The distinctive feature of the 21st century is a mutual desire of progressive countries for close cooperation and integration in different spheres. Therefore, the cultural, economic, and other aspects, which used to separate countries, have become less visible. Globalization and equity of all people, irrespective of their culture, religion, the color of skin or race, have become the mainstream tendencies for the world community. Multiculturalism has gained popularity among leading actors of international relations. The most widespread approach to multiculturalism means it as a complex of cultural, mental and economic connections between representatives of different cultures within the frames of one country (“Multiculturalism,” 2011). Subsequently, multiculturalism was supposed to provide society with a greater level of tolerance and respect for different cultural groups. The UK and Germany were among those countries which were the most enthusiastic in providing this concept for their societies. However, the realities of multicultural society appeared to be different from the initial expectations, which led to changing the attitude to the perspectives of multiculturalism by British and German political leaders. Therefore, there arises a question whether the UK and Germany have succeeded or failed in the building of multicultural societies due to the latest events. There may be numerous discussions about it, but only actions are clear evidence of the situation. Subsequently, practical experience of the countries, which includes public statements of the politicians and measures taken under the refugee crisis in 2015, is the best way to show how the theory of multiculturalism is realized factually both in the UK and Germany.
Great Britain recognized the failure of multiculturalism as a way to unite society. It follows from the statements of British Prime Minister David Cameron, whose speech in 2011 marked the core changes in policy on immigrants in Great Britain. Cameron noticed that the concept of multiculturalism is not a tool for strengthening the society, but rather is an approach which has “encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream” (“Multiculturalism,” 2011). Such a political tone could not but influenced social opinion in the UK. According to the latest surveys, more than a half of respondents in Great Britain are inclined to think that multiculturalism makes the situation in the country worse. Thus, 56 percent of respondents believe in it in comparison to 32 percent in 2001 (Dore, 2015). 7/7 bombing in London and further development of events made many people in the UK overthink the possibility of Muslims to integrate into their society. Moreover, if people at the beginning of the 21st century were full of belief in multicultural British society, the current figures show significant distrust of population in this idea. The main reason for this is doubts about the decent loyalty of Muslims to the government and British people. 45 percent of UKIP supporters express their concerns about the risk of betrayal from the side of Muslims (Dore, 2015). Moreover, there are many people who think that terroristic attacks are likely to happen because of high amount of Muslims in British society.
Syrian refugee crisis in 2015 is a determinant of British readiness to help in a critical situation. The UK supplies refugees with financial aid and necessary provisions. According to the statements of the authorities, it is planned to host about 20 000 refugees by 2020 (“Multiculturalism,” 2011). However, the UK is rather moderate in acceptance of refugees in comparison to other European countries.
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By contrast, German approach to multiculturalism is different from the British one. Germany has already accepted about 1,000,000 Syrian refugees and tries to provide them with all necessary conditions for proper living. However, the burden of refugees appeared to be difficult to hold without essential support of other EU-members. The matter is that number of living places and budget for financial aid for refugees are limited; that is why, Germany is going to shorten the number of places for Syrians and deport some of them. In the light of these events, it is necessary to refer to the recent public statement of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
German authorities express their concerns about the number of refugees but are still interested in attracting potential labor force. During the last meeting of the Christian Democrat party, where she mentioned that those who want to have refuge in Germany should show necessary level of respect to its culture, language, and traditions (Modood, 2015). Such a statement led to intensive discussions in the society. The main question was whether this announcement meant official recognition of failed multiculturalism and its ending. However, Merkel’s statement is rather a signal for restriction of national borders than the change in Germany’s multicultural politics. In contrast to Great Britain, the German social-economic situation has its specific difficulties. One of the key problems is the lack of labor force in German labor market and general tendency to declining of population. Subsequently, Germany has its personal interest in raising the potential labor force (Modood, 2015).
The restrictive measures is a way to protect German society from parasitism, but not a countermeasure against Syrians. German government is not ready to pay for the living of those refugees who give nothing in return. That is why, one of the ways to solve this situation is to restrict rules of refugees’ acceptance and stimulate them to learn German. A language is an important tool in daily social communication. Lack of language knowledge leads to separation from the whole German society and interferes in the process of multicultural harmonic integration. Generally, it is necessary to outline that Germany provides help to refugees with greater readiness than the UK. On the other hand, it is necessary to take into account the demographic situation and political interests of each country, which determines the key directions of their political decisions.
Policy on Syrian refugees is a logical sequence of general policy in the UK and Germany. The reaction of two countries on the critical need of Syrians for asylum is predictable from political behavior and interests of each country in the development of multiculturalism. Therefore, reluctance of Great Britain to accept refugees follows from governmental disbelief in its necessity, meanwhile German activeness in this issue derives from its need for people.
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In conclusion, under the conditions of close economic relations and intensive movement of the population through the borders of different countries, multiculturalism has become an inevitable reality for many European countries. The British and German authorities are among those who were the first to accept the concept of multiculturalism. However, this concept includes many complicated social and cultural aspects, which make it difficult to realize it in practice. Therefore, these two countries, which firstly accepted the multiculturalism as a way to strengthen cultural relations and level of tolerance among social members, acted differently as to issues of the adopted approach. Current political, social, and other events have a significant impact on further development of the society. That is why, multicultural concept in the UK and Germany develops in accordance with these circumstances of the modern reality.