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Majority-minority constellations: Towards a group-differentiated approach


  • Koopmans, Ruud
  • Orgad, Liav


Multiculturalism has taken a life of its own, swinging too far in one direction. The authors claim that the rapidly changing reality calls for a new majority-minority theory and argue that the moral justifications for cultural minority rights should also apply to majority groups. They present two areas in which majorities may become culturally vulnerable and need legal protection: the regulation of immigration and representations of national identity in the public sphere. The core of the argument is rooted in a unique framework to address majority-minority constellations. This "intergroup differentiation approach" distinguishes between "homeland majorities" and "migratory majorities", alongside the traditional distinction of indigenous/national and migratory minorities. In doing so, the authors criticize the tendency in the multiculturalism literature to gloss over differences between the Anglo-Saxon classical immigration countries, where majorities are of migratory origin, and the countries of the Old World, where new minorities of immigrant origin face indigenous majorities. The authors provide practical examples for the implementation of their approach and explain the different meanings of cultural majority rights. Only by a contextualized and relational consideration of groups, they thus conclude, can competing demands of majorities and minorities be fairly evaluated.

Suggested Citation

  • Koopmans, Ruud & Orgad, Liav, 2020. "Majority-minority constellations: Towards a group-differentiated approach," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Migration, Integration, Transnationalization SP VI 2020-104, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbmit:spvi2020104

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Koopmans, Ruud, 2018. "Cultural rights of native majorities between universalism and minority rights," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Migration, Integration, Transnationalization SP VI 2018-106, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
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    More about this item


    majority rights; minority rights; nationalism; multiculturalism; populism; immigration; indigenous peoples; Mehrheitsrechte; Minderheitenrechte; Nationalismus; Multikulturalismus; Populismus; Zuwanderung; indigene Völker;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • K33 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - International Law
    • K37 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Immigration Law

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