The world is made up of different cultures that have different beliefs and practices. Cultural relativism is the notion that there is no ideal standard of what is right or wrong, rather, it is a peoples’ society and cultural background that dictates their perception of morality and ethics. This therefore means that there is no moral or ethical position or approach that is better or worse than the other is. Hence, actions are culturally relative. What is deemed as acceptable and correct by one community may be viewed as an offence to the ethical and moral practices of another. For example, in most Western countries, women are free to dress as they want. However, most Arab countries forbid women to wear clothes that reveal their arms, legs and even the face in extreme cases.
Multiculturalism is the integration of different cultures within a society. In a multicultural society, multiple ethnic cultures are accepted and assimilated into a people’s way of life. In today’s globalized world, mobility of labor and technological advancement has led to the interaction and integration of different cultures. Multiculturalism may be received in two ways; through cultural tolerance or cultural strife. Cultural tolerance is whereby there is freedom of choice, action and speech among people of different cultures, religions, creed and color. In this situation, there is mutual respect of each other’s cultures and beliefs. On the other hand, multiculturalism may result in strife among the different cultures (Moghaddam, 2008). This happens due to the belief that one culture is superior or correct, while the other is inferior or wrong.
The implications of multiculturalism in a society may be positive or negative. The pros are; first, different cultures strengths and abilities may be applied to another culture to enhance it. Secondly, it provides people with the opportunity to learn different languages and sample different types of food and thirdly it leads to a more liberal society because freedom of expression and action are fundamental principles in a multicultural state. On the negative side, multiculturalism inevitably results in people having to compromise a part of their culture in order to blend in. Secondly, multiculturalism can lead to ethnic division among people from different cultures. Thirdly, it also leads to a society that has no moral principles to guide them, hence moral and ethical bankruptcy.
Moghaddam, F., M., (2008). Multiculturalism and intergroup relations: psychological implications for democracy in global context, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.