Meeting Diversity’s Challenge to Democracy: Integrating Refugees into Western Societies

Meeting Diversity’s Challenge to Democracy: Integrating Refugees into Western Societies: (Sociology, Architecture, Politics, Global Health, Religious Studies)


Milton Vickerman

Earl Mark

Richard Merkel

Mark Schwartz


The rapid diversification of the American population along racial and cultural lines is emerging as a dominant theme in the twenty first century. Among the many questions this trend provokes, few are more important than whether a society fragmented into opposing interest groups is the inevitable fate of the United States. This is a question that faces Europe just as acutely. Famed more optimistically, considering both the likelihood of continued population diversification and the positive qualities of this trend, it could be asked, qua Sociologists Douglas Hartmann and Joseph Gerteis (2005), under what conditions might it be possible to attain unity within diversity? Theoretically speaking, though not always true, increasing diversity facilitates societal fragmentation by encouraging pursuit of group self-interest over bridge-building with other groups, or prioritization of notions of an overarching community consisting of shared values. Such a scenario could lead to heightened social tensions and the rise of alternative centers of power challenging the status quo. This project will invite UVA faculty who are interested in addressing this complex phenomenon that is unfolding in North American and Western Europe. Specific research envisioned in  Managing Diversity’s Challenge to Democracy might include sociological research into the incorporation of immigrants in one or more Western society; the history of migration and its effects on changing religious identities and policies in North America and Western Europe; and trans-disciplinary research that draws on a wide-range of disciplines (e.g., history, sociology, politics, economics, religious studies, and European languages and literatures).