In the present chapter I reflect on the possible meaning and significance of multiculturalism in relation to developments in Denmark. This should immediately be qualified in a number of ways: First, I am in the nature of the case more concerned with anti-multiculturalism than with multiculturalism, since the Danish state has never adopted an official multiculturalism policy and the criticism of multiculturalism has been dominant in public discourse for over a decade. Secondly, I will draw attention both to the quite different possible meanings of ‘multiculturalism’ and the different ways in which it might find expression and the levels at which this might happen, my point being that it makes little sense to call for one single overall judgment about what multiculturalism in Denmark (or any other country) is. Thirdly, an important focus of the chapter will be the apparent change in the official Danish attitude towards multiculturalism heralded by the new center-left government that came into power in late 2011, relative to the former center-right government, which had been in office for three consecutive terms since 2001. Finally, I will sketch some theoretical considerations which can explain why these conceptual distinctions and empirical developments are normatively significant. In so doing, I will consider what is really at stake in debates over multiculturalism in a country like Denmark, suggesting that multiculturalism controversies are not only or primarily about the actual policies adopted, but concern the way in which policies are framed, the terms in which they are debated, and the ‘symbolic meaning’ with which they are thereby associated.
Debating Multiculturalism in the Nordic Welfare States, 2013, p. 170-196