The influence of cultural diversity on civil society: a comparative study of language variation and social stratifications in the developing world
This thesis investigates the strength of civil society in the developing world as it relates to linguistic diversity and social stratification. The central hypothesis of this research maintains that the strength civil society is not always dependent upon a macro understanding of the cultural composition of a country (i.e. homogeneous or heterogeneous); but instead upon a more micro understanding which looks at how various groups within a social system coalesce and negotiate their roles in society. This argument is explored by employing an interdisciplinary methodology that begins with a quantitative study followed by a qualitative analysis. The purpose of the dual methods is crucial to the process of understanding both how and why cultural diversity affects the strength of civil society. Regressions based on survey data in 119 developing countries derived from the 2006 Bertelsmann Transformation Index reveal the expected negative correlation between the amount of cultural diversity (measured by language variation) in a country and the strength of its civil society, but with low explanatory power. The data indicates that vibrant civil society can exist in both culturally homogeneous and heterogeneous societies. Four case studies conducted in India, Nigeria, Bolivia, and Chile show that developing countries with vibrant civil societies owe their success to the absence of deeply embedded social stratifications and the presence of upward social mobility among minorities. As a consequence, weak civil society tends to be fairly persistent in countries where the opportunity for social mobility is low. This research concludes: (1) linguistic diversity weakens the strength of civil society (but with low explanatory power), and (2) there is an inverse correlation between the embeddedness of social stratifications and the strength of civil society in the developing world.
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