Politically Correct Culture

Political correctness involves the use of language and adoption of measures and policies that aim to avoid and discourage discrimination, prejudice, and intolerance for members of vulnerable minorities. Markers that distinguish members of minorities include culture, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, and nationality. While proponents argue that political correctness helps make societies more inclusive, opponents counter by pointing out that the adoption of certain policies and language can influence outcomes, including in the realm of politics. So, has politically correct culture gone amok in Canada?

How It Shapes Behavior

Imagine a white male supervisor who is concerned that he will look as a racist and sexist if he was to give a negative feedback to an Indigenous female employee. Or if a Latino lawyer didn’t get that promotion and believes that he was discriminated against because of his ethnicity. This happens all the time in culturally-diverse societies like Canada’s where people of different ethnic minorities, races, religions, and genders coexist, meet, and interact. And while the goal is to eradicate inequality and bias and achieve social inclusion and cohesion, many feel judged for what they say or believe even when it is mundane issues. Then they feel resentment and anger for the fact that their voices have been silenced. Tension between members of majority and minority groups increases which can be hard to unpack.

How PC Shapes Restrictive Societies

Political correctness is about respect for minority groups that are victims of unfair stereotyping and sexism, racism, ableism, or classism. True, many of the greatest wrongs against humanity are rooted in discrimination and prejudice, including oppression and genocide. At the same time, respect for different cultures cannot be mandated or forced onto people. This is how restrictive societies are formed where tolerance for deviance or difference is low or lacking. Tight or restrictive societies are quick to impose strict norms for what is right and wrong, thus effectively suppressing freedom of expression, thought, and belief.

What Researchers Say

Extensive research has been carried out on restrictive and permissive societies and the associated psychological outcomes. The conclusion that academics reach is that in both restrictive and permissive cultures, there is a higher risk for political instability and unrest and slow economic growth. Mortality rates from chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease are also higher, and more people commit suicide or exhibit suicidal behavior. The incidence of persistent depressive disorder or dysthymia is also higher compared to more moderate cultures. What researchers argue is that nations should strive to achieve a balance between rights and freedoms and restraint. Rights and freedoms are, in fact, absence of restraint. In academic circles, the debate on the most effective form of social organization has been going on for quite some time. Advocates of individual autonomy insist that freedom from constraint allows individuals to reach their full potential and societies to use this collective potential to effectively pursue progress. Opponents, on the other hand, point to the fact that restraint or rules and regulations are the key to ensuring that societies are stable and secure. A third group calls for moderation, arguing that both excessive coercion and unlimited freedoms are counterproductive. The first may lead to oppression and the second – to a state of lawlessness.

Politically Correct Culture
Scroll to top