Current and Future Developments in Law

Volume: 2

Cultural Rights and Vulnerable People in a Multicultural World

Author(s): J. Alberto del Real Alcala

Pp: 1-33 (33)

DOI: 10.2174/9781681085937117020004

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


In this chapter, we address the rights of the persons and groups to cultural freedom. This issue is particularly important in the context of our current diverse, multicultural society. The cultural diversity that makes our modern societies unique has reconsidered some of the relevant notions on the Constitutional State and the theory of rights, leaving room for questions of identity and belonging. The starting point of the right that concerns us here is the unquestionable fact that cultural uniformity and religious unity have disappeared as the essential elements of identity on which the birth of the modern State was based. This occurrence has led to a recognition of the “cultural differences” among the Constitutional State's population. The fact has been reflected in constitutional theory, and thus Peter Haberle goes so far as to refer to “culture” as the fourth element in the Constitutional State, as opposed to the conventional notion that limits the elements that make up the State to the traditional ones of territory, population and power. This chapter addresses the subject of people's freedom to belong to a culture and to identify themselves through it as a significant fact in the area of rights. This applies to individuals' “freedom rights” in particular, but it is also part of each person's right to a cultural identity. A right to cultural freedom as part of a person's right to cultural identity is permanently disassociated from the type of uniform equality that was protected by the abstract universality that used to be proclaimed. On the contrary, such a right is associated with each individual's specific life, evaluating cultural belonging in the context of diversity and as part of people's essential development. Cultural self-identification is incorporated into the category of subjective rights, with the intention of overcoming any situation of discrimination that may arise in this regard.

Keywords: Belonging, Constitutional State, Cultural equality, Cultural freedom, Cultural identity, Cultural rights, Diversity, Non-discrimination, Vulnerable groups, Vulnerable persons.

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