Multiculturalism Policies in Contemporary Democracies

Multiculturalism Policies

in Contemporary Democracies

Multiculturalism Policies

in Contemporary Democracies

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The MCP Index Project

The Multiculturalism Policy Index is a scholarly research project that monitors and the evolution of multiculturalism policies across the Western democracies. The project is designed to provide information about multiculturalism policies in a standardized format that aids comparative research and contributes to the understanding of state-minority relations. There are three separate indices covering three types of minorities: one index relating to immigrant groups, one relating to historic national minorities, and one relating to indigenous peoples. Documentation on the adoption (or repeal) of multiculturalism policies relating to these three types of groups across 21 Western countries is freely available through this site for researchers, public officials, journalists, students, activists, and others interested in the topic.


Beginning in the 1960s, a number of Western democracies took a "multicultural turn" in their approach to ethnocultural diversity. In the past, ethnocultural diversity was often seen as a threat to political stability, and hence as something to be discouraged by public policies. Immigrants, national minorities and indigenous peoples were all subject to a range of policies intended to either assimilate or marginalize them. Today, however, many Western democracies have abandoned these earlier policies, and shifted towards a more accommodating approach to diversity, including the widespread adoption of accommodation policies for immigrant groups, the acceptance of territorial autonomy and language rights for national minorities, and the recognition of land claims and self-government rights for indigenous peoples.

[Read more on the Rationale.]

Definitions and Data

Our MCP Index measures the presence or absence of a range of multiculturalism policies (MCPs) at three points in time - 1980, 2000 and 2010 -- across 21 Western democracies. There is no universally-accepted definition of a "multiculturalism policy", and no hard and fast line that would sharply distinguish MCPs from closely related policy fields, such as anti-discrimination policies, citizenship policies and integration policies. Any list of MCPs is likely, therefore, to be controversial, and perhaps arbitrary at the edges.

[Read more on the Definitions and Data.]


Research on the effects of MCPs is still in its early stages, and it is premature to make definitive judgements about the "success" or "failure" of multiculturalism, or about the "advance" or "retreat" of multiculturalism. We hope that the Index will enable and encourage new cross-national research that would allow us to make more fine-grained judgements about the evolution and effects of multiculturalism policies.

[Read more on the Findings here.]

Citation Requirement:

The Multiculturalism Policy Index is available for public use,
but we ask that it always be cited properly. The Index should be cited as:

"Multiculturalism Policy Index,,
(Include date when data were accessed or downloaded.)"