The last two decades have been rich in events related to inclusivity. More broadly, inclusivity can be defined as “the fact of including all types of people, things or ideas and treating them all fairly and equally” (Cambridge Dictionary). Social movements take an important place in the world — and even as this text is written — continue to do so. Both the fight for human rights and social justice are ubiquitous, contributing to changing society for the better. The following theme page aims to provide a better understanding of what is at stake in an inclusive 21st century world.

An explanation of Human Rights, and how they exist in society

globalisation & human rights

Globalisation has both enhanced individuals’ commitment towards the plight for human rights, and implicated people harmfully over the past two decades.


The process of decolonisation has continued into the 21st century; it has brought forth new structures which have been adapted to both the present-day, and to its challenges.

cultural change

During the past two decades, cultural change has applied to more subjects (like religion or social expectations). These changes, owing to technological advances amongst other factors, have become more global.

globalisation and human rights

Conceptualised illustrations of ‘Globalisation and Human Rights’ by Carlos Aceña Moreno

Firstly, globalisation has allowed for both the integration of civil society across borders, and for the enhancement of collective action against the violation of human rights (Arfat, 2013, p. 18). Based on Amnesty International’s report, millions of humans do not have access to their fundamental rights (Arfat, 2013, p.18). While people around the world have become more supportive of the global issues impacting humans, globalisation has also facilitated further exploitation of people from poorer regions (Arfat, 2013, p. 18). In the 21st century, many humanitarian events have taken place. With governmental exploitation came the migration crisis. This spanned from a microscopic example of the US “Minutemen Civil Defense Corps” enforcing borders between US and Mexico in 2005, (Cisneros, 2013) to the recurrent migration waves in Europe (Donnan et al., 2016). Such exploitation further instigated the distinction between “the East” and “the West.”

Moreover, economically, capitalism has initiated the development of global conglomerates; these conglomerates profit from exploiting poorer people under harsh working conditions for their daily income. One example is the treatment of the Amazon workers. Employees are neglected by being underpaid or overworked; in some instances, they are not even given the time for a bathroom break (Kelly, 2021). We wanted to illustrate these cases as ‘inclusivity’ requires us to understand what is happening to people globally, and the ways in which we can help without discriminating against any community. On a lighter note, some minority groups have become more active participants in society. For instance, with greater accessibility to technology, people with disabilities have found ways to become part of the digital art sphere and vocalize their experiences (Verrent, 2019). It is key to remember that social acceptance and empathy towards others can create positive changes.

A representation on the global awareness of human crises

New technologies enable previously excluded populations to participate in the creation of art. This object was designed by Elmer, who is paralysed. Through technology, he is still able to create digital art.

Anna’s experience of Elmer’s digital art

The brick represents the upsurge in the construction of walls as part of inter-state borders in response to the “fear of the outsider” and anti-immigration sentiment. The attitudes were catalysed by 9/11.

Adrianna speaks of the symbolic significance of a brick in the time of migration crises

Amazon workers are facing a work situation that violates their rights. They are underpaid and have a huge workload, without proper breaks.

Bjorn speaks about Amazon’s recent retail changes


Conceptualised illustrations of ‘Decolonisation’ by Carlos Aceña Moreno
Decolonizing Hair: a movement that has allowed black individuals to stand up for their natural beauty that was otherwise regarded as uncivilized


There is a unique relationship between decolonisation and colonialism. One of the main reasons for colonisation is racial differences; the process of colonisation, therefore, incited more intense racism. Author Razack (2008, p.96) explains “race thinking” in the phrase ‘they are not like us.’” The story in the novel Noughts and Crosses describes an alternative 21st century Britain in which segregation is enforced by black people towards white people. It addresses the problem of racism — a still very present subject in contemporary society. Through this book, the author aims to address racism in an unexpected way; she challenges existing racial assumptions to eradicate racial bias and embrace racial diversity.

Colonisation and decolonisation are part of both a social and a political process (Laenui, 2000). Decolonisation, particularly, has become one of the most important political developments in the 20th century (Duara, 2004). In the process of decolonisation, there are a series of remarkable signs. For example, moments of decolonisation were often recorded and accompanied by ceremonies as signals, such as the change of political and military guards (Hopkins, 2008). The process of decolonisation continues in the 21st century, but it is no longer manifested as the change of guards, or the birth of a national anthem for a new country, as in the 20th century. Rather, it exists in the awakening of ethnic or national awareness and in the embracing of different colours and backgrounds. In 2020, the art supplies company, Crayola released their new product ‘Colours of the World.’ This box of crayons was designed to reflect a range of skin tones because in the past, only the peach-coloured crayon was labelled ‘flesh;’ ‘Whiteness’ was universalized as the skin tone of choice (Roth, 2009).

The book describes an alternative 21st century Britain in which segregation is enforced by black people towards white people. Noughts & Crosses addresses the issue of racism.

Noah’s experience of reading ‘Noughts and Crosses’

With the aim to foster a greater sense of inclusivity, Crayola released a box of crayons designed to reflect a range of skin tones.

Mariam speaks of the representational power of Crayola’s new crayons

cultural change

Conceptualised illustrations of ‘Culture Change’ by Carlos Aceña Moreno

What causes cultural change? At its core, culture refers to “a way of life” — how individuals think and act in the world (PsychExamReview, 2018). As culture shapes behaviors, people are shaped by cultural practices (Idealog, 2019). So, cultural shifts reflect any changes in these societal practices and belief systems (Idealog, 2019). Individuals react to the cultural happenings of world, and with the wish for change, can affect significant transformation (Idealog, 2019). These shifts may speak to changing gender roles, or attitudes around religion or race. In some instances, they can stand against historical imbalances of power. During the past two decades we have observed shifts in the communication of social issues, and in the public’s response to these issues. Though culture changes naturally, we may attribute some of these 21st century shifts to globalisation, technological developments, and the resulting increased flow of information (Aisyahhumayra Humayra, 2017). These phenomena amplify the voices of previously marginalized communities and make public debate more accessible.

The rise in body hair awareness has graced our Instagram feeds (Savini, 2018), while skateboarding, previously defined as a “counterculture,” has been included as an Olympic sport (MacIntosh, 2021). Despite the potential for positive transformation, cultural shifts may implicate societies in equally devastating ways. The 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre, perhaps one of the most significant events of this century, fostered a culture of religious animosity towards individuals of the Islamic faith (Esposito & Kalin, 2011). Over the years, media publications have shed light on further attacks against Muslims, and their institutions (p.249). However, cultures change continuously (EatMyNews, 2020), and in the face of intolerance, can incite social defiance. During the 21st century, individuals have articulated their views against religious prejudices. They have stood against Islamophobia, and through global, digital influences, have created networks of defiance (European Network Against Racism, 2022).

A look at people reflecting how they are perceived based on their culture

While razors are still an everyday object, there has been a move in the 21st Century towards the reacceptance of a woman’s natural body hair.

Clara speaks of her experience with body hair

Known as “Sajjadat Salat” in Arabic, a prayer rug serves as a clean surface that muslims pray on. It has a great significance in the 21st century during which Islamophobia is taking up evemore space.

Ambar speaks of her connection to her prayer mat, and the symbolic meaning it holds

Buddhism has exerted great influence on Asian culture. For example, Hindus were originally meat eaters, but became vegetarians due to the influence of Buddhism. It enriches India’s religion, art, sculpture, language and literature.

Jiaying shares her knowledge of Buddhism

The skateboard has entered the 21st century as a beacon of culture, allowing skaters to set foothold in the world of sports. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics marked the introduction of skateboarding into the ultimate realm of competition.

Nino’s story of his skateboard, and his connection to the sport


Aisyahhumayra Humayra, (2017, July 25). CULTURAL CHANGE. [Video file].

Arfat, S. (2013). Globalisation and human rights: An overview of its impact. American journal of humanities and social sciences, 1(1), 18-24.

Cisneros, J. D. (2014). The border crossed us: Rhetorics of borders, citizenship, and Latina/o identity. University of Alabama Press.

Donnan, H., Hurd, M., & Leutloff-Grandits, C. (2016). Migrating borders and moving times: Temporality and the crossing of borders in Europe. Manchester University Press.

Duara, P. (2004). Decolonization: Perspectives from now and then. Routledge.

EatMyNews. (2020, March 09). Cultural Transformation in the 21st Century.

Esposito, J & Kalin, I. (2012). Islamophobia:  The challenges of pluralism in the 21st century. Intellectual Discourse, 20(2), 249-260.

European Network Against Racism. (2022). The voice of the anti-racist movement in Europe.

Hopkins, A. G. (2008). Rethinking decolonization. Past & Present, 200(1), 211-247.

Idealog, (2019). Cultural shifts: How the world is shifting from wanting economic growth, to audacious change.

Kelly, J. (2021, October 25). A hard-hitting investigative report into Amazon shows that workers’ needs were neglected in favor of getting goods delivered quickly. Forbes.

Laenui, P. (2000). Processes of decolonization. Reclaiming Indigenous voice and vision, 150-160.

MacIntosh, R. (2021). From outlier to Olympic sport: How skateboarding made it to the Tokyo Games. The Conversation.

PsychExamReview, (2018 March 13). Culture & Cultural Dimensions (Intro Psych Tutorial #187) [Video file].

Razack, S. (2008). Casting out: The eviction of Muslims from Western law and politics. University of Toronto Press.

Roth, L. (2009). Home on the Range: Kids, Visual Culture, and Cognitive Equity. Cultural Studies, Critical Methodologies 9(2), 141-148. 

Savini, L. (2018). A Retrospective Look at Women’s Body Hair in Pop Culture. Allure.

Verrent, J. (2019, February 5). Disability, digital, and disruption. Immerse.