Issues of diversity

Sir Reg Empey is Dublin-bound to meet with his Irish counterparts, Mary Hanafin and Michael Martin. A key issue for discussion will be migrant workers. Sir Reg expressed concerns about the community relations impact of an economic downturn and whether business was too reliant on importing rather than developing skills. He asked:

The question is whether it would create a pool of people in our own community who may be left behind?

Recently, social capital guru Robert Putnam, after a six year delay*, released his research on the impact of diversity on communities across the USA (full report here pdf file) and it showed people in ethnically diverse communities would:

“distrust their neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television.”

Despite the discovery of an inconvenient truth Putnam remains optimistic about the future . The optimism is based on:

“his reading of US history and how an ethnonationalism of white Anglo Saxon Protestant America was transformed into a civic nationalism as a response to mass immigration of late 19th century.”

Although arch-Conservative Pat Buchanan points out this large-scale migration was followed by a forty year morartorium.

“that Great Wave was followed by the Great Lull”

However Putnam warns both left and right that:

“It would be unfortunate if a politically correct progressivism were to deny the reality of the challenge to social solidarity posed by diversity, it would be equally unfortunate if an ahistorical and ethnocentric conservatism were to deny that addressing that challenge is both feasible and desirable.”

*The raw data was available in 2000 but Putnam held back final publication of the research report until he had examined and exhausted all the possible factors that could effect the data.

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