Approaches To Understanding Ethnicity – Sociology Notes – For W.B.C.S. Examination.
Different approaches have been used by different social scientists to attempt to understand the nature of ethnicity as a factor in human life and society. Examples of such approaches include primordialism, perennialism, constructivism, modernism, and instrumentalism.Continue Reading Approaches To Understanding Ethnicity – Sociology Notes – For W.B.C.S. Examination.
- Primordialism holds that ethnicity has existed at all times of human history and that modern ethnic groups have historical roots far into the past. According to this framework, the idea of ethnicity is closely linked to the idea of nations and is rooted in the pre-Weber understanding of humanity as being divided into primordially existing groups rooted by kinship and biological heritage.
- Perennialism holds that ethnicity is ever changing and that while the concept of ethnicity has existed at all times, ethnic groups are generally short lived before the ethnic boundaries realign in new patterns.
- Constructivism sees both primordialist and perennialist views as basically flawed and holds that ethnic groups are only products of human social interaction, maintained only in so far as they are maintained as valid social constructs in societies.
Ethnicity and Race
Ethnicity, while related to race, refers not to physical characteristics but social traits that are shared by a human population. Some of the social traits often used for ethnic classification include nationality, religious faith and a shared language and culture.
Like race, the term ethnicity is difficult to describe and its meaning has changed over time. And like race, individuals may be identified or self-identify to ethnicities in complex, even contradictory, ways. For example, ethnic groups such as Irish, Italian American, Russian, Jewish, and Serbian might all be groups whose members are predominantly included in the racial category “white. ” Conversely, the ethnic group British includes citizens from a multiplicity of racial backgrounds: black, white, Asian, and more, plus a variety of racial combinations. These examples illustrate the complexity and overlap of these identifying terms. Ethnicity, like race, continues to be an identification method that individuals and institutions use today—whether through the census, affirmative action initiatives, non-discrimination laws, or simply in personal day-to-day relations.
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