Be Prestige-Resilient! A Contextual Ethics of Cultural Identity

Van Den Berg, Paul
April 2004
Ethical Theory & Moral Practice;Apr2004, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p197
Academic Journal
This article proposes a new social- and moral-psychological understanding of cultural identity, tailored to the mixed multicultural contexts of every major city today. Seeking to protect vulnerable cultural groups, theories of multiculturalism have insufficiently assessed the psychological significance of intercultural social comparison, in identity-formation. While plays of prestige are a fact of life for immigrant and gay minorities, not everyone is equally able to cope with ascribed negative prestige. This is shown in an analysis of reactive attitudes towards negative prestige under contrasting conditions (of rough cultural equality, and in underclass-culture). The idea of prestige-resilience is proposed both as an explanatory concept in the debate on underclass-culture and as a normative concept from which basic moral and ethical thresholds for cultural identity-formation might be deduced. Outcomes are considered relevant for psychological analysis of underclass-formation and for multicultural policy-making, specifically in immigrant states.


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