Cultural diversity and the law: challenge & accommodation

by Ralph Grillo

Working Papers WP 09-14
September 2009
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

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Contemporary European societies are all, to greater or lesser degrees, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, both in terms of their indigenous (regional) diversity and in terms of the diversity which has stemmed from the mass immigration of workers and refugees, and their settlement. Currently, however, there is a widespread and often acrimonious debate about cultural difference and its limits, evidence for which may be observed in the media (newspapers and television), in election manifestos, in parliamentary debates and statements by ministers, in policy initiatives at local, national and international levels, and in the daily preoccupations of, among many others, social workers and teachers. Not least among those others are lawyers and the many different groups and individuals who are concerned with or touched by the law. This paper focuses specifically on the legal field, and the law in relation to ‘other’, possibly conflicting, values and practices, and discusses what is happening in regard to their legal ‘accommodation’.

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