Ethnic group

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The term "Ethnicity" redirects here. For the live album and video of the same name by Yanni, please see Ethnicity (Yanni album)

An ethnic group is a human population whose members identify with each other, usually on the basis of a presumed common genealogy or ancestry (Smith, 1986). Recognition by others as a separate ethnic group, and a specific name for the group, also contribute to defining it. Ethnic groups are also usually united by certain common cultural, behavioural, linguistic, or religious practices and traits. In this sense, an ethnic group is also a cultural community.

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[edit] Types of ethnic group

Members of an ethnic group generally claim a strong cultural continuity over time, although some historians and anthropologists have documented that many of the cultural practices on which various ethnic groups are based are of recent invention (Friedlander 1975, Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983, Sider 1993). On the political front, an ethnic group is distinguished from a nation-state by the former's lack of sovereignty.

While ethnicity and race are related concepts (Abizadeh 2001), the concept of ethnicity is rooted in the idea of social groups, marked especially by shared nationality, tribal affiliation, genealogy, religious faith, language, or cultural and traditional origins, whereas race is rooted in the idea of a biological classification of Homo sapiens according to chosen genotypic and/or phenotypic traits, and a belief that such differences among human beings are of such a magnitude as to be classified by the anthropological sense of "race", i.e. subspecies.

[edit] In the United States

Collectivities of related ethnic groups are typically denoted as "ethnic". Most prominently in the US, the various Latin American ethnic groups plus the Spanish are typically collectivized as "Hispanics". The many Asian ethnic groups are similarly lumped together as "Asians". So too with the many indigenous American groups. The terms "Black" and "African American," while different, usually describe the descendants whose ancestors, usually in predominant part, were indigenous to Africa. Even the racial term "White American" is typically used in an ethnic sense, lumping all the various European, Middle Eastern, and North African groups together. There has been controversy over the inclusion of various groups from the Middle East, such as Iranians, who are not "Asian" in the sense of people from East Asia or South Asia, as White. The additional factor of intermarriage and multiethnic ancestry further complicates the picture.

Categories and data on "Ancestry" in the US are compiled on the following criteria from the Census Bureau: "Ancestry refers to a person’s ethnic origin or descent, 'roots', or heritage, or the place of birth of the person or the person’s parents or ancestors before their arrival in the United States." The ancestry questionnaire is only available on a random basis to one out of six households during the census.

[edit] In the United Kingdom

The classification of ethnic groups used during the United Kingdom Census 2001 are described on the National Statistics website.[1]

UK police began to classify arrests in racial groups in 1975, but later replaced the race code with an Identity Code (IC) system.[2]:

  • IC1 White person
  • IC2 Mediterranean or Hispanic person
  • IC3 African/Caribbean person
  • IC4 Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, or any other Asian person
  • IC5 Chinese, Japanese, or South-East Asian person
  • IC6 Arabic, Egyptian or Maghreb person
  • IC0 Origin unknown

This classification is still referred to on some police websites and police chase TV shows, e.g. "Driver is IC1 male, passenger is IC3 male".[3]

However, from April 1, 2003, all police forces were required to use the new 16 + 1 system (based on the Census classification system described above). In this system there are 16 ethnic codes, "+1" for "Not stated" when an "individual chooses not to acknowledge their ethnic background. If this is the case the officer will assume their ethnicity and record this instead.[4]

  • W1 White British
  • W2 White Irish
  • W9 Any other white background
  • M1 Mixed White and Black Caribbean
  • M2 Mixed White and Black African
  • M3 Mixed White and Asian
  • M9 Any other mixed background
  • A1 Asian - Indian
  • A2 Asian - Pakistani
  • A3 Asian - Bangladeshi
  • A9 Any other Asian background
  • B1 Caribbean
  • B2 African
  • B9 Any other black background
  • O1 Chinese
  • O9 Any other ethnic group
  • NS Not stated

[edit] In China

The People's Republic of China has officially split the population into 56 ethnic groups of which the most numerous are the Han Chinese. Many of the ethnic minorities maintain their own individual culture and language, although many are also becoming more like the Han. The Han Chinese are the only ethnic group bound by the One-child policy and many villages faked a change in their ethnic group (e.g. from Han to Manchu) to avoid the policy.

Some of the minorities suffered during the Cultural Revolution. Many minority cultures remain under threat. Han Chinese dominate the whole of China with the exception of Tibet and Xinjiang where the Han are still in the minority.

There is a degree of autonomy granted to areas with a high minority population. Inner Mongolia is an example of such. Sometimes ethnic minorities are allowed to use their own language in official documents, but not always. For example, a Tibetan can request an official document to be in either the Chinese or Tibetan language. But a Han Chinese can only request Chinese. Some ethnic groups do not have this option, like the Hui, who can only request Chinese.

There is no equal opportunity law in China, and although the ethnic groups are stressed to be equal, it is commonplace to specify which ethnic group is preferred, or even required, when (for example) advertising employment.

Most official government bodies are required to employ at least one member of an ethnic minority.

Sometimes people are given the choice of which ethnic group they wish to belong to, but 'mixed-race' is not an option.

All ID cards in China state which ethnic group the holder belongs to.

The 56 ethnic groups are:

[edit] Ethnic ideology

In the West, the notion of ethnicity, like race and nation, developed in the context of European colonial expansion, when mercantilism and capitalism were promoting global movements of populations at the same time that state boundaries were being more clearly and rigidly defined. In the nineteenth century, modern states generally sought legitimacy through their claim to represent "nations." Nation-states, however, invariably include populations that have been excluded from national life for one reason or another. Members of excluded groups, consequently, will either demand inclusion on the basis of equality, or seek autonomy, sometimes even to the extent of complete political separation in their own nation-state.

Sometimes ethnic groups are subject to prejudicial attitudes and actions by the state or its constituents. In the twentieth century, people began to argue that conflicts among ethnic groups or between members of an ethnic group and the state can and should be resolved in one of two ways. Some, like Jürgen Habermas and Bruce Barry, have argued that the legitimacy of modern states must be based on a notion of political rights of autonomous individual subjects. According to this view the state ought not to acknowledge ethnic, national or racial identity and should instead enforce political and legal equality of all individuals. Others, like Charles Taylor and Will Kymlicka argue that the notion of the autonomous individual is itself a cultural construct, and that it is neither possible nor right to treat people as autonomous individuals. According to this view, states must recognize ethnic identity and develop processes through which the particular needs of ethnic groups can be accommodated within the boundaries of the nation-state. This is the nationalist viewpoint.

In English, Ethnicity goes far beyond the modern ties of a person to a particular nation (e.g., citizenship), and focuses more upon the connection to a perceived shared past and culture. See also Kinship and descent, Romanticism, folklore. In some other languages, the corresponding terms for ethnicity and nationhood may be closer to each other.

The nineteenth century saw the development of the political ideology of ethnic nationalism, when the concept of race was tied to nationalism, first by German theorists including Johann Gottfried von Herder. Instances of societies focusing on ethnic ties to the exclusion of history or historical context arguably have resulted in almost fanatical justification of nationalist or imperialist goals. Two periods frequently cited as examples of this are the nineteenth century consolidation and expansion of the German Empire, and the Third Reich, each promoted on the theory that these governments were only re-possessing lands that had "always" been ethnically German. The history of late-comers to the nation state model, such as those arising in Near East and southeast Europe out of the dissolution of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires, as well as those arising out of the former USSR, is particularly marked by inter-ethnic conflicts.

[edit] Classification

Ethnic groups are usually classified by the language they speak. Main ethnic groups include:

[edit] Research

The Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP) has attempted to map the DNA that varies between humans, which is a less than 1 % difference. This data could create definitive proof of the origin of individual ethnic groups.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  • Abizadeh, Arash. 2001."Ethnicity, Race, and a Possible Humanity" World Order 33.1: 23-34. (Article that explores the social construction of ethnicity and race.)
  • Dunnhaupt, Gerhard. 1989. "The Bewildering German Boundaries", in: Festschrift for P. M. Mitchell. Heidelberg: Winter.
  • Friedlander, Judith. 1975. Being Indian in Hueyapan: A Study of Forced Identity in Contemporary Mexico. New York: Saint Martin's Press.
  • Hobsbawm, Eric, and Terence Ranger, editors. 1983. The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Morales-Díaz, Enrique, and Gabriel Aquino, and Michael Sletcher, ‘Ethnicity’, in Michael Sletcher, ed., New England, (Westport, CT, 2004).
  • Sider, Gerald. 1993. Lumbee Indian Histories. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Smith, MFEMFEM D. 1987. The Ethnic Origins of Nations. Oxford: Blackwell.
  •   census.gov. Race.bg:Етническа група

bs:Etnička grupa cs:Etnikum cy:Grwp ethnig da:Etnicitet de:Ethnie eo:Etno es:Etnia fi:Etninen ryhmä fr:Ethnie he:אתניות hu:Etnikum it:Etnia ja:民族 ko:민족 ms:Etnik nl:Etniciteit no:Etnisitet nn:Etnisitet pl:Grupa etniczna pt:Grupo étnico ru:Этнос simple:Ethnic group sr:Етничка група sv:Etnicitet tr:Etnik grup uk:Етнос zh:族群

Ethnic group

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