Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
At its most general, pluralism in contemporary political theory is the idea that we should attend to difference and multiplicity in society and politics in contrast with sameness and unity. Beyond that, pluralism can mean many different things. The multiplicity in question can be of political parties, interest groups, spheres of authority, or of religious, moral, or ideological beliefs, or paradigms of belief, or of cultures and ways of life, or of goods or values. The purpose of drawing attention to these dimensions of plurality may be to provide an empirical description of a culture, society, or political system, or to make a normative recommendation to the effect that some such aspect of diversity is desirable and ought to be promoted or accommodated. The following are four main areas in which conceptions of pluralism have been advanced, either descriptively or normatively. Special attention will be paid to “value pluralism,” as ...