Ideological Perspective of Diversity: Overview, Limitations & Example

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

There are many different ways to think about and study diversity, and each perspective has advantages and disadvantages. This lesson focuses on the meaning and relevance of the ideological perspective of diversity.

Understanding the Ideological Perspective

Callie is a college student who has been thinking a lot about diversity, or difference, this year. She is a white woman from a small town and identifies as straight. Callie has dyslexia, a learning disability that affects her reading and writing. She knows that each of these aspects can impact how people read her, treat her, and choose to identify with her. She knows that she also forms opinions about others because of their social identity, especially categories like race, socioeconomic status, gender, sexuality, and ability.

Callie hears many people at her college express strong ideologies, or philosophies, about what diversity is and why it matters. She learns that the ideological perspective is one way to think about diversity. This perspective maintains that diversity impacts how people think and formulate ideas. This perspective emphasizes the merits of a diverse environment and the ethical imperative to celebrate diversity and avoid an unnecessary blurring of social boundaries. It is different, for instance, from multiculturalism or even from political perspectives oriented more toward representation. Instead, the ideological perspective of diversity is first and foremost a philosophical stance that maintains there is strength in difference.

Examples of Diversity in Ideology

Now that Callie understands what the ideological perspective of diversity is all about, she is ready to think of some real world examples.

First, Callie thinks about the dorm where she lives. Though there are only women in her dorm, they represent a wide array of racial identities and ethnic backgrounds. Sometimes, Callie wishes they could overlook these differences and focus on their similarities. More and more, she learns from her dorm mates' different perspectives, experiences, and approaches to being college students. Callie realizes that living with these differences, including the discomforts that come along with them, makes her a stronger person. This experience helps her understand the ideological perspective of diversity.

Next, Callie thinks about some of her classes. Right now, she is taking an English class where she is only one of two women. When the men in the class talk about female characters in novels, Callie often realizes that she has something to share from her perspective as a woman. Though she avoids speaking up from a tokenizing perspective that would have her voice matter solely because of her gender, Callie can see how diversity in the classroom is elevating the overall level of the discourse.

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