Ethnic Processes

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ethnic Processes


the processes by which ethnic communities undergo change.

A distinction is made between processes of ethnic evolution and processes of ethnic transformation. The former, which are due to the socioeconomic development of ethnic communities and to the communities’ contacts with other peoples, lead primarily to change in the elements of culture and everyday life. Processes of ethnic transformation are caused by the interaction of ethnic communities, or particular segments of ethnic communities, and lead to changes in an ethnic community’s sense of identity, to the inclusion of groups of people in other ethnic communities, and, frequently, to the disappearance of some ethnic communities and the appearance of others.

The processes of ethnic transformation include consolidation and interethnic integration. Consolidation is the merging of individual peoples or segments thereof to form larger communities, as when tribes merge to form a nationality. Interethnic integration develops within multinational states and brings the peoples inhabiting them closer together, resulting in the formation of supraethnic communities. An important stage in the development of interethnic processes in the USSR is the formation of a new historical community, the Soviet people.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Zgusta reconstructs the cultural and ethnic processes in Northeast Asia by focusing on eight ethnic groups that inhabit the vast coastal region.
Among the encounters between the people he describes are cultural contestation, differential incorporation into the Ethiopian state, and the civil war in the Sudan and the ethnic processes in the Gambella region.
Cornell, Stephen (1996): "The variable ties that bind: content and circumstances in ethnic processes," Ethnic and Racial Studies 19/2, April, pp.265-288.
But is this critical assumption, which underlies many recent theoretical approaches to studies of ethnic processes, borne out?
The rich detail about the particular landsmanshaftn combined with the implications for broader ethnic processes make Jewish Immigrant Associations and American Identity in New York, 1880-1939 a worthy recipient of its two prestigious awards: the Thomas J.
The view of actors as optimizing agents constituted, for many years, a principal basis for understanding ethnic processes, particularly in response to the failed predictions of modernization theorists.
In both accounts, ethnicity is treated largely as if it were epiphenomenal to social, political, or economic factors and therefore, paradoxically, exogenous to ethnic processes. This critique raises an important problem: Approaches that rely largely on external factors ignore the "sentiments and experiences" of ethnicity and thereby "allow sociologists either to neglect or to dismiss the understandings and interpretations of ethnic actors" (Cornell and Hartmann 1998: 66; see also Eriksen 1991; Eller and Coughlin 1993; Tilly 1997; Gil-White 1999; Malegid 2002).
Since the relationship between interests and identification is commonly linked in a causal chain to group solidarity, mobilization, and even conflict, a deeper knowledge of these conditions is fundamental to understanding the contingent nature of a wide range of ethnic processes.
The present research contributes to understanding these issues by examining a core instrumentalist assumption that underlies many theoretical perspectives in the study of ethnic processes. This assumption is that the more individuals perceive economic advantages to ethnic group membership, the more they will identify with that ethnic group.
Although geographically remote from the West (about 500 miles east of Madagascar), the island of Mauritius is considered to be a "laboratory of diversity" that can "profoundly" deepen our understanding of ethnic processes (Eriksen 1998: ix).
Instrumentalist approaches to ethnicity are widely criticized for giving undue analytic priority to material interests when examining ethnic processes. Despite the prevalence of these critiques, instrumentalist assumptions continue to influence theoretical and empirical developments in the field.
While such studies may advance our limited understanding of the effects of ethnic-based instrumentalism on identification, the results of this study have a number of implications for understanding ethnic processes, particularly when these processes are examined in relation to ethnic competition.