Ethnicity and Democratic Governance

Ethnicity and Democratic Governance

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Spoke 4

How should we normatively assess the issues at stake and the justice of state and international strategies for the democratic governance of ethnically diverse societies?

Coordinators: Avigail Eisenberg and Margaret Moore
Participants: Rainer Bauböck, Rajeev Bargava, Joe Carens, John Boye Ejobowah, Geneviève Nootens and Michel Seymour

Our concern here is with the normative evaluation of institutional strategies and policies for responding to ethnic conflicts. As noted earlier, much of the social science literature operates implicitly with the assumption that the key goal of public policy is social order and political stability. Yet almost all of the macro and micro strategies listed in Spokes 2 and 3 raise difficult normative questions concerning their consistency with some basic political values, including democracy, social justice, and the rule of law. For example, one view suggests that group-specific rights are required by norms of justice and equality. Others, however, see such differentiated rights as a threat to individual freedom, norms of equal citizenship and national solidarity. Which forms of multicultural accommodations promote basic political values, and which threaten them?

Our Approach

Research within this spoke involved normative evaluation of recent and emerging strategies for dealing with accommodation and conflict in multi-ethnic societies including self-government arrangements for national minorities, federalism, differentiated rights, and immigration regimes. It involved working closely with Spokes 1 and 2 in assessing the way in which ethnic mobilization and the institutional responses to it shape group identities, create or destroy the necessary foundations of democratic relations within and between groups, and are practically successful in securing individual well-being and protecting minority rights in particular contexts.