The pluralism is a concept that has philosophical, religious, socio – cultural, legal and even educational meanings. Whatever the case, they all refer to the acceptance and recognition of different realities, beliefs or thoughts. Throughout the article we are going to go into detail about each of the meanings of pluralism and we will see the importance it can have.

What is pluralism?

The plurality is the existence of multiple number of realities and their acceptance and tolerance. For pluralism there is no one reality that is better than another and all of them can be valid to achieve the same end.

  • Meaning of pluralism
  • Characteristics
  • Story
  • Types of pluralism
  • In the media
  • Examples

Meaning of pluralism

It is a term related to tolerance that is applicable fields of society. Pluralism means recognizing diversity and this can be of many types. Thus we can have racial, cultural or political pluralism.



The main characteristics of pluralism are the following:

  • Related to diversity .
  • It implies the acceptance of opposing ideas or positions.
  • The tolerance is essential for the plurality occurs.
  • It occurs in very diverse fields such as politics, religion or education.
  • The origin of the term occurs in Ancient Greece.


Pluralism emerged around the 5th century BC as a philosophical current at the hands of pre-Socratic philosophers such as  Democritus ,  Empedocles  and Anaxagoras . This current was moving away from the old monistic conception that considered that water was the element of which all things were composed. For the pluralists this was not the case, and while Empedocles defended that it was not a single element but four, Democritus bet because everything was made up of different substances which he called atoms and finally AnaxagorasHe expanded Democritus’ theory by stating that they were actually a large multitude of particles.

Apart from these pre-Socratic philosophers, we must highlight the role that Leibniz played in the development of this current thanks to the publication of his  Monadology  during the first half of the 18th century.

Types of pluralism

Next we are going to review the different types of pluralism :

Philosophical pluralism

In contrast to monism , philosophical pluralism arises . This current defends the existence of more than one reality, which may or may not be interrelated. Within this type we must differentiate:

  • Ontological pluralism: it is one that conceives three different worlds or realities. On the one hand we have the physical world, on the other the mental world and finally the intelligible world, the first being directly related to the second and the second to the third. So the first and the third are related through the second.
  • Axiological pluralism: it does not speak of realities but of the value of things or elements. Contrary to the monism that defends that there is only one element with value, in this case there are multiple elements that can have some type of value which can be positive or negative.

Social pluralism

It refers to the different social groups that coexist in a region or geographic area . This type would also include racial pluralism that defends peaceful coexistence between different ethnic groups .

Political pluralism

It is an ideological principle proposed by Robert Dahl . He considers that in society there are different social groups with their own ideology, values ​​and interests that may not be shared by others but accepted. This is something that many see as a weakness but that in their opinion represents a great strength, because thanks to consensus and the distribution of power in different centers, politics can make everyone feel integrated.

Within political pluralism we must differentiate:

  • Polarized pluralism: it is characterized by the fact that the different ideologies are grouped into two large blocks commonly called left and right . Unfortunately, when the so-called polarized pluralism occurs, in reality, the opinions of different social groups are not tolerated and it is not a question of reaching a general consensus . It is only done with those groups with similar ideologies.
  • Pluralist democracy: it is typical of modern democracies where power is distributed in different centers.

Cultural pluralism

The cultural pluralism is the one that occurs in a country or region where there is a dominant culture while other cultures own small social groups exist , all of which are accepted by the whole society. It should be noted that the values ​​and practices of each one must be aligned with the laws of the region.

By the way, it should not be confused with  multiculturalism , the difference between the two concepts is that cultural pluralism requires the existence of a dominant culture.

Religious pluralism

It is based on the different religions being able to coexist with each other while respecting each other. In addition, it is accepted that all of them present an equally valid path to achieve salvation. Finally, religious pluralism rejects the imposition of a religion as well as the act of trying to make minority religions disappear.

Legal pluralism

The legal pluralism is one that occurs in those states where different legal orders coexist and do so in a climate of harmony, all working in a coordinated manner and being respected by the whole population.

This type usually occurs in countries where indigenous communities continue to exist. An example of this is Bolivia , a country in which state law coexists with indigenous law.

Educational pluralism

It can be defined as the coexistence in the same country of several educational models . This allows educational freedom to be given and, therefore, the children’s parents can choose the educational model that best suits their morality.

Within educational pluralism we must refer to finalistic pluralism , which consists of establishing multiple ends or objectives considered truly valuable.

Moral pluralism

Also known as pluralism of values , it indicates that there are pairs of values ​​that despite being in opposition are considered acceptable by the whole society . In addition, it indicates that these values ​​cannot be measured so it cannot be established if one value would be better than another.

In the media

This occurs when audiovisual communication is carried out in a varied number of communication media that, being public or private, represent the values ​​and ideals of the different social groups in a region.

On the other hand, a particular communication medium will be pluralistic when it has an inclusive program that reflects the concerns of the entire society.


Some examples of pluralism are:

  • Canada is a clear example of racial pluralism , as people of very different ethnicities coexist peacefully in that country.
  • In Ecuador, the right of indigenous communities is recognized, so two different legal frameworks coexist.
  • Spain is generally a Catholic country but that does not prevent other religions from coexisting in the country without any being imposed.

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