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Theory, National Policy and the Management of Minority Cultures

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Our examination of the ideas shaping theory, policy and administrative approaches to majority-minority relations will emphasize the role of implicit, unrecognized Anglo-American liberal ideologies in delimiting the parameters of discussion. The theories that provide a basis for national policy are grounded in laissex, feire ideology about the inevitable assimilation of minority cultural groups through individualism and the "natural" functioning of market forces. Policies addressing the economic, educational and political aspirations of minority cultures assume that the due process of the established social order naturally results in harmonious relations among all groups and distributes rewards to any deserving individual who exerts efforts to better himself. This ideology essentially asserts that society operates most effectively when individuals or groups are given the moral privilege of gradual adjustment and mobility. We will pursue this theme of the ideological roots of theory and policy in the next two sections of the paper by considering some general theoretical issues and by critiquing theories relevant to national policies. In the third and fourth sections we will analyze the assimilation model and aspects of national policy derived from this model, with attention to the management of. minority relations using illustrative data from Malaysia.

Affiliations: 1: Sunway College, Malaysia; 2: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Malaya


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