Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Pluralism refers to theories and practices that favor the inclusion and tolerance of human differences. These differences could involve politics, religion, ethno-racial identity, cultural tradition, language, or something else. The study of pluralism varies with academic discipline. Political scientists describe pluralism as a feature of an open, democratic society in which people have political freedom, can express dissenting opinion, and can pressure government. Religion scholars examine differences within denominations as well as cooperation between different denominational and theological traditions. Sociologists and anthropologists focus on cultural pluralism, or the interrelationships between distinct groups—particularly ethnic, racial, or cultural groups. Their various approaches have led to lively debates about how best to conceptualize and empirically study pluralism. These different disciplinary approaches to pluralism tend to share a concern with how social problems can arise when an individual or group is restricted from peaceful participation in the political system, cultural traditions, religion, or some ...