National Minorities and Ethnic Immigrants: Liberalism’s Political Sociology

“National Minorities and Ethnic Immigrants: Liberalism’s Political Sociology” (2002) 10 Journal of Political Philosophy 54-78.

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Drawing on the practices of culturally diverse liberal democracies, Will Kymlicka’s Multicultural Citizenship distinguishes between two types of ethnocultural groups—national minorities and ethnic immigrants—and claims that they differ in terms of their institutional completeness (complete vs. incomplete), manner of incorporation (voluntary vs. involuntary), the demands they place on liberal democracies (inclusion on fair terms vs. institutional separateness), and the rights they possess (polyethnic vs. self-government rights). Moreover, he claims that this sociological practice is normatively justified. On closer reflection, Kymlicka’s account is both normatively and sociologically deficient. Normatively, immigration against the background of material inequality undermines the legitimizing role of consent. As well, the normative work done by political sociology is highly questionable. Finally, Kymlicka’s political sociology is inaccurate.