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  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: January 2021

1 - An Introduction


“The defence of cultural diversity is an ethical imperative, inseparable from respect for human dignity.”

UNESCO, Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, Article 4

The Background

Interest in diversity that extends beyond the biological realm has seen a significant increase in multiple spheres, from the academic to the political. While concerns about diversity have their roots in ethics, the discussion has evolved rapidly to address social and economic considerations that stress not only societal duties regarding the treatment (and protection) of diversity, but also the benefits that diversity, in its multiple manifestations, brings to society. Unlike the ethical debate, in which issues are relatively clear, the diversity discourse in socio-economic research has become a source of both hope and concern, having been attributed with the capacity both to enrich life and society as well as to endanger “peaceful” coexistence. This contrast is evident in the growing debate about diversity, its meaning and its role, as efforts to date can largely be said to have been incapable of arriving at a consensus view of the term (see Van Londen & Ruijter 2010). These differences and disagreement exemplify the complexity of the term and the issues that it encompasses as well as a certain immaturity within the debate itself. The tacit agreement to disagree is emblematic of diversity itself as studied and understood by researchers, scholars, policymakers and others.

This volume on diversity recognises both the significance of these differing views and the need for a greater cross- and multidisciplinary understanding of the importance and meaning attributed to diversity. It examines how to address the challenges that arise within a constantly evolving world in which diversity represents a multifaceted, dynamic and continuously changing variable. The aim is to bring together different discipline-based perspectives in order to provide scholars, policymakers and society as a whole with an under-standing of the approaches and views within other disciplines. Diversity exists everywhere and hence represents a subject of primary interest both within individual disciplines and to multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research. This volume seeks to contribute to the efforts by researchers and scholars in Europe and beyond to engage in collaborative and multidisciplinary research that enables them to address complex issues in a more comprehensive manner, utilising perspectives and means of analysis that are either borrowed from another discipline or created through exposure to work done in other fields.