Is the Culture of Recognition still Possible in the Multicultural World of Globalization ?
Anton Carpinschi, Ph D
Professor Emeritus, “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iași, Romania
Trying to answer a question that might seem naive to some of us — “how could the multicultural world of globalization become more inclusive and empathetic ?” — this essay proposes, at the confluence of applied philosophy, cognitive pragmatics and cultural studies, an intercultural project of a self-reflexive nature inspired by the idea according to that, the dynamics of multiple identities shapes the multicultural world of globalization, but the dialogue of connective identities can make the multicultural world of globalization more inclusive and empathetic. By cultivating dialogical-comprehensive thinking and training the intercultural competences, the dialogue of connective identities opens the horizons of the culture of recognition. Perceived as a deliberative-consensual behavioral model, the culture of recognition can become a path to a more inclusive and empathetic world: the intercultural world of globalization.
Keywords: the multicultural world of globalization vs. the intercultural world of globalization; multiple identity vs. connective identity; dialogical-comprehensive thinking; recognition culture; deliberative-consensual behavioral model
The multicultural world of globalization is crossed by multiple cleavages generating tensions and violences. This is the world that Michel Foucault described as “a great asylum, where rulers are psychologists and people are patients”, a world in which “political power is about to acquire a new function which is therapeutic” (Foucault, 1994, p. 434). Beyond this psychiatric diagnosis, the words of the French philosopher suggest a potential remedy: the therapeutic function of political power. But, a therapeutic function exercised only trough people who hold political power causes fears and doubts. On the other hand, as Peter Drucker pointed at the begenning of XXI century, we are in an unprecedented situation in terms of the evolution of the human condition. “For the first time — literally — substantial and rapidly growing numbers of people have choices. For the first time, they will have to manage themselves. And society is totally unprepared for it” (Drucker, 2000). When we think about these issues we should not forget, however, Peter Druckner’s motto “managing knowledge means managing oneself”. But, managing oneself in the multicultural world of globalization requires a deep motivation supported by a well-trained cognitive-reflexive and volitional potential. Discussing in these terms we enter, in fact, into the interdisciplinary field of applied philosophy, cognitive pragmatics and cultural studies. More specifically, I mean an intercultural project of a self-reflexive nature applicable in the multicultural world of globalization.
2. A self-reflexive intercultural project and the multicultural world of globalization
Beyond the reductionism and illusions of modern historicism that led to catastrophic political experiments and, to the same extent, beyond the dissolving skepticism of postmodern relativism without solutions, a cognitive-pragmatic reconstruction in the fields of applied philosophy and cultural management is underway. The “distrust of metanarratives” and the prophetic historicism of modernity (Lyotard, 1978/1984) cannot be counteracted only by the “contingency of language” and the “private irony” of postmodern deconstructionist semantic games (Rorty, 1989). In fact, we are now in the situation of capitalizing in the field of cultural management the acquisitions of applied philosophy, cognitive pragmatics, intercultural studies. In this context, starting from the research of the multicultural world of globalization and from my own reflections as a participating observer, I propose an intercultural project of a self-reflexive nature. From my point of view, a self-reflexive intercultural project aims to cultivate the intercultural competences using its own conceptual apparatus and an appropriate strategy for its implementation in reality. I would add that a self-reflexive intercultural project – as a community reflexive therapy project – is more credible when it is inspired by one’s own intercultural experience accumulated over time.
2.1 Cognitive pragmatics and therapeutic self-reflexivity. About the conceptual-experiential structures
Researches in linguistics, semiotics, pragmatics, cultural anthropology, mind philosophy, developmental psychology, neuroscience has led in recent decades to remarkable results in understanding the deep connections between thought, language and action. Developed on this background of cooperation, cognitive pragmatics appears as an interdisciplinary field of research of the cognitive processes involved in the acts of intentional communication and initiation of social actions (Bara, 2010; Schmid ed., 2012). As specialists in the field argue, cognitive pragmatics focuses on researching the associative and inferential processes to find the lexical meaning in the context perceived as a web of words (Asher, 2011). But, the discovery of the “meaning in context” is also due to the close connection between the semantics of natural language and cognitive psychology. In the flow of thought-communication-action, “the grammatical structure of natural language provides an important source of evidence for the theory of knowledge” (Jackendoff, 1983, p. 3). The correct use of words in the natural language and the study of the meanings of words in different situational contexts help us in the way we conceptualize, judge, evaluate, make decisions. We are, therefore, in a semantic-cognitive context in which the semantics of natural language and the dynamics of cognitive processes become compatible. According to Ray Jackendoff’s hypothesis, “there is only one level of mental representation, the conceptual structure, in which linguistic, sensory, and motor information are compatible” (Jackendoff, 1983, p. 17; Jackendoff, 1993, pp. 279-312). The fact that a single level of mental representation – the conceptual structure – is able to make linguistic, sensory and motor information compatible gives to the conceptual structure cognitive power and operational capacity. Managing the relationships between linguistic-semantic competence and cognitive performance is impossible in the absence of conceptual structures that mark the place where semantics meets cognition. This is the special place of cognitive pragmatics where the words and verbal expressions from natural language become concepts and conceptual structures in the processes of knowing and initiating action.
Conceptual structures appear where semantics meets cognition, but in real life the meeting of semantics and cognition occurs against the background of experiential states of consciousness. Conceptual structures are not just some semantic games. During the different situations we face throughout life — from those of cooperation to those of competition and conflict — we live different experiential states of cognitive-reflexive, emotional-affective, motivational-volitional nature. In these existential circumstances, I am thinking of refining the term “conceptual structure”. Probably, the verbal expression conceptual-experiential structure would be a more appropriate term for a self-reflexive intercultural project. Next, I will show how such structures are formed by conceptualizing words and verbal expressions with the help of the mental operations against the background of existential states of the consciousness. Understanding the conceptual-experiential structures by exploring the existential states of one’s own consciousness favors the penetration into the experiential interiority of one’s own mental activity and its understanding as the operational center of therapeutic self-reflexivity. Unlike reflexivity which is an impersonal discourse about the thinking who thinks himself with the help of objective concepts and conceptual structures, the therapeutic self-reflexivity marks an important change of perspective: personalizing reflexivity, more precisely, assuming reflexivity in personal name. Becoming a term of reference, the personal pronoun “I” imprints the mark of self-referentiality. Self-reflexivity is self-referential, expressing itself through its own conceptual-experiential structures in a discourse in the first person. As a therapeutic reflexion, the self-reflexivity participates to the exploration of my consciousness in different life situations, as well as to the examination of thought acts and the cultivation of reflexive processes useful for the development of my own therapeutic strategies. Being a personalized reflexive-therapeutic process characterized by cognitive, emotional, volitional self-control, therapeutic self-reflexivity gives the measure of its comprehensive capacity and its moral responsibility.
But let’s take a closer look at how, through the conceptualization of personal experiences we succeed to develop a series of conceptual-experiential structures. In a complementary way to positivist, objective and impersonal researches on globalization and multiculturalism from a historical, sociological, economic-financial, geopolitical point of view, the self-reflexive-therapeutic approach conceptualizes, for therapeutic reasons, life narratives and personal experiences lived in the multicultural world of globalization. Specifically, I mean to the reflexive filtering of my intercultural experiences in different socio-cultural contexts and life situations. In this way, my own narrative identity is outlined. As can be seen, I appeal to the concept of narrative identity perceived as, “a person’s internalized and evolving life story, integrating the reconstructed past and imagined future to provide life with some degree of unity and purpose” (McAdams & McLean, 2013, p. 233). Reconstructing the autobiographical past, synthesizing episodic but significant memories, I try to provide a coherent account of my cultural identity over time. Thus, a series of significant stages in my life come to my mind: the memories from my childhood spent in Tulcea, a port-city at the gates of the Danube Delta, a picturesque settlement still multicultural at the beginning of the cultural homogenization imposed by the communist regime; the experiences of student life in communism together with my colleagues from the cities and villages of the different historical and geographical provinces of Romania: Moldova, Muntenia, Oltenia, Transylvania, Banat, Crișana, Maramureș, Bucovina, Dobrogea; the intercultural experiences in my own professional-academic training, after the fall of communism, on university campuses in the European Union; my perception as a researcher and participating observer, on the dynamics of multiple identities in the multicultural world of globalization; confronting the theories of globalization and multiculturalism with my own perceptions and emotional reactions in face the waves of immigrants facing the European Union; assessment, in the context of the Covid 19 pandemic, of my own experiences compared to those of people from different cultural backgrounds etc. In this way, living my own reflexive experiences in the world of globalization and cultural interactions, I can filter my feelings through the conceptual-experiential structures that encapsulate experiential-reflexive states with existential-therapeutic potential.
Finally, the time has come to present the conceptual-experiential structures used in this essay. More precisely, I refer to the elaboration of the conceptual-experiential structures with the help of an exercise of compositional semantics inspired by Nicholas Asher’s theory of “lexical meaning in context”. This theory, the author argues, ” (…) has implications for compositional semantics, for example for the architecture of verbal and nominal modification” (Asher 2011, p. IX). As we will see in the following examples, through the semantic connection of some different words we can compose conceptual-experiential structures with specific meanings in our self-reflexive approach. Thus, the connection of the words “culture” and “recognition” generates through their conceptualization and semantic combination in the flow of thought and communication, the conceptual-experiential structure: the culture of recognition. By connecting on the background of experiential feelings the verbal expressions “behavioral model” and “deliberative-consensual”, we obtain the conceptual-experiential structure: the deliberative-consensual behavioral model. Combining the words “self”, “reflexive”, “intercultural”, “project”, we configure a conceptual-experiential structure that we called: the self-reflexive intercultural project. Connecting the words “self”, “reflexivity”, “therapeutic”, we arrive at conceptual-experiential structure: the therapeutic self-reflexivity. Also, by connecting the words “multicultural”, “world”, “globalization”, we can think and articulate a conceptual-experiential structure with its own semantic nuance. It is about the multicultural world of globalization. In a similar way, by connecting the words “thinking”, “dialogue”, “comprehensive”, we obtain a flexible and operational conceptual-experiential structure: the dialogical-comprehensive thinking. Connecting the words, “dynamics”, “multiple”, “identities”, we can construct a conceptual-experiential structure: the dynamics of multiple identities. Also, using the term “connective identities” (Volkart, 2010) together with those of “dialogue”, we can build another conceptual-experiential structure with therapeutic potential: the dialogue of connective identities. Together, these conceptual-experiential structures make up the conceptual apparatus for a self-reflexive intercultural project. But, the use of this conceptual apparatus in such a self-reflexive community therapy project involves the elaboration of an adequate implementation strategy: the cognitive-pragmatic strategy.
2. In search of the culture of recognition. How can the cognitive-pragmatic strategy act as an operational semantic network
The philosophical conception underlying this intercultural self-reflexive project could thus be formulated: unlike the physical reality — an objective reality perceived as something in itself, something given as such (datum) — the social reality acquires life and meaning through praxis. In our practical activity the subjective and the objective merge because we, the people, are at the same time the subject and the object of our own thoughts and actions. This means that knowing the socio-human reality is in fact a self-knowledge based on an objective-subjective approach. In these specific circumstances, both the intercultural project of the culture of recognition as well as its implementation strategy should be designed from a double perspective: impersonal analysis of the objectif researcher connected to the debate of ideas around globalization and multiculturalism and the personalized perspective of the participating observer with a multiple identity living his own reflexive experiences in the multicultural world of globalization. This double approach connects the impersonal analysis of global politics with the personalized perception of identity policies, thus giving to the involved researcher an appropriate position to seeking the answer to the question: how could the multicultural world of globalization become more inclusive and empathetic ?
Trying to answer this question as an involved researcher, I use an implementation strategy capable of operationalizing the conceptual-experiential structures presented previously by involving them in a functional approach able to inspire and initiate intercultural behavioral patterns. Such a mental arrangement through which cognitive processes are involved in the acts of intentional communication and initiation of intercultural behavioral patterns can be called, cognitive-pragmatic strategy. The idea that inspired this strategy, thus structuring our intercultural project is the following: the dynamics of multiple identities shape the multicultural world of globalization, but the dialogue of connective identities can make the multicultural world of globalization more inclusive and empathic. But, how could the cognitive-pragmatic strategy help us in implementing this idea ? By cultivating dialogical-comprehensive thinking and training the intercultural competences, the dialogue of connective identities opens the horizons of the culture of recognition. Perceived as a deliberative-consensual behavioral model, the culture of recognition can become a path to a more inclusive and empathetic world: the intercultural world of globalization.
It can be seen that the cognitive-pragmatic strategy for implementing conceptual-experiential structures in reality is presented in the form of an operational semantic network of the conceptual-experiential structures. Mental constructs with semantic potential and explanatory power, the conceptual-experiential structures appear as the nodal points of this operational semantic network thus participating, due to the informational-cognitive baggage concentrated in them, to the mental processing and the solving of some theoretical and practical problems. Unlike concepts as — culture, recognition, deliberative, consensual, behavioral, model, thinking, dialogue, comprehensive, competences, identity, multiple, connective, globalization, multicultural, intercultural — perceived separately, the conceptual-experiential structures – culture of recognition, deliberative-consensual behavioral model, dialogical-comprehensive thinking, intercultural competences, dynamics of multiple identities, dialogue of connective identities, multicultural world of globalization, intercultural world of globalization – connected in an operational semantic network contribute to the more flexible and accurate modeling of the phenomena of the globalisation and multiculturalism. The coherence and operationality of the semantic network give veracity and functionality to the cognitive-pragmatic strategy and, respectively, to the self-reflexive intercultural project. In conclusion, the explanatory and operational character gives to the network of conceptual-experiential structures previously presented the capacity to contribute, even partially, to the understanding of the multicultural world of globalization and, implicitly, to the design of the sectorial strategies appropriate to some reasonable intercultural policies.
But until the use of this conceptual apparatus in the cultural policies, this reflexive-therapeutic strategy will be tested trough a two-phase cognitive pragmatics experiment. In the first phase, I will set up a comprehensive and operational mental image inspired by the first sentence of this scenario: “the dynamics of multiple identities shape the multicultural world of globalization”. In this referencial frame, I will look at how the relationship between identity and recognition works in the multicultural world of globalization, more specifically, to what extent do liberal democracies respond to the request for political recognition of multiple identities (III. The dynamics of multiple identities in the multicultural world of globalization – a comprehensive and operational mental image). In the second phase, inspired by the second sentence of the scenario – “the dialogue of connective identities can make the multicultural world of globalization more inclusive and empathetic”- I will get closer to the perception of the culture of recognition as a deliberative-consensual behavioral model able to make the multicultural world of globalization more inclusive and empathetic (IV. The culture of recognition: a behavioral model in search of a more inclusive and empathetic world. The intercultural world of globalization).
2.3. The dynamics of multiple identities in the multicultural world of globalization – a comprehensive and operational mental image
Based on the above, I will continue to focus on issues related to the recognition of multiple identities in the multicultural world of globalization. Connected as an analytical researcher to the important theoretical positions in the research of the multicultural world of globalization, I live at the same time my own experiences and develop my own reflexions on globalization and multiculturalism. The double perspective assumed in this intercultural project – of the analytical researcher and of the participating observer – opens the possibility of configuring a comprehensive and operational mental image that could be called: the dynamics of multiple identities in the multicultural world of globalization. I will further show how this mental image can be configured by combining the objective studies of the analytical researcher and the reflexive experiences of the participating observer.
3.1. The dynamics of multiple identities in the multicultural world of globalization. A mental image from a double perspective
To outline, as an analytical researcher, the mental image “the dynamics of multiple identities in the multicultural world of globalization”, I had to capitalize on a series of sociological, psychological, anthropological, organizational contributions concerning the phenomenon of globalization and its cultural impact in the contemporary world. Trying to systematize them, I further mention some of the scientific contributions that I have assimilated over time. From the perspective of global connectivity: the theories about the multidimensional and transformative impact of globalization (Giddens, 1990; Robertson, 1992; Held, McGrew, Goldblatt, Perraton, 1999; Scholte, 2000; Ritzer and Dean, 2015); from a cognitive-cultural perspective: the cultural dimensions starting from understanding culture as “the collective programming of the mind” (Hofstede, 1980; Hofstede & Hofstede, Minkov, 2010), and the model of the seven images of the national culture (Wursten, 2019); from an anthropological perspective: the theory of the interaction of flows (demographic, communication, technological, financial, ideological) in the world of globalization (Appadurai, 1996); from a sociological perspective: the sociology of globalization and the transnational social spaces, the theory of cultural globalization as a circulation of cultures and the emergence of new individual and collective cultural identities (Beck, 2000: Crane, 2011).
It is important, at the same time, for an analytical and objective researcher to pursue the ideological positioning of individual and collective identities in the multicultural world of globalization. Thus, from the perspective of economico-political elites and large corporations, neoliberalism acts as a vector in the dynamics of the interests of multiple identities in the multicultural world of the global economy. On the other hand, supporters of populist nationalism highlight the economic inequities, social polarization, unemployment, the collapse of general welfare and social programs, the loss of national state sovereignty and the decreasing the share of national cultures. Adherents of environmentalism and communitarianism, in turn, estimate the inequity of the world order created by globalization, its hierarchical, exploitative and polluting character. Schematically, we could say that the followers of globalism consider globalization a real, irreversible and inevitable phenomenon, a new era in the history of human civilization, while followers of global skepticism describe globalization as a mythical-ideological structure with destabilizing effects on a global scale. Finally, the proponents of transformism propose an ambiguous line of thinking, globalization being for them the engine of rapid, contradictory, contingent and unpredictable social, economic, political, cultural transformations. Unlike globalist and skeptical followers, the transformists does not judge the trajectories and finality of globalization, considering that the phenomenon itself is neither good nor bad, but only contradictory and conjectural.
Regarding the dynamics and meaning of cultural globalization in the contemporary world, I recall the vision of the three types of scenarios (Hassi, Storti, 2012). It can be seen how each of these scenarios – heterogenization, homogenization, hybridization – foreshadows a certain dynamic of cultural identities against the background of cultural globalization: the exacerbation of cultural identities as a reaction to cultural globalization perceived as cultural homogenization; convergence of cultural identities in a global, standardized culture favored by international flows of capital, services, information-technological transfer; creating sui generis hybrid cultural identities as a result of the interaction of internal-external information flows and the complex mixture of homogenization and heterogenization.
From the complementary perspective of the participating observer, I can configure in a composite mental image the dynamics of my identities (professional, gender, generational, ethnic-national, racial, denominational-religious) when I recall my identity experiences in the multicultural world of globalization. Through its ability to encompass such a large experiential spectrum, this composite mental image captures the process of continuous positioning and repositioning of multiple identities in the multicultural world of globalization. Thus, cultural identities appear as “the points of identification, the unstable points of identification or suture which are made within the discourses of history and culture” (Hall, 1994, p. 226). Personalizing, I would say that the dynamics of multiple identities in the multicultural world of globalization was gradually configured as a mental image through my reflexive experiences as a participant observer who lived the first half of his life in communism and the second during the complicated transition to democracy and market economy. In the circumstances of life in communism, an expression such as “the dynamics of multiple identities in the multicultural world of globalization” could have appeared as a subversive statement, opposed to slogan: “the working people united under the wise leadership of the Romanian Communist Party are building the multilaterally developed socialist society”. The necessary connection between the two existential components, the dynamics of multiple identities and the multicultural world of globalization, has gradually taken shape in my mind by living the complex experience of the post-communist transition in Romania. The difficult social-historical experience specific to this transition, I think entitles me to support that the multicultural world of globalization is the way trough which the multiple identities, i.e. each of us, assimilate the globalizing and competitive nature of human civilization. After all, the dynamics of multiple identities, spectacular and often dramatic, shape the multicultural world of globalization. The more this dynamic grows, the more the competition, the performances and the dramas of the multicultural world of globalization are more amplified and diversified.
At the same time, as a participating observer I have to verify the veracity of the mental image called, “the dynamics of multiple identities in the multicultural world of globalization”. My argument is as follows: the multicultural world of globalization is the expression of the competitive and globalizing nature of Homo Sapiens, the creative species of human civilization on Earth. Therefore, the multicultural world of globalization is the expression of the competitive and globalizing nature of human civilization. In other words, the multicultural world of globalization is nothing but the way in which we express through the dynamics of multiple identities our own competitive and globalizing nature as a creative species of civilization on planet Earth. Perceived as an existential condition, the globalizing and competitive nature of human civilization has a strong motivational impact on the identity dynamics of people and different cultural communities. In the constant search for resources, gains, and investments, globalizing and competitive human civilization amplifies the dynamics of multiple identities.
In conclusion, I make the following statement: the existential connection between the dynamics of the multiple identities we participate in and the multicultural world of globalization in which we live helps us to shape a coherent and comprehensive mental image: the dynamics of multiple identities in the multicultural world of globalization. But is this mental image, at the same time, functional ? Could such a cognitive tool be operational for the intercultural project dedicated to the culture of recognition ? Specifically, how are cultural differences profiled against the background of this mental image ? To what extent can cultural differences be recognized in the multicultural world of globalization ?
3.2. Identity and recognition. About cultural differences and the avatars of their recognition in the multicultural world of globalization
The dynamics of multiple identities in the multicultural world of globalization raises many issues for liberal democracies, “because they give, in principle, equal representation to all” (Gutmann, 1994, p. 3). But, “can citizens with different identities be represented as equals even if public institutions do not recognize our particular identities, but only universally shared interests in civil and political liberties, income, health care, and education ?” (Ibidem, pp. 3-4). What happens, in these situations, with the other specific cultural identities, related to language, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, race ? To what extent can these multiple cultural identities manifest in the public space ? Is there a limit to recognition of multiple cultural identities ? In other words, I am talking about cultural differences and the avatars of their recognition in the multicultural world of globalization.
In a reference study entitled Politics of Recognition, Charles Taylor launched the thesis that “our identity is partially shaped by recognition or its absence” (Taylor, 1994, p. 25). The need for recognition the individual identity arose against the background of the collapse of feudal economies and hierarchically stratified societies. In that historical context, the imperative of recognizing universal human dignity has generated the modern concept of the equal individual identity of all citizens that has inspired the norms of Western liberal democracies. Gradually, however, during the late modernity dominated by the process of globalization and the emergence of multicultural communities, the monadic concept of universal identity began to be compete by a constructivist, dialogical and relative concept of identity. The dialogical character of human life gives identity a dialogical character, therefore, “my own identity crucially depends on my dialogical relationship with others” (Taylor, 1994, p. 34). As a person, I am the consciousness of the deep self that is expressed as a multiple identity through a complex of natural and cultural affiliations: sex, race, ethnicity, national, professional, confessional-religious, etc. My multicultural identity manifests itself through the relationships with others and through my public recognition as an active person in society. There is, at the same time, a fusion and an underlying tension between the inner identity lived in the self-consciousness and the multiple identities through which we manifest, relate, we are known and recognized in society. This tension is find again in the tensions that agitate the multiple identities and their recognition both both privately and publicly.
In recent decades, debates on identity and recognition have taken place against the background of multiculturalism research and the assessment of the impact of migration waves in the USA, Canada, European Union countries. In these circumstances, an objective researcher of social reality finds that the need for recognition is supported both by followers of the equal dignity and by followers of cultural differences. There is, as the same time, an intertwining and a confusion between the two orientations, the followers of each of them being looking for nuanced and operational arguments and interpretations. Charles Taylor, for example, argues that equal dignity is the prerogative of natural rights liberalism, a form of classical liberalism “inhospitable to difference” because it is based on the uniform application of rules to the all citizens. Fortunately, the Canadian philosopher points out, there are “other models of liberal society” that apply the policy of equal respect in a “more hospitable way” to cultural differences through their explicit recognition (Taylor, 1994, pp. 25-73). Steven C. Rockefeller, on the other hand, analyzes the politics of cultural differences in relation to natural rights and the values of liberal democracy, highlighting the danger of extremist forms that threaten the ideals of universal freedom and inclusive community (Rockefeller, 1994, pp. 87-98). Michael Walzer, in turn, suggests the existence of two universalist perspectives on liberal democracies and, hence, two ways of practicing liberalism, interchangeable according to circumstances: “liberalism 1” centered on individual rights, state neutrality, separation from church and “liberalism 2”, more democratically allowing communities to determine public policies (Walzer, 1994, pp. 99-103). Despite the common origin found in political modernity, one can see here the difference between the orientation of equal dignity, of universal rights for all citizens and claiming cultural differences against the background of globalization and multiculturalism of late modernity.
In this ideational context, a series of stimulating questions for the development of political thought and practice arose: can the modern conception of universal rights provide answers to concrete, immediate problems of postmodern multicultural societies ? Isn’t the politics of the equal dignity somehow maintained in an abstract framework, too general, incapable of concrete solutions as adequate as possible to contemporary societies ? It is not perpetuated in this way a dangerous situation generating interethnic conflicts? “The problem, Will Kymlicka answers sharply, is not that traditional human rights doctrines give us the wrong answer to these questions. It is rather that they often give no answer at all. The right to free speech does not tell us what an appropriate language policy is; the right to vote does not tell us how political boundaries should be drawn, or how powers should be distributed between levels of government; the right to mobility does not tell us what an appropriate immigration and naturalization policy is. These questions have been left to the usual process of majoritarian decision-making within each state. The result (…) has been to render cultural minorities vulnerable to significant injustice at the hands of the majority, and to exacerbate ethnocultural conflict” (Kymlicka, 1995, p. 5). What, then, would be the solution in principle for the Canadian researcher? “To resolve these questions fairly, we need to supplement traditional human rights principles with a theory of minority rights. (…). A comprehensive theory of justice in a multicultural state will include both universal rights, assigned to individuals regardless of group membership, and certain group-differentiated rights or ‘special status’ for minority cultures. (….). A liberal theory of minority rights, therefore, must explain how minority rights coexist with human rights, and how minority rights are limited by principles of individual liberty, democracy, and social justice” (Ibidem, 1995, pp. 5-6). Concluding, as an objective researcher of social reality, I note that the policy of recognizing cultural differences is the answer of multicultural neocivism in the US and Canada to the need for integration of Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asians, women, homosexuals. An answer considered by Charles Taylor and Will Kymlicka the sign of the evolution from the political imaginary of modernity marked by the idea of the primordial equality of individuals to the political imaginary of late modernity characterized by the recognition of individual and group cultural differences.
At the same time, as a participating observer in the dynamics of multiple identities and living in the multicultural world of globalization, I found that the plurality of ways of life highlights the fact that the desired good can be achieved through different cultural patterns. I also noticed that when abstract reason proves inoperative in the face of moral dilemmas raised by real life challenges, a modus vivendi of different conceptions and lifestyles can become an useful solution. The idea of relativity and contextuality does not imply, however, the abandonment of moral exigencies nor the fall into an amoral relativism. The existence of several ways in which people can thrive and even be happy leads to the idea that, despite the fact that these ways of life are different and even competing, none of them is the best for everyone. Modus vivendi, or the coexistence of different ways of life, is based on the idea of the existence of several cultural models that are profitable for people, precisely because none of them is the best for everyone. Modus vivendi does not mean the search for the ideal regime, but obtaining a reasonable compromise through institutional and/or interpersonal reconciliation of different ways of life and cultural models. It is a reasonable compromise based on the historical reality of socio-cultural pluralism. Modus vivendi does not, therefore, mean ascending to a superordinate value that all ways of life should respect, but accepting the idea that all ways of life contain values and interests which make from the peaceful coexistence a necessity and from the reasonable compromise a realistic-pragmatic method (Carpinschi, 2002, pp. I- XVI).
But even these statements can appear too abstract and too vague. In this situation, I felt the need to collaborate with other researchers directly confronted with the problem of recognizing cultural differences in the world of globalization. Such that, in a study in collaboration with an African researcher we showed that a modus vivendi in the absence of real intercultural dialogue and an inclusive policy generated by addressing the issues of resource redistribution, values reallocation and equitable social reproduction is hard to imagine (Carpinschi, Tonyeme, 2011, pp. 7-26).
Concluding, in the double quality of an objective researcher and a participating observer, I configured the mental image of the dynamics of multiple identities in the multicultural world of globalization and, against its background, I have presented some theoretical approaches relating to the cultural diversity of the communities and the acceptance of their demands in liberal democracies. Following the cognitive-pragmatic strategy for implementing the self-reflexive intercultural project in reality, I aim to further demonstrate that by activating the dialogue of connective identities we can assimilate the culture of recognition as a deliberative-consensual behavioral model capable of making the multicultural world more inclusive and empathetic.
4. The culture of recognition: a behavioral model in search of a more inclusive and empathetic world. The intercultural world of globalization
It is spoken frequently in different contexts about high culture and mass culture, television culture and, more recently, internet culture, about urban culture and popular culture, about economic, politics, religious, musical culture, about classical culture and modern culture and so on. Partial and somewhat disorienting, this enumeration poses a series of questions and, of course, the issue of necessary delimitations. In fact, there have been in modern history a series attempts for finding a synthetic meaning of the term “culture”. The 18th century thinkers emphasized the Enlightenment meaning – the culture was understood as the “education of spirit” through the instruction of the young and the circulation of knowledge. The 19th century — the century of positivism and the industrial revolution — defined culture as a social fact, opening the way for the ethnological researches of culture perceived as “a manner of living of a people”. Unfortunately, the ethnic, nationalist and racist slippages of the 20th century amplified by imperialist, fundamentalist and segregationist policies have tragically separated the so-called “upper cultures” from the so-called “lower cultures”.
What about the culture of the 21st century ? Could we find a “cleaner” concept of culture, a simple and honest conceptual-experiential structure invulnerable at the manipulations of any kind ? According to the cognitive-pragmatic scenario avanced in this essay, to achieve such a performance we should convert the dynamics of multiple identities into the dialogue of connective identities. Such a conversion involves training of intercultural competences in the world of global connectivity. In this way, the dialogue of connective identities opens the horizons of the culture of recognition. Benefiting from a comprehensive and operational potential, the conceptual-experiential structure named “the culture of recognition” concentrates the cognitive resources of a research project and intercultural educational program. Systematically cultivated on an intellectual and empathetic level by every being and by the society as a whole, the recognition and comprehension can contribute to the release from prejudices and the improvement of the human way of being. By assuming the culture of recognition we assimilate, in fact, the lesson of the dialogue of connective identities in the intercultural world of globalization.
4.1. From the dynamics of multiple identities to the dialogue of connective identities. About intercultural competencies in the world of global connectivity
One of the first steps in converting multiple identities into connective identities is to adopt the most appropriate concept of identity. As profound as it is ambiguous, the term “identity” – the American sociologist Rogers Brubaker observed – is “divided between hard and soft meanings, between groupist assumptions and constructivist qualifiers, between connotations of unity and multiplicity, sameness and difference, permanence and change. Understood in a strong sense – as implying a singular, abiding, foundational sameness – ‘identity’ tends to mean too much; understood in a weak sense – as multiple, fluid, fragmented, negotiated, and so on – it tends to mean too little” (Brubaker, 2004, p. 4). In this pluri-semantic context, I subscribe to the position of the American sociologist who supported “that the work done by ‘identity’ might better be done by several clusters of less congested terms: identification and categorization, self-understanding and social location, commonality and connectedness” (Ibidem). In our self-reflexive intercultural project, the subsumption of such pairs of terms (clusters) capable of capturing the different meanings of the concept of identity was achieved by designing conceptual-experiential structures such as, the dynamics of multiple identities and the dialogue of connective identities.
Converting multiple identities into connective identities also involves training intercultural competences. In last decades, research in cognitive psychology, communication sociology, intercultural management have made numerous contributions to the theory and practice of intercultural competences. Here are some examples. For Brian H. Spitzberg and Gabrielle Changnon intercultural competence means “the appropriate and effective management of interaction between people who, to one degree or another, represent different or divergent affective, cognitive, and behavioral orientations toward the world” (Spitzberg & Changnon, 2009, p. 7). Reflected in normative categories such as nationality, race, ethnicity, tribe, religions, region, these orientations are most frequently manifested through intergroup interactions. Leveraging the role of intergroup interactions through empirical research and quantitative analysis in the university intercultural environment, Darla K. Deardorff proposed a “pyramidal model” of intercultural competence. Thus, a number of components/factors were brought to attention, among which: 1) desired external outcome (effective and appropriate behavior and communication); 2) desired internal outcome or informed frame (adaptability, flexibility, ethno-relative view, empathy); 3) knowledge and comprehension (cultural self-awareness, sociolinguistic awareness); 4) skills (to listen, observe and interpret, to analyse, evaluate and relate); 5) requisite attitudes: respect, openness, curiosity, discovery (Deardorff, 2006, pp. 241-266). In a complementary way to empirical research, some conceptual analysis about intercultural competences focused on the study of moral principles and values, on explaining and evaluating their impact on the life of groups and the relationships between them. “To investigate intercultural competence — writes Gert Jan Hofstede — one must take a look at what it means to be ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in a moral circle” (Hofstede, 2009, p. 85). The notion of “moral circle” could therefore be perceived as a “key” to understanding intercultural competences. Due to the inclusion / exclusion mechanisms depending on the observance / violation of the norms of social coexistence, the groups function as true “moral circles”. Cultivating trust through mutual knowledge, reconciling different life goals, adapting leadership styles, knowing one’s own biases encourage the communication of “moral circles” and, implicitly, intercultural competences.
But, the conversion of multiple identities into connective identities involves, nowadays, the training of intercultural competences in the new media of informational communication. In the world of global connectivity, the Internet, social networks, information communication platforms have penetrated so much into our lives that they have become integral part of the professional and private lives of each of us. In these circumstances, the coexistence of offline and online sociality, the combination of direct communication in the middle of social realities with communication through media technologies, the discerning use of social media allow the assimilation of what has been called “the culture of connectivity” (van Dijck, 2013). We could say that connective identities are the multiple identities that have assimilated the culture of connectivity, in other words, connective identities we can be each of us in the hypostasis of informed and cooperative users, but critical and reactive at the same time to fake news and the manipulation through social media. After all, the virtual world of the Internet is nothing but the world of human performances and vices technically and informatively multiplied. In these conditions, in order to shape an increasingly technological society in the horizon of moral values, it is important for each of us to use intelligently the technical and informational means, always paying attention to the training of intercultural competences and moral behaviors.
Concluding, by training intercultural competences, we as people with multiple identities can gradually assimilate a “culture of connectivity”, thus manifesting ourselves in the multicultural world of globalization as connective identities capable of shaping – through the behavioral model of the culture of recognition – interculturality as a lifestyle. Based on the cultivation of dialogical-comprehensive thinking, the culture of recognition can become a path to a more inclusive and empathetic world.
4.2. The culture of recognition: a path to a more inclusive and empathetic world. About dialogical-comprehensive thinking and intercultural lifestyle.
Sometimes it happens that, against the background of the worrying realities we live in, we imagine in our reflexive experiences possible more inclusive and empathetic worlds. Conceptualized, these reflexive experiences took the form of conceptual-experiential structures: the dialogical-comprehensive thinking, deliberative-consensual behavioral model, intercultural competences, dynamics of multiple identities, dialogue of connective identities, multicultural world of globalization, intercultural world of globalization, the culture of recognition. Connected in the flow of thought, these conceptual-experiential structures have become the nodal points of an operational semantic network that gives consistency and meaning to an intercultural project of a self-reflexive nature. According to this project, the systematic cultivation of dialogical-comprehensive thinking and intercultural competences configures over time a deliberative-consensual behavioral model. Assimilated by connective identities as an intercultural lifestyle, this pattern of behavior can become a path to a more inclusive and empathetic world under the auspices of the culture of recognition.
The ideational center of this intercultural project is the dialogical-comprehensive thinking. Dialogical-comprehensive thinking is a dialogical thinking capable of comprehensive experiences. By the comprehensive experience I understand the deep perception of a situation from reality by transposing into the respective situation and its understanding as my own experience. The penetration into the experiential interiority of some situations from reality becomes possible through the personalized experiencing of those situations with the help of “the dialogical self”. As demonstrated by Hubert Hermans the positionings and repositioning of the dialogical self have “the ability to imaginatively endow each position with a voice, so that dialogical relationships can be established between positions (…). Voices function as characters interacting in a story (…). As different voices, these characters exchange information about their respective selves, resulting a complex, narratively structured self” (Hermans, 1999, p. 72). But this narrative structured dialogical self has a huge comprehensive and empathetic potential. How could the presence of this comprehensive and empathic potential be explained ? The dialogical self combines the internal dialogue with the interpersonal dialogue, thus generating a process of self-exploration and cultivation of the mind. Exploring consciousness through the dialogical self allows the deepening of self-knowledge and the configuration of one’s own personality profile. On the other hand, the encounter of the self with the other triggers the interpersonal dialogue that allows a better orientation of the person in the world. By meeting the other, the dialogical self has the opportunity not only to know the neighbor, but also to test his own capacity for understanding, recognition and collaboration. Living cognitive, affective, volitional experiences in different contexts, evaluating situations and finding solutions by practicing both inner dialogue and interpersonal dialogue contributes to the development of dialogical-comprehensive thinking. The dialogical situations are therefore conducive to comprehensive experiences.
The dialogical-comprehensive thinking is an experiential-conceptual structure very close to the social-cognitive model of identity developed by Michael D. Berzonsky. According to this model, “identity is conceptualized as a cognitive structure or self-theory, which provides a personal frame of reference for interpreting self-relevant information, solving problems, and making decisions. Identity is also viewed as a process that governs and regulates the social-cognitive strategies used to construct, maintain, and/or reconstruct a sense of personal identity” (Berzonsky, 2011, p. 55). The dialogical-comprehensive thinking is such a social-cognitive model that gives consistency and meaning to connective identities. In this way, by demonstrating adaptive capacity and emotional intelligence, the dialogical-comprehensive thinking can coordinate the dynamics of multiple identities by making them interact more effectively as connective identities in the multicultural world of globalization. Monitoring the comprehensive experiences through awareness of mental states in different cultural environments and situational contexts allows exploring self-awareness and increasing self-confidence. Through the experience of meeting, collaborating and living together in multi-ethnic, multicultural, multireligious environments, the dialogical self can verify the authenticity and depth of one’s own choices, states and experiences. Thus, as an ideational centre in action, the dialogical-comprehensive thinking becomes a cognitive vector for modelling the deliberative-consensual behavior of the culture of recognition.
As a deliberative-consensual behavioral model, the culture of recognition stimulates the communicative interaction of different cultural models and, by default, the configuration of an intercultural lifestyle. In these circumstances, the culture of recognition can pave the way to a more inclusive and empathetic world: the intercultural world of globalization. In a complementary way to the analytical, objective and impersonal researches about globalization and multiculturalism, the self-reflexive-therapeutic approach of the participating observer conceptualizes life narratives and personal experiences in the multicultural world of globalization. As I have already stated, it’s about the reflexive filtering of my intercultural experiences on a personal and community level in different socio-cultural contexts and life situations. In this way, therapeutic self-reflexivity participates to the narrative modelling of one’s own identity in the multicultural world of globalization. My own intercultural experiences shape my narrative identity. I limit myself now to evoking some intercultural experiences from the years of childhood and youth, determinants in the formation of the personality of each of us. During the communist regime, the authentic intercultural experiences, protected from the harmful influence of the propaganda apparatus, were unfolding only in private contexts. For me, living of childhood and youth in a multicultural family from the city at the gates of the Danube Delta – a city considered cosmopolitan in the interwar period – was the chance to assimilate early an intercultural lifestyle. Moreover, at school, in addition to most Romanian colleagues, I learned and played in the years 1950-1960 together with colleagues from Greek, Jewish, Armenian, Lipovan, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Turkish, Tatar families. When you are born and raised in such a multicultural environment as Dobrogea – that region of Romania between the Danube and the Black Sea with an old and rich multicultural history – the assimilation of the intercultural competences and of the culture of recognition appears as the natural way to learn to live inclusive and empathetic experiences in a multicultural world.
5. Instead of conclusions. From a cognitive-pragmatic experiment to a project for educating intercultural competences in Romania
The implementation of a project for educating intercultural competences in Romania involves the social assimilation of a certain behavioral model. Capitalizing on the potential of dialogical-comprehensive thinking, in this essay I advanced a deliberative-consensual behavioral model for educating intercultural competences that I called “the culture of recognition”. The idea of an intercultural project configured around the culture of recognition is older, being expressed in the last two decades through a series of books, studies and essays, as well as through numerous courses and conferences which I have argued in the university environments as well as in Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant theological circles in Romania.
But, the elaboration of an intercultural project on a national or regional scale is much more complex, involving important intellectual and material resources, interdisciplinary teams, working methods and tools, psychological, sociological, political, cultural researches on representative samples, reasonable proposals and effective solutions. More specifically, for the elaboration of an intercultural education project in the Romanian society, I think that we should start from the capitalization of the international experience accumulated in the institutions, research and design centres, in the applied and verified programs, methods and techniques. Thus, under the auspices of Academic Cooperation Association (ACA, Brussels) and Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS, Twente) in 2004 has appeared the first report on National and European Policies for the Internationalisation of Higher Education. This is a comparative analysis of national educational policies in Austria, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the United Kingdom, as well as on European-level educational policies (Huisman & van der Wende, eds., 2004). From the normative-institutional perspective of the Council of Europe, the document entitled Intercultural competence for all configures the coordinates of a model aimed at “preparation for living in a heterogeneous world”. Focused on “learning to live together”, this model pursues a number of important objectives: intercultural education, education for democratic citizenship, global education, education for social capital, education for civility, peace education (Huber edited by, 2012). More recently, under the auspices of UNESCO and Rutledge Focus, in a Manual for developing intercultural competences is presented a flexible and accessible methodology for developing intercultural competences in a variety of formal and informal contexts. It is about the methodology of “Story Circles” tested by UNESCO in five countries in different regions of the world: youth in Thailand and Tunisia, sexual minorities in Zimbabwe, indigenous peoples in Costa Rica, immigrant pupils in Austria (Deardorff, 2020). For the development of this intercultural project we could also capitalize the scale of integration of multicultural identity (Yampolsky, Amiot, de la Sablonnière, 2016).
Regarding the particular aspects related to the educational situation in Romania, I am considering the following aspects: understanding the links between ethics values and national culture in the Eastern European context can help design effective intercultural policies in Romania (Warter & Warter editors, 2020); knowledge of the psychological profile of Romanians from a cognitive-experimental perspective is indispensable for the elaboration of an intercultural educational project in Romania (David, 2015); the use of the Cognitrom Career Planner methodology – a school and professional guidance platform coordinated by Professor Mircea Miclea from “Babeș-Bolyai” University in Cluj-Napoca is also useful for empirical research of intercultural education. These statements I think could serve as a first sketch for a possible intercultural education project in Romania.
In conclusion, the stake of the cognitive-pragmatic experiment presented in this essay is to find a way to convert the dynamics of multiple identities from the multicultural world of globalization into a dialogue of connective identities in the intercultural world of globalization. In other words, this self-reflexive-therapeutic essay is an attempt to tame our own competitive and globalizing nature with the help of the culture of recognition perceived as a deliberative-consensual behavioral model. By cultivating dialogical-comprehensive thinking and training the intercultural competences, the dialogue of connective identities opens the horizons of the culture of recognition, a path to a more inclusive and empathetic world: the intercultural world of globalization.
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