ethnic group

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ethnic group

a group of people sharing an identity which arises from a collective sense of a distinctive history (see also ETHNICITY). Ethnic groups possess their own CULTURE, CUSTOMS, NORMS, beliefs and traditions. There is usually a common LANGUAGE, and boundary maintenance is observed between members and non-members. As well as by birth, ethnic group membership may be acquired through marriage or other socially sanctioned routes.

Whilst socially perceived racial characteristics may be a feature of such groups, ethnic groups are not synonymous with racial groups (see RACE). According to C. Peach et al. (1981), British academic concern with the subject of ethnicity increased as a result of black immigration in the postwar period. Thus, despite the presence of immigrants, refugees and ethnic minorities prior to this period, it was the combination of racial and ethnic distinctiveness which gave rise to both popular and academic interest in the subject. One result of this has been the confusion of the term ‘ethnic minority’ with racial minority, in the UK culture.

The anthropologist, Narroll (1964), stressed the importance of shared cultural values and a group awareness of cultural distinctiveness as key elements in ethnic group membership. Barth (1970) places emphasis on group organization and the maintenance of ethnic boundaries via ETHNIC MARKERS. He suggests that the boundaries between ethnic groups are maintained not through isolation, as Narroll argues, but through social processes of exclusion and incorporation, i.e. ethnic group members identify themselves in terms of ethnic categories and are in turn recognized as members by outsiders. REX (1986), in turn, has criticized Barth for his failure to consider conflict between ethnic groups and for his imprecise use of the term ‘group’. Rex also raises the question, immigrants aside, of the continued saliency of ethnic groupings in complex industrial societies and the utility of the concept as a precise basis of classification.

In societies in turmoil, however, ethnic groupings retain their importance and may be given added salience (or constructed) by political conflict, as in the former Yugoslavia, where the highly charged phrase ‘ethnic cleansing’ has appeared. An important distinction must therefore be drawn between those ethnic groups which consciously seek to assert their ethnicity, and those seen as ethnic minorities by more powerful groups (see also HOLOCAUST, GENOCIDE). In such cases, ethnic characteristics may be exaggerated or created to serve group interests and cohesion as well as to fuel conflict. The reverse side of the coin is when complex symbolic practices may be mobilized not to accentuate boundaries and divisions between groups, but to understate these in order to maximize INTEGRATION or ASSIMILATION. For example, in contemporary Britain, Pakistani Christian refugees may seek to minimize group differences. There are also cases in which ethnic group differences may be formulated in a climate of CULTURAL PLURALISM.

Where ethnicity is the basis for minority status, discriminatory practices against such groups may be legitimated by institutionalized means. As is widely apparent, ethnic minority status often seriously jeopardizes an individual's or group's life chances, particularly in relation to health, housing and employment.

It should also be noted that approaches to social stratification based on economic inequality find it difficult to treat the question of ethnicity adequately. See STATUS CONSISTENCY AND INCONSISTENCY. See also RACISM.

Ethnic Group


(Russian, etnicheskaia gruppa), a community of people that have similar languages and cultures. Examples of an ethnic group are the ancient Slavs and the ancient Germans. Typical ethnic groups today are the Celtic peoples, who no longer speak a common language but have preserved their cultural and ethnographic identity; the Paleoasiatic peoples of the northeastern USSR; the Eskimo of the USSR, Canada, the USA, and Greenland; the American Indians; and the Arabs of Asia and Africa. An ethnic group should be distinguished from an ethnographic group, which is a segment of a people.

References in periodicals archive ?
However, according to Holcomb-McCoy (2005) school counselors have had limited involvement in the development of ethnic identity development for elementary and intermediate students.
The relationship found between ethnic identity and hypermasculinity suggests that Latino men who indicated a greater identification with their ethnicity also tended to endorse some of the negative stereotypes associated with Latino masculinity.
The authors conducted multiple linear regression analyses, specifically hierarchical regression analyses, to see whether specific coping styles or ethnic identity would moderate the relations of culturally related stressors to SWB.
The structure of ethnic identity of young adolescents from diverse ethnocultural groups.
With this understanding of the positive effect of Blacks viewing ads featuring Black models, the primary concern of this study will be to examine the role that the skin tone, an under-examined variable of race, of Black models in American advertisements targeting African American consumers has on a few key marketing communication goals, specifically taking note of the consumer's level of ethnic identity.
In the United States, ethnic identity can be practiced by the dominant white group only on special occasions, such as during holiday celebrations, by preparing ethnic food or using heritage languages for entertainment purposes (Waters 1990).
Given this evidence, one might expect ethnic identity to influence the relationship between cultural appeals and multitasking as well.
We explore whether Hispanics with a strong ethnic identity will be less willing to relocate.
This entails that the use of indigenous expressions, in this case loaning, in the writings of "minority" Nigerian novelists is a linguistic practice motivated by the need to project their ethnic identity in a country where three ethnic groups, the Yoruba, the Igbo and the Hausa are considered "major" ethnic groups over approximately 400 ethnic groups.
The semi-structured interviews were conducted using a protocol that asked major questions about ethnic identity conceptualization (e.
This means that while smaller scale identities continue to exist, the word qawm increasingly refers to a trans-local ethnic identity.
Ethnic identity is also reported to have an influence on the career development process.

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