Pluralism refers to a society, system of government, or organization that has different groups that keep their identities while existing with other groups or a more dominant group. Rather than just one group, subgroup, or culture dictating how things go, pluralism recognizes a larger number of competing interest groups that share the power. Pluralism serves as a model of democracy, where different groups can voice their opinions and ideas.

Pluralism in Real Life

  • Many cities in the United States have areas referred to as Little Italy or Chinatown, where people from those countries keep their cultural traditions.
  • JoAnne’s parents are from Lebanon, and though JoAnne has grown up in the United States, she embraces her Lebanese roots. She has lived in Lebanon and often cooks traditional Lebanese meals.
  • Amish people live alongside those who are not Amish, but travel by horse and buggy, do not have electricity, and have established stores, schools, and other organizations that are used by members of the Amish community.
  • Native American tribes have separate governments, religions, schools, and communities in which they practice and live out their traditions and histories.
  • Born and raised in Mexico, Flor came to the United States as a teenager. She was eager to learn English and to adapt to the culture around her, but she also continued to celebrate the traditions she grew up with and passed them on to her children.
  • The United States has been referred to as a melting pot, where people of different cultural backgrounds have come to live but are able to keep alive their own cultural traditions.
  • Labor unions and employers share in meeting the needs of employees.
  • When environmental groups decide that there is a need for a new law regulating some form of pollution, they seek compromises from chemical companies. People from the public voice their opinions, as does the Environmental Protection Agency and members of Congress. Any law that follows is a result of various groups speaking up and is an exercise in pluralism.
  • In India, Hindus and Hindi-speaking people are the majority, but people of other backgrounds, religions, and languages also live there.
  • Indonesia is a pluralistic society, where people of different backgrounds (religion, caste, culture, language, ethnicity) live side by side.
  • The city of Bethlehem in the Middle East exhibits pluralism when families of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths desire to live peacefully in the midst of the fighting around them.
  • Olga’s family came to the United States from Czechoslovakia, and though she and her siblings learned English at school, they maintained their native language at home.
  • Almost everyone in Phoenix seems to have moved there from somewhere else in the country, so the ideas and backgrounds of the people there have merged into a pluralistic society.
  • Because it is so close to the Mexican border, Tucson exhibits many influences of Mexican culture even though it is not in Mexico.
  • Couples of differing religious faiths may decide to celebrate the practices of both of their religions.
  • In ancient Rome, people worshipped many gods, and were left to their own religious practices if they were not considered threats to the Roman rulers.
  • Historically, when one country occupies another, a pluralistic society developed if the people native to the country were allowed to continue their traditions alongside the traditions and practices of the occupying country.
  • When Britain occupied India, both British Christian and Indian Hindu traditions were practiced side by side.
  • Teresa grew up in China but came to New York as a child. It is important to her that her son learns about his heritage, so he attends Chinese school every Saturday.
  • In the United States many religions and denominations within religions are practiced side by side, with each group allowed to voice their concerns and thoughts.

Each of these are different types of pluralism that exist, allowing multiple entities to share their beliefs and power.

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