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Rethinking Diversity:

Cognitive Diversity& Value Systems

Cognitive diversity / diversity of thought and/or values diversity present alternative type (deep-level) of diversity". Her conception of traditional diversity aligns with prevailing diversity literature that predominantly focusses on surface-level diversity (such as gender, race and nationality). From a socio-historical context the fascination with these markers is understandable since they have been the source of most strive, prejudice and discrimination within organisations and society. The above preoccupation has however resulted in conceptions of diversity that are focussed on surface structures, identity politics and shallow appearances of modern-day differentiation dynamics.


The attention to cognitive diversity / diversity of thought and/or values diversity have recently emerged as a focus area that moves beyond surface-level diversity (such as gender, race and nationality). It could be argued that the emergence of deep-level cognitive and values diversity, signal a shift towards a more functional approach to diversity … an idea deeply embedded in the ‘value in diversity’ stance. The Gravesian framework aligns with this emergent approach that utilises a more functional lens in exploring humanity’s emergence. 



The Gravesian literature explains how people gravitate around values, outlooks and world view. Beck et al. (2018) argue that the Spiral Dynamics framework provides a “master code” that enables a better grasp of the dynamics behind local/international relations, politics, conflicts and warfare. Rabbi Anton Klein (as cited in Becket al., 2018), endorses this opinion by stating that the Spiral Dynamic lens provides an infinitely fuller understanding of the hidden dimensions, deep structures and undercurrents that inform the thought and practice towards phenomenon such as. The profound insight provided by this framework can be used, as in the South African case, to create understanding, resolve severe conflict, and bring together conflictual parties.


The rise of cognitive and value diversity as emergent diversity focus areas might be aligned to the broader shift towards a post-race (post-diversity) society where race-conscious admissions are no longer desirable or sought. The growing suspicion of diversity in the post-multiculturalism era, could be part of the inclination to identify diversity in terms of functional categories rather that primary categories such as race and gender. It must, however, be noted that while the idea of post-racialism has gained ground, there are also vehement scholarly criticism against this stance.