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Chapter 4

SOAN 2290 Chapter Notes - Chapter 4: Human Capital, Visible Minority, Reverse Discrimination


Department
Sociology and Anthropology
Course Code
SOAN 2290
Professor
Cecil Foster
Chapter
4

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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
Global Implosion:
- globalization, universalism, “McDonalization”
- mass communication, mass travel, mass consumerism, mass education
Ethnicity Explosion:
may be related to Globalization in that the pressure of global conformity and standardization could
induce the desire for asserting ethnicity
politicalization of ethnicity
Politicalization:
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.
Ethnic Experiences:
regressive”: creates conflict, leads away from global unity
progressive”: provides community of like-minded individuals with commitment and support
Defining Ethnicity
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.
Ethnicity includes:
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
different
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.
Why Ethnicity?
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?
Explanations
Primordial Explanation
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)
Constructivist Explanation
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
Instrumental Explanation
Views ethnicity as a resource for pursuit of diverse goals
Elite (upper class) competition for scarce resources by manipulating ethnic symbols to secure mass
support
Resource Mobilization Theorylarge-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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