Democracy is not only about the voice of the majority, but also about space for minority groups. But the position of and space for minorities can sometimes lead to major social tensions.
Global developments (migration, major growth in inequality, increase in difference in information sources and digital social bubbles, increase in concerns about the future and livelihood security in relation to climate change, among other things) and national policy changes (deterioration of the welfare state) have recently led to increasing polarization between groups. In this context, people tend to stay within their own comfort zones and seek as little connection as possible with groups that are distant from them. Distance between groups then creates even more misunderstanding and polarization.
These are also issues that society in general and policymakers in particular struggle with. In this course, students start by unraveling the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement as a case and then connect this case themselves with various themes that are discussed during the course each week. This creates more and more deepening layers in the BLM case.
In this course, students investigate the relationships between democracy and diversity and what conditions are needed for the tensions of diversity to lead to renewal and enrichment and not to polarization and conflict. Various valuations of diversity (as an enrichment or problem) are discussed on the basis of the distinction Thomas Hylland Eriksen (2006) makes between horizontal and vertical approaches to diversity. The horizontal approach concerns forms of diversity that can coexist without hierarchical judgment (diversity perspectives as enrichment). The vertical approach, on the other hand, is based on a hierarchy, in which diversity is primarily seen as a deviation from the norm (e.g. ethnic majority versus minorities). We study diversity as added value and as a source of tension, both in the broad, conceptual sense and in relation to the BLM case, which is approached from different dimensions throughout the course.