Civil Societies Between Difference and Solidarity

Rethinking Integration in the Fragmented Public Sphere

in Theoria
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In l974, after twenty years of relatively successful struggles for the expansion of American citizenship, efforts that began with Black Americans and expanded to include other racial minorities and women, a scholar named Peter Adler (l974:369-371) concluded a widely used anthology called Intercultural Communication by offering a definition of ‘multicultural’. Emphasising the ‘psychoculturally adaptive’, Adler portrayed a protean, ever-changing, integrative actor who had the desire and ability to put himself in the shoes of the other person in a relativising, cross-over, non-judgmental way. ‘Multicultural man’, he wrote, ‘maintains no clear boundaries between himself and the varieties of personal and cultural contexts he may find himself in’. He is ‘capable of major shifts in his frame of reference and embodies the ability to disavow a permanent character … He is a person who is always in the process of becoming a part of and apart from a given cultural context. He is very much a formative being, resilient, changing, and evolutionary’ (italics added).

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