Cultural Diversity

What is Cultural Diversity?

Cultural diversity is the variety of cultures that exist in humanity, which are distinguished from each other through a set of expressions that are their own.

The concept of cultural diversity also acts as a principle of openness and tolerance between ethnic groups, languages, religions, values, worldviews, etc. That is, a principle of openness to contact between cultures without any of them presupposing superiority over the other.

Cultural diversity is a consequence of historical, political, social and economic processes that have stimulated different adaptation responses by peoples. These processes become more complex when there are encounters between cultures, which always entails some kind of transformation.

UNESCO promoted the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity in 2001, which expands the possibility of creating national and international cultural policies in this area. Likewise, it established May 21 as the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

At present, cultural diversity is an easy reality to verify in most societies due to the effect of globalization. However, it is true that in some countries it is expressed in a more obvious way.

Are examples of cultural diversity the following:

  • Latin America: Spanish-speaking urban cultures (which are dominant and marked by Westernization) coexist alongside 522 indigenous peoples of different languages.
  • India: In this country there are 22 legally recognized native languages, which together with the non-official languages ​​add up to 415. Likewise, there is a great religious diversity: Hinduism (dominant religion), Islam and Christianity.
  • China: 235 different languages ​​are spoken in China, which represents the same number of different cultures coexisting in the national territory.
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See also 7 examples that cultural diversity is great.

Elements of cultural diversity

Cultural diversity is expressed in all the elements that allow each culture to be characterized in a specific way. Likewise, it is perceived from the moment in which the different cultures have knowledge of each other.

Thus, cultural diversity is expressed in elements such as:

  • language and dialects
  • The religion
  • the value system
  • The gastronomy
  • Literature (oral or written)
  • clothing and footwear
  • Music
  • the plastic arts
  • The dances and dances
  • the aesthetic sense
  • body expression
  • The sexuality
  • Utensils
  • The architecture
  • The sport
  • The games
  • Parties
  • political order
  • The economic order
  • social organization
  • The distribution of work

Importance of cultural diversity

Cultural diversity is recognized by UNESCO as a source of “exchange, innovation and creativity” that allows the development of society as a whole. Therefore, the difference acquires a positive assessment, and is opposed to the pretensions of constituting homogeneous companies.

Today, the importance of cultural diversity and its recognition has been demonstrated insofar as:

  • it constitutes a patrimonial value of humanity;
  • promotes cultural pluralism;
  • it is a source of creativity;
  • stimulates development;
  • it is protected by human rights;
  • it is a cultural right;
  • it allows different cultures to be accessible to all;
  • promotes the integration of the public sector, the private sector and civil society in matters of cultural policies.

Therefore, the importance of cultural diversity as a principle lies in the fact that it fosters respect for Otherness. This facilitates the exchange of knowledge and values, such as tolerance, understanding and coexistence between cultures.

Cultural diversity and interculturality

Cultural diversity and interculturality are closely related concepts, but they are not equivalent. Cultural diversity refers to the recognition of cultural difference, its legitimacy and dignity.

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Interculturality refers to the process by which clearly differentiated cultures that share a territory carry out cultural exchanges with each other. In other words, it refers to the way in which they relate, dialogue and influence each other, maintaining their differentiating features.

See also:

  • Cultural globalization.
  • Multiculturality.