One of the best writers on this topic is Prof Lawrence Harrison, the author
of several books concerning the relationship of culture to progress. The linked article includes a nine-minute audio interview with Harrison that is worth your attention: The End of Multiculturalism
, (Christian-Science Monitor, Feb 26, 2008).
The author puts his ideas into practice at Tufts` Cultural Change Institute
Since the 1960s, multiculturalism has become a dominant feature of the political and intellectual landscape of the West. But multiculturalism rests on a frail foundation: cultural relativism, the notion that no culture is better or worse than any other â€“ it is merely different.When it comes to democratic continuity, social justice, and prosperity, some cultures do far better than others. Research at Tufts University`s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, summarized in my recent book, "The Central Liberal Truth: How Politics Can Change a Culture and Save It From Itself," makes this clear.Extensive data suggest that the champions of progress are the Nordic countries â€“ Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden â€“ where, for example, universal literacy was a substantial reality in the 19th century. By contrast, no Arab country today is democratic, and female illiteracy in some Arab countries exceeds 50 percent.Culture isn`t about genes or race; it`s about values, beliefs, and attitudes. Culture matters because it influences a society`s receptivity to democracy, justice, entrepreneurship, and free-market institutions.
Below is Prof Harrison`s handy chart comparing progress-friendly cultures to progress-averse ones, taken from his Social Contract
article, Immigrants and Culture