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The Flip Side of Diversity

It is important and interesting not only be aware of minuses of the lack of diversity but also are there any negative outcomes of diversity itself. Awareness is always better even if it’s uncomfortable.

Characteristics of Diversity

To apply to the cons of diversity, it is reasonable to understand its structure. The basic level is represented by the all-way interaction between individuals and institutions; in case of cultural diversity, we need to consider mediating the role of culture and involve individuals’ different backgrounds and those institutions that establish policies to support diversity (Jones, Dovidio, & Vietze, 2013). While the social construction of diversity refers to factors that determine an individual’s position in society [The Diversity Wheel], (Johnson, 2006), cultural diversity is determined by communication styles, values, beliefs, rituals, symbols, and language - those that form cultural reality. It is also important to understand the subjective nature of culture (Jones, Dovidio & Vietze, 2013).

Socio-cultural diversity refers to aspects of culture that can influence an individual’s interactions with others of different backgrounds. Though cultural differences may lead to misunderstandings poor communication and even critical situations, diversity considers awareness of these differences and respect for them; specialists advise considering concepts of cultural shock, ingroup/outgroup trust, dignity, and role modeling to address situations related to diversity (Skybrary, 2013). Moreover, it was found that diverse information and perspectives can potentially boost group performance, but diverse groups rarely benefit from their diversity (Homan, van Knippenberg, Van Kleef & De Dreu, 2006). However, the general opinion of scholars indicates the positive impact of diversity on different groups and even between the groups; thus, it was found that ingroup diversity may increase trust for outgroups (Ely & Thomas, 2001; Laurence, 2011). Kaufman (2004) emphasized the importance of visibility of the diverse groups, especially from the historical perspective, as the main requirement for diversity.

What Is an Antonym for “Diversity”?

Diversity is a multifaceted term and any facet has its counterpart. Depending on what exactly is meant, the list of opposite phenomena usually includes uniformity as a result of coevolutionary dynamics (Fu & Wang, 2008), diversity fault (Homan, van Knippenberg, Van Kleef & De Dreu, 2006), diversity deficit (Storey, 2015). The uniformity, as a most non-obvious term, may be exhibited in different ways, including selection, coordinating signals that include hard-to-fake displays, and the imposition of certain protocols of communication (Laor, 2013).

Lack of Diversity

Speaking about negative outcomes of diversity, we usually refer to a lack of diversity. Indeed, individual reactions on lack of diversity may be severe: people who find themselves in a position of “stranger” in society that does not accept diversity usually feel isolated, experience frustration, helplessness, anxiety, and stress, may demonstrate inconsistent or erratic behavior. All of these cause the downshifting of an individual’s well-being and performance (Skybrary, 2017). Yu-Fu Tuan in his lecture (2018) pays attention to common misconceptions that prevent diversity from improvement - the idea that progress increases diversity and the idea that ethnic culture should be stable.

Negative Effect

The main sources of the negative effect of diversity are the opposition of majority and minorities and perceived threat to individual self-identification (Major, Blodorn & Blascovich, 2016).

Stolle, Soroka, and Johnston (2008) have found that diversity also may have a negative impact - on majorities - while approving that levels of sensitivity are equal for everyone. Storey (2015) mentioned “diversity fatigue” as negative reaction on diversity promotion. According to Laurence and Bentley (2016), diversity is capable to undermine community cohesion because of increasing the number of members and changing attitudes from out-groups.

Term and Concept Limitations

Bell & Hartmann (2007) warn us against the ambiguous definition/understanding and calming effect of the concept of diversity which obscures deep structural problems of our society. They refer diversity to American democratic idealism with its tendency to celebrate diversity as a value itself while others take advantage of the vague term to reaffirm and naturalize inequality.

Storey (2015) suggested that diversity should be broadened, re-evaluated and reframed because it does not match modern world realities, so she assumed that concept and term of diversity are outdated and irrelevant to trendsetting of the 21st century.

Johnathan Katz in his article “Why I Hate Diversity” (2017) wrote that diversity is dangerously pacifying due to its absolutely positive context in our society, and distracts our attention from things that really need to be addressed. Under the sign of diversity, he wrote, we hide even the idea that our society has competing agendas. Katz argued that we should distinguish the terms “visibility” and “presence” because minorities actually have never been absent but silenced in our society, so inclusivity is not a decision. Katz proposes the term “discord” instead of “diversity”.


Bell, J. M., & Hartmann, D. (2007). Diversity in Everyday Discourse: The Cultural Ambiguities and Consequences of “Happy Talk.” American Sociological Review, 72(6), 895–914.

Ely, R. J., & Thomas, D. A. (2001). Cultural Diversity at Work: The Effects of Diversity Perspectives on Work Group Processes and Outcomes. Administrative Science Quarterly, 46(2), 229–273.

Fu, F. & Wang, L. (2008). Coevolutionary dynamics of opinions and networks: From diversity to uniformity. Physical Review, 78. Retrieved from DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.78.016104

Jones, J.M., Dovidio, J.F., & Vietze, D.L. (2013). The psychology of diversity: Beyond prejudice and racism. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated

Homan, A. C., van Knippenberg, D., Van Kleef, G. A. & De Dreu, C. K. W. (2006) Bridging Faultlines by Valuing Diversity: Diversity Beliefs, Information Elaboration, and Performance in Diverse Work Groups. Research in Management. Erasmus Research Institute of Management: Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Retrieved from

Katz, J. D. (2017). Why I Hate Diversity. Art Journal, 76(3/4), 88–91.

Kaufman, N. (2004). Historic Places and the Diversity Deficit in Heritage Conservation. CRM: The Journal of Heritage Stewardship, 1(2). Retrieved from

Laor, Y. (2013) Cultural uniformity and religion. Religion, Brain & Behavior, 3:3, 233-253, DOI: 10.1080/2153599X.2012.739409

Laurence, J. (2011). The Effect of Ethnic Diversity and Community Disadvantage on Social Cohesion: A Multi-Level Analysis of Social Capital and Interethnic Relations in UK Communities, European Sociological Review, 27(1), 70–89.

Laurence, J. & Bentley, L. (2016). Does Ethnic Diversity Have a Negative Effect on Attitudes towards the Community? A Longitudinal Analysis of the Causal Claims within the Ethnic Diversity and Social Cohesion Debate, European Sociological Review, 32(1), 54–67.

Major,B., Blodorn, A., & Blascovich, G. M. (2018). The threat of increasing diversity: Why

many White Americans support Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 21(6), 931–940. DOI:

Skybrary (2013). Managing Socio-Cultural Diversity. Retrieved from

Stolle, D., Soroka, S., & Johnston, R. (2008). When Does Diversity Erode Trust? Neighborhood Diversity, Interpersonal Trust and the Mediating Effect of Social Interactions. Political Studies, 56(1), 57–75.

Storey, S. (2015). The Diversity Deficit. HuffingtonPost. Retrieved from

Yu-Fu Tuan (2018). Cultural Diversity and the Ideal of Progress. Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies 44(2), 3-17. DOI: 10.6240/concentric.lit.201809_44(2).0001

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