regulations concerning education in Danish as a second language to bilingual children and concerning mother-tongue instruction of children from Member States of the European Economic Area, as well as the Faeroe Islands and Greenland” (Danish Ministry of Education 2008).
  • Denmark’s approach to mother-tongue instruction has been criticized by the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) because it differentiates between European-origin children and all others, a position that the UN regards as discriminatory (Horst and Gitz-Johansen, 2010).


8. Affirmative action for disadvantaged immigrant groups

   No.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • In 2003, an Act on Ethnic Equal Treatment was passed. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity. Nonetheless, in spite of Denmark’s emphasis on ensuring immigrants enter the labour market as quickly as possible, there is no evidence of any additional positive action measures.
  • Even in the gender literature, it is noted that where there is legislation obliging public authorities to work toward gender equality, there has been a “backlash” against affirmative action programs for women and men working in non-traditional occupations and, moreover, that Danes are somewhat uncomfortable with the notion of preferential hiring (FCZB 2001). This may stem from Denmark’s traditional emphasis on the notion of “equality.”

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