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1.2 The challenges of living in culturally diverse societies

Although multicultural societies are becoming the norm, this does not mean that all individuals within them enjoy equal and fair treatment, and have their human rights respected and protected. Many migrants continue to view themselves as guests in their adopted country even though they may have lived there many more years than they did in their own country of birth. With increasing population movements within the European Union many people find themselves being labelled as ‘outsiders’ and are seen by some xenophobic members of the ethnic majority as ‘problems’ even though they are all European Union citizens.

Despite European legislation and international agreements migrants and asylum seekers from any part of the world are often accused of (for example):
  • Benefiting from national systems they had not contributed in;
  • Taking the jobs of local people;
  • Bringing crime to the host country;
Newcomers to a country face hostility but must try to tackle the challenges they face in order to integrate within their adopted country. These challenges include:
  • Learning the language of the host country;
  • Familiarizing themselves with the new social systems e.g education, health, welfare support, etc;
  • Developing social networks;
  • Learning about the values of their adopted country;
  • Learning about the law of the host country; etc.

Read more on:

The Council of Europe:

The RCN’s Transcultural Healthcare Practice: an educational resource for nurses and health care practitioners:


Papadopoulos I (2002): Meeting Health Care Needs in Culturally Diverse Societies. In Daly J et al (Eds): Contexts of Nursing: an Introduction. ISBN 1-4051-0095-8, Chapter 16, pp 196-208, Blackwell Science. Oxford.

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