Multicultural Messages in Public Discourse

By Barbara Lynn Speicher.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Perceived challenges to nationalism often provoke vitriolic, anti-immigrant public discourse in Western societies. An imagined threat to the status of English increases this tendency in the United States of America. Definitions of and discourses about multiculturalism abound. Kincheloe & Steinberg (1997) outline five types of multiculturalism in the USA: conservative (nativist), liberal, pluralist, left-essentialist, and critical. They argue that while liberal and pluralist multiculturalism express positive messages about diversity on the surface, neither tolerates systemic solutions to social problems, which might change the status quo. Left essentialist and critical multiculturalism challenge hegemony, but only the latter acknowledges the intersectionality of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and culture. Oppositional discourse is crucial to any democracy in its ability to contest hegemonic interpretations of an event. This paper analyzes the inclusive, multicultural messages published in newspapers across the USA in response to the announcement of the release of a Spanish language version of the national anthem. These messages are situated in Kincheloe & Steinberg’s five forms of multiculturalism, emphasizing the two categories that challenge the status quo.

Keywords: Multiculturalism, Discourse Analysis, Language Status, Immigration, Social Justice, Nuestro Himno

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp.15-28. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 628.334KB).

Dr. Barbara Lynn Speicher

Associate Professor, College of Communication, DePaul University, Chicago, IL, USA

Barbara L. Speicher, received her M.A. in Linguistics from Ohio University and her Ph.D. in Linguistics and Language and Cognition from Northwestern University. Since joining DePaul University in 1988, she has taught linguistics courses and courses in multicultural and intercultural communication. Her research examines language attitudes, discourse analysis of media representations, and communication patterns within and between groups in the multicultural U.S. The main focus of that work attempts to reveal both differences and similarities between groups, in terms of class, race, gender, and power; to expose the normative tone of traditional literature, particularly as it defines co-cultural groups as deviant; and to examine theories stemming from both ethnographic and experimental research within the framework of natural discourse. Her work has appeared in Language in Society, The Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development , Curriculum Inquiry and The Howard Journal of Communication.


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