When comes to talking about diversity in a society, people often use two terms — multiculturalism and melting pot. Often these two terms are used interchangeably, but their meanings are different. The key difference multiculturalism and melting pot is the outlook whether different cultural groups in a society should be allowed to flourish or whether the society should one culture.
Let us take the meaning of melting pot first. In this concept, the different cultures blend together to form a unique culture that is primarily based on the dominant culture present in the society. This is not a concept that is viewed very favorably by critics as they believe this concept does not tolerate different cultures and lays too much stress on maintaining the dominant culture. On the other hand, proponents of this concept feel that by allowing different cultures to flourish, it will foster separation and division in the society.
However, the latter view of melting pot is not accepted by all. Some feel that a society should have numerous cultures. This is what is known as multiculturalism. Some historians and social scientists view multiculturalism as something positive for the society. However, it can be said that both melting pot and multiculturalism are not perfect models of diversity, and the effect a model has on a society is dependent on the legislation or lack of legislation in a country.
Some western countries like the US initially had the attitude when it came to diversity in the society. However, they started changing their attitude to multiculturalism some time in the 1980s. The main reason for this was the tension that was prevalent between the dominant culture and other cultures.