Information Society Offers New Opportunities to Develop Multiculturalism

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Helsinki, 28 April, 2004 — Information Society Offers New Opportunities to Develop Multiculturalism

Immigration and multiculturalism are important factors in competition. However, they have not been sufficiently taken into account in planning the information society.

The Finnish National Fund for Research and Development Sitra’s report Multiculturalism and the Information Society charts the opportunities offered by the information society from the perspective of immigrant workers and multiculturalism. The report is written by Mikko Pakarinen.

Combining the progress of the information society and multiculturalism constitutes a national challenge and Finland has to find a way to that takes into consideration multiculturalism in its entirety. The advance of the information society offers opportunities in this respect at several different levels and in different ways.

According to the report willingness to cooperate exists across ethnic boundaries but how resources and responsibility are to be shared poses a considerable problem. Multiculturalism is not something that different sectors compete over or is even in general regarded as particularly attractive.

- Because of the breadth of its implications multiculturalism is a phenomenon that should take precedence over developing the information society. However, since the assignment of measures and resources to promote the latter seems easier, multiculturalism needs to become actively involved in the process of developing the information society, suggests Pakarinen.

In the last resort the frictions arising from coordinating the information society and a multicultural community result from insufficient information on both sides. Lack of information slows down the work done by civil servants and immigrants and exacerbates the difficulties of integrating immigrants into Finnish society. The challenges facing the information society are directed towards the individual and his or her personal ability, knowledge and skills when it comes to actively participating in the information society.

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