In sociology and political studies, the term diversity (or diverse) is used to describe political entities (neighborhoods, student bodies, etc.) with members who have identifiable differences in their cultural backgrounds or lifestyles.
The term describes differences in racial or ethnic classifications, age, gender, religion, philosophy, physical abilities, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, gender identity, intelligence, mental health, physical health, genetic attributes, behavior, attractiveness, or other identifying features.
In measuring human diversity, a diversity index measures the probability that any two residents, chosen at random, would be of different ethnicities. If all residents are of the same ethnic group it's zero. The diversity index does not take into account the willingness of individuals to cooperate with those of other ethnicities. If half are from one group and half from another it's .50.
Political creeds which support the idea that diversity is valuable and desirable hold that recognizing and promoting these diverse cultures may aid communication between people of different backgrounds and lifestyles, leading to greater knowledge, understanding, and peaceful coexistence. For example, "Respect for Diversity" is one of the six principles of the Global Greens Charter, a manifesto subscribed to by Green parties from all over the world. In contrast to diversity, some political creeds promote cultural assimilation as the process to lead to these ends.
Use in American academia
This use of diversity in this sense also extends to American academia, where in an attempt to create a "diverse student body" typically supports the recruitment of students from historically excluded populations, such as students of African-American or Latino background as well as women in such historically underrepresented fields as the sciences.
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- Affirmative action
- Identity politics
- Individual and group rights
- Racial segregation
- Workplace diversity