Rethinking Belonging in Western Nations: Theorizing the Public Commons as a Shared Pluralistic Community
Keywords:commons, Dewey and democracy, citizenship education
Western nations are becoming increasingly socially and ethnically diverse. National policies aim to address this diversity through policies such as multiculturalism in Canada, which promotes appreciation for cultural pluralism. However, policy rhetoric can hide social issues related to increasing diversity. Using Canada as a case study discussion, this paper begins by reviewing some of the issues associated with increasing social and ethnic diversity, including racism and conflict over values, and then discusses these issues in relation to contemporary political concepts which aim to build social harmony. It argues that we need to rethink how we understand diversity within a communitarian conception of community—theorized as that of the public commons. The paper concludes with recommendations that aim to improve citizenship education, with a focus on increasing youth’s knowledge of civic life, particularly their understanding of this concept of the public commons.