Pluralism and factors that affect it

After a heated discussion of this topic in the Professor Egea’s class, The Plurilingual Individual, I decided to share my thoughts on this issue.

From my understanding, pluralism is a complex process which includes fairness, respect, and equity toward diversity; a set of decisions made in direction to pluralism. It does not have an endpoint or a limit (Boutilier, 2012).

Pluralism considerably depends on the government’s policy and trajectory toward the minority languages and cultures, which is one of the factors that drives some countries either to pluralism or conflicts (Boutilier, 2012). In Kazakhstan the president, who is an undisputed leader of the country, highly supports the diversity. A new trilingual language policy has been recently initiated by the president, whose goal is to master three languages – Kazakh, Russian, and English. Furthermore, the presidential language policy concerning multilingualism and pluralism prevents the interethnic conflicts.

In terms of economic factors that affect pluralism, I would definitely agree with the fact that poverty can impede pluralism through political and social isolation. If we compare Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, there are considerable differences in their economic development. Although we share the common history of being former Soviet Republics, and were faced with the same problem of self-determination after the collapse of the Soviet Union, further development showed significant differences. The Kazakhstan’s economy began to grow due to the abundant natural resources, especially oil reserves, whereas the Kyrgyzstan’s economy did not experience such growth. From my perspective, poverty coupled with other factors led to interethnic conflicts in Kyrgyzstan.

I would also like to mention another pluralism driver – education and culture. As Boutilier (2012) argues, “education is a route to intercultural literacy and communication as well as sustainable human development” (p. 12). In the case of Kazakhstan, multiculturalism is a norm. However, officially there are only Kazakh-speaking and Russian-speaking groups in all public educational institutions. A small number of schools, such as Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools (NIS) practice trilingual education with Kazakh, Russian, and English languages of instruction. Trilingual education requires trilingual teachers, which is a current problem that necessitates changes in the curricula of teacher education programs.

In a nutshell, pluralism can be achieved by any country, but as was mentioned above, it is an infinite and complex process that requires not only the support of the country, but also the willingness of the society to respect other cultures and ethnicities residing in the same country. It is hoped that our Kazakhstani society is headed in the direction of pluralism, where all these pluralism drivers play a pivotal role.


Boutilier, B. (2012). Defining Pluralism. Pluralism Papers, 1

3 thoughts on “Pluralism and factors that affect it

  1. Dear Arna!
    Thank you for your interesting ideas about the pluralism! I absolutely agree with the point that pluralism leads us to the democracy and could prevent social instability as well as discrimination by race and language. Also, I support your position in terms of the financial support that is needed in order to develop pluralism. However, I strongly believe that the first our aim is to develop trilingualism in Kazakhstan. This strategy is beneficial as for foreigners as for our local citizens because it allows every citizen to choose among languages.
    Thank you for this post!


  2. Arna, I agree with your point that pluralism is very important in any multiethnic country today. Moreover, it is considered as a key challenge of the 21st century. So, we could see that pluralism is not only important for the development of a democratic state, but also for the whole world to be one global community. As you mentioned, one of the pluralism drivers is education. I emphasize early childhood education that provides a critical foundation for pluralism. Many research studies reveal that attitudes and behaviors acquired in the earliest years of life can shape an individual’s perceptions and life choices in fundamental ways. Hence, exposing young children to pluralistic thinking and conditions that inculcate respect for difference and diversity is a vital pathway to pluralism. I also support the viewpoint of Kofi Annan who quotes: “whatever our background, what unites us is far greater than what divides us. Strong, healthy and cohesive societies are built on three pillars – peace and security; development; and the rule of law and respect for human rights” (Address by Kofi Annan at the Global Centre for Pluralism, May 23, 2013). Therefore, diversity should be seen as a source of strength; only then societies can become healthier, more stable and prosperous.


    1. Dear Arna,
      I enjoyed reading yr position towards the plurilingual individuals in multiethnic society. I also read this articl and understood that Kazakhstan is an excellent example in integrating and defing singularities in pluralistic society. Among the Central Asain countries Kazakhstan became one of the prominent country which defined and protected the rights of plurilinguals in the multiethnic society.


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