Curated by: Isolde Charim
One of the most profound changes in our societies is their pluralization. This is a relatively recent evolution. And it is an irreversible fact: there is no way back to a non-pluralistic, homogeneous society. This is a straightforward statement. But it is not so easy to analyse the question of what this actually means. How do we define a pluralistic society? What exactly is becoming more plural? And what consequences can we expect? In other words: What does it mean to live in a pluralistic society?
According to common understanding, the answer lies in a co-existence of diverse cultures and civilizations. This would imply, however, that pluralization results in an accumulation of cultural, religious and ethnic differences, in addition to something arising that will create something new. Accordingly, Yugoslavs, Turks or of late Muslims and refugees have augmented the Austrian population.
Therefore, we speak about migration, integration, or, in the worst case, the existence of parallel societies and thus lose sight of the fundamental changes which are affecting us all. Pluralism is not merely an external relationship. It does not mean a form of co-existence that would not impact the individual segments of society. Pluralism much rather denotes a process in which the totality, the differences between all those involved, the indigenous population and immigrants alike, are affected.
However, this notion of pluralisation is based on a fundamental misunderstanding: the misunderstanding that diversity leaves a society unchanged. This is the idea: through integration, through a degree of adaptation, society can remain as it was before. But pluralisation is not an external process. It is not just a juxtaposition that leaves the parts untouched. Rather, pluralization means that process in which diversification, in which diversity brings about a fundamental change.
It is a change of all involved - locals and migrants. But it is also a change in political forms, a change in social agreements, consensus and lines of conflict.
The Bruno Kreisky Forum would like to address this issue in a new series. Its thematic scope should range from the question of the relationship between pluralization and rampant populism to the question of possible new models of democracy for societies that "no longer share a worldview" (Charles Taylor).