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'Negotiating the 'Modern Wilderness of Interests': Bernard Bosanquet on cultural diversity

Tyler, Colin



This article argues that, despite its reputation as a homogenising and authoritarian system, the political thought of Bernard Bosanquet contains resources with which to develop a robust and culturally sensitive model of liberal multiculturalism. Throughout the discussion, Bosanquet's thought is located within contemporary theoretical debates. The first section rehearses the critique of Millian liberalism developed by Bhikhu Parekh and others, which alleges that the considerations of individuality and autonomy underlying such a political order preclude it from showing adequate respect for cultures which do not conceive of personal identity in essentially individualistic terms. The next section sketches Bosanquet's social theory, as a preclude to the rebuttal of allegedly insurmountable barriers to the theory's accommodation of cultural diversity. Specifically, section three counters the objection that Bosanquet sanctions the imposition of internal restrictions on personal dissent. The final section rebuts the claim that a General Will cannot exist within a culturally diverse society, showing that in reality Bosanquet's theory leads us to endorse the ‘fundamental beliefs’ of a multi-ethnic society outlined recently in the Parekh Report. It is concluded that, when drawing on Bosanquet's thought, a liberal multicultural society can take different forms and yet still show proper respect for cultural diversity.


Tyler, C. (2002). 'Negotiating the 'Modern Wilderness of Interests': Bernard Bosanquet on cultural diversity. Contemporary Political Theory, 1(2), 157 - 180.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 1, 2002
Online Publication Date Jul 25, 2002
Publication Date Jun 1, 2002
Journal Contemporary political theory
Print ISSN 1470-8914
Electronic ISSN 1476-9336
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan (part of Springer Nature)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 1
Issue 2
Pages 157 - 180
Keywords Multiculturalism; Bernard Bosanquet; General will; Liberalism; Idealism
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