SOC210 Oct 12.doc

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19 Apr 2012
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Lecture #5 - Ethnic Boundaries
October-12-11
4:13 PM
Ethnic Boundaries
Have become an important and commonly used approach to understanding:
oGroup relations
oEconomic well-being of racial and ethnic minorities
From Durkheim in his classic discussion of the sacred and profane in the
Elementary Form of Religions, to Barth's ethnographic work on how groups
maintain boundaries while sharing a similar culture, the concept has been well
grounded in the social science literature
Two Approaches:
oFirst approach
Racial and ethnic identity
The process of "boundary making" in racial and ethnic identity
Blurring, shifting and crossing
oSecond Approach
The social dimension of group boundaries in specific contexts
"social boundaries interrupt, divide, circumscribe, or segregate
distributions of population or activities within social fields. Such fields
certainly include spatial distributions of population or activities within
social fields. Such fields certainly include spatial distributions of
population or activities..." (Tilly)
Different levels of social enclosure and the "porousness" of
boundaries
How different levels of enclosure affect the social and economic
outcomes of groups
Factors that affect ethnic boundaries
oHuman Ecological Approach
1. Segregation: "the state of being separate or set apart from
other ethnic groups by social norms or physical geographical barriers"
Involuntary: result of pressure placed upon the subordinate
group
Voluntary: decision of the subordinate group
oEthnic group wants to maintain social and economic
stability
Social: exclusive social network
Physical: geographical concentration
oComments:
Physical segregation usually leads to social
segregation, whereas social segregation many not lead
to physical segregation
Paradox: Segregation - main group's identity and
boundaries, marginalized linkage with the society
2. Interdependence
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