According to an article published in the online version of Croatian daily newspaper ‘Večernji list’, titled “List of the most tolerant countries in the world has been published. Where is Croatia?”, the country is very highly ranked. However, the study quoted in the article uses the world “inclusiveness” and does not mention “tolerance” anywhere. Therefore, we decided to check if the translation and the interpretation used in the headline of this article was rightful and accurate.
The article in ‘Večernji list’ begins by saying that the results of a study conducted by The Institute of Othering and Belonging are sensational for Croatia. According to the annual 2019 Inclusiveness Index Report among 132 countries of the world, Croatia ranks high at the 13th place. Inclusiveness index helps to identify places and societies that are in the process of improving their inclusiveness towards marginalized groups. Also, the index shows societies that are seeing an increase in social divide.
Specifically, the Institute in the mentioned report describes inclusivity as access to power, both public and private, but also ways of including marginalized members of society. This inclusivity is achieved and rated high when marginalized groups feel valued, when differences are respected, and when basic needs and rights, relative to those dominant groups of society, are recognized.
However, the Institute is aware that this approach cannot fully explain qualitative aspects of inclusivity. Therefore each version of the inclusivity index offers backgrounds and stories that go beyond rough statistics.
Given the perceived problem of identifying the notion of inclusion and inclusivity in the media transmission of the results of this research, we wanted to check the validity of journalists understanding that inclusiveness is the same as tolerance.
The official Cambridge English Dictionary defines the word inclusivity as “the quality of trying to include many different types of people and treat them all fairly and equally.” In the Croatian language, this word is only mentioned in the context of social inclusion, although the term as such is not yet included in Croatian dictionaries. However, in Vladimir Anić’s Croatian dictionary, the term ‘include’ is defined as giving the right to participate in something.
Social inclusion in the Croatian language has been defined solely by the notion of social exclusion in the Croatian Encyclopedia of the Lexicographic Institute Miroslav Krleža. The encyclopedia offers the definition of social exclusion as “incomplete access to civil status rights, which are an important precondition for securing health care, primary education, material standard, etc.”. In this sense, the term social inclusion is defined as ‘a process that provides socially excluded persons with the opportunity to participate in social, economic, cultural and political life and to enjoy standard of living that is considered as satisfying in the society that they live in.”
Tolerance versus inclusivity
The notion of tolerance, unlike the notion of social inclusion, found its place in Vladimir Anić’s Croatian dictionary as: “a relationship that fully embraces another, different customs, beliefs and opinions”.
The Croatian encyclopedia offers the definition of tolerance as “a general or specific attitude of nor prohibiting, preventing, and obstructing others in their conduct or activities in an area, despite the disapproval of those in power or authority in the area”. The Croatian encyclopedia also emphasizes that tolerance is often interpreted as indifference that “does not imply the validation of permissible or impermissible behavior, and therefore leads to passivity”. Tolerance is, on the contrary, an active relationship, which means that it implies active restraint.
Encyclopedia also describes how tolerance implies inequality in the distribution of power in a society where a certain group of people always possesses more power than the others. In that view, tolerant is an individual who “has the power, in an opinion or action different from his own, by his own free decision to waive the use of force or authority against such an opinion or action”.
Therefore, in a society where there have always been marginalized and discriminated groups, tolerance is the first step towards the social inclusion of these same groups in society, ensuring everyone equal access to employment and education. For this reason, inclusivity is connected to the concept of tolerance, but it is certainly false to define these two terms as equal. On the one hand, inclusivity is an attempt to treat different individuals equally with the same right of participation and inclusion in society, while tolerance, on the other hand, is the act of acceptance of the other, regardless of social or cultural differences.
Therefore, we assess that the headline of the article citing Croatia as tolerant country is inconsistent with the purpose of the cited research and therefore false. Croatia is not on the list of the most tolerant countries in the world, but is well placed in the list of countries ranked by the degree of inclusivity, that is, inclusiveness.
RESEARCH | ARTICLE © Petra Puček & Tena Senjan, University of Zagreb, Croatia
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