SOAN 2290 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Human Capital, Visible Minority, Reverse Discrimination
SchoolUniversity of Guelph
DepartmentSociology and Anthropology
Course CodeSOAN 2290
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Chapter 4: Fleras
Chapter 4: The Ethnicity Experience: Politics, Identity and Power
The Ethnicity Experience: Politics, Identity, and Power
Debate: “How to make society safe for ethnicity, as well as safe from ethnicity (ethnic conflict).”
Causes of ethnic conflict: social identity, territory, natural resources, self-determination, holy places,
economic gains, cultural values, and personal and collective security.
Goal: to deconstruct the “ethnic” in ethnic conflict (a trigger? a cause? a smokescreen?)
Introduction: Global Implosion/Ethnicity Explosion
•- globalization, universalism, “McDonalization”
- mass communication, mass travel, mass consumerism, mass education
•may be related to Globalization in that the pressure of global conformity and standardization could
induce the desire for asserting ethnicity
•politicalization of ethnicity
•the process by which issues are taken out of the personal/private domain and drawn into the public
domain in the competition for valued resources.
•when laws/politics give certain advantages to ethnic groups, it gives more reason for internal
conflict using ethnicity for instrumental gain on resources and advantages they would normally
not have access to as an ethnic minority.
“Ethnification”: the fragmentation of society into smaller ethnic communities.
•“regressive”: creates conflict, leads away from global unity
•“progressive”: provides community of like-minded individuals with commitment and support
Two ethnic patterns in many societies:
Dominant Ethnic Group
•Culture, language, values, and social patterns are privileged as normal and desirable
•Possess the power and resources to establish institutional arrangements and ideological systems
consistent with their interests.
Proliferation of Ethnically Diverse Groups
•Increasingly restive due to their marginal status
•Options are limited, and limiting
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•Constant pressure to conform to prevailing values, norms, and institutions
Ethnicity ( broadly speaking ) : a principle of shared awareness of a people’s ancestral linkages and
recognized commonalities as a basis for community, identity, and activity.
•Embodying a consciousness of being different because of tradition and transmission
•An awareness of differences as socially constructed yet grounded in historical and structural realities
•A recognition that, with ethnicity, people see themselves as different and are seen by others as being
•An acknowledgement of ethnicity as an explanatory variable in securing recognition (identities), rewards
(entitlement), or relationships (engagements)
Ethnic Group: actual communities of people who are socially and culturally distinct, who see themselves
and are seen by others as distinct from other communities, and who are separated from others because of
ancestries and boundaries.
Ethnic Minority: a group of culturally distinct people who occupy (or are seen to occupy) a marginal
status in society, even though they may outnumber those of the dominant sector.
•People have turned to ethnicity as means of protecting their immediate interests, especially when central
authorities are unable to (or unwilling to) regulate control
•Why do people hold their ethnicity so strong?
•Ethnicity is an extension of powerful and immutable instincts
•Being with your “own kind”
•Explains the intensity of emotion and passion when ethnicity is involved
•Biological theories (transmission of “pure” genes)
•Creation of ethnicity through meaningful interaction ethnicity is not a natural feature of society, but a
constructed response to material exclusion, a search for social meaning, a quest for identity, and a
struggle for creating culturally safe spaces
•Identity Thesis – ethnicity persists because it provides a coping mechanism for addressing the
globalizing demands of contemporary urban society
•Views ethnicity as a resource for pursuit of diverse goals
•Elite (upper class) competition for scarce resources by manipulating ethnic symbols to secure mass
•Resource Mobilization Theory – large-scale social movements possess the human resources and critical
mass to compete effectively at a national level by influencing central policy structures
Expressing Ethnicity: 3 Levels
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