Cultural Diversity in People’s Attitudes and Perceptions
Economy and Society
Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano
This paper shares the approach of social constructivism, and maintains that diversity should be examined not ‘par excellence’, as an entity in itself, but as reflected in people’s minds and expressed in their attitudes and perceptions. On the basis of an empirical Bulgarian-Finnish intercultural research the paper states that diversity is not essential, given and unproblematic. Rather, it undergoes constant evolution. What is considered now ‘different’ can in future be seen as more or less ‘similar’. The informants characterized people with a religious, ethnic or racial background, other than theirs, as ‘distant’ and ‘different’, while people belonging to groups with the same origin were designated as ‘similar’ and ‘close’. This means that cultural diversity can also be translated into a social-psychological distance. Thus diversity is context-bound and cultural groups are always seen and appraised from the perspective of one’s own particular cultural paradigm.