Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

Bridging cultures: Multiculturalism, social integration, intergroup relations and education in the Canadian context

Dawn Michelle Gordon-Popatia, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Multiculturalism and a committment to an ideology of cultural pluralism has been both a high profile and contentious government policy since its origin in Canada in the early seventies. Multiculturalism has also influenced educational practices and opened the way for multicultural and race relations education. With continuing high immigration, successfully meeting the challenges of cultural pluralism in society and education, and gaining support for its commitments from the public, is increasingly important. This study examines these challenges by considering the ideals, strengths, weaknesses, evolution and misconceptions of a philosophy of multiculturalism with emphasis upon educational implications. Three fundamental elements of multiculturalism are considered: ethnic identity, social integration and intergroup relations. This research contributes to the literature by providing a qualitative component focusing upon the experiences and perceptions of immigrant youth who are experiencing social integration into the Canadian multicultural society. The above themes are examined through the relevant literature and an exploratory study. Group discussions were held with adolescents, mostly immigrants, in homogeneous or similar ethnic/cultural groups--Latin Americans, Chinese, Vietnamese and South Asians. The conversations focused upon ethnic identity development, acculturation, intergroup relations and the youths' perspectives on North American culture and multiculturalism--particularly in the context of secondary schools in Vancouver. Three of the groups were held in the mother tongue. The themes are discussed by respective ethnic/cultural groups and comparisons and commonalties between the groups are explored. The interviews emphasize the development of "new ethnicities" as the youths engage in "cross-cultural analysis" and accommodate their new environment without forfeiting their ethnic identities. The latter part of the study exposes misconceptions around multiculturalism and, supported by the findings from both the literature and the interviews, illustrates both the evolution and potential of multiculturalism as an approach to managing cultural diversity. The final section examines the implications of the findings for schooling in a culturally pluralistic society. Although the study is set in the Canadian context, it has applicability for various culturally diverse nations concerned with social integration, intergroup relations and their educational implications.

Subject Area

Bilingual education|Multicultural education|Curricula|Teaching|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Gordon-Popatia, Dawn Michelle, "Bridging cultures: Multiculturalism, social integration, intergroup relations and education in the Canadian context" (1994). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9510525.