chapter  1
Introduction: Respecting the Citizens—Reflections on Language Policy in Canada and the United States
Pages 32

A pressing issue all over the contemporary world is the recognition of the cultural worth of its inhabitants. Managing cultural diversity as a permanent feature of the international social order is among the most taxing of political issues. Having failed to control, if not always contain, intercultural conflict through traditional means, we are now searching for new means of social integration. New methods for tackling the old problem of intergroup tensions will have to look beyond the conventional academic disciplines and ideologies drawing on economics, psychology, and political science and seek to incorporate more poignant radical ideas and insights in a more syncretic manner. In this chapter I raise several issues of substance that inform the detailed, critical debate maintained by my colleagues elsewhere in this volume. Drawing on issues raised in the following chapters, I reflect here on managing classic immigrantsocieties, conceptualizations of nationhood, some dynamics in multicultural societies, the linguistic hegemony of English, principles of social justice, similarities and differences between Canada and the United States, and future possibilities for languages in those two countries. The most significant issue is the question of the distribution of power in society and the encouragement of democratic

participation by interest groups who hitherto have felt emasculated within the liberal state, despite the growth of what may be termed the politics of equal recognition in recent decades.