Ethnic group

see caption
Karamojong people dancing at their festival

An ethnic group or an ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other on the basis of shared attributes that distinguish them from other groups. Those attributes can include common sets of traditions, ancestry, language, history, society, culture, nation, religion, or social treatment within their residing area.[1][2][3] Ethnicity is sometimes used interchangeably with the term nation, particularly in cases of ethnic nationalism, and is separate from the related concept of races.

Ethnicity may be construed as an inherited or as a societally imposed construct. Ethnic membership tends to be defined by a shared cultural heritage, ancestry, origin myth, history, homeland, language, or dialect, symbolic systems[citation needed] such as religion, mythology and ritual, cuisine, dressing style, art, or physical appearance. Ethnic groups may share a narrow or broad spectrum of genetic ancestry, depending on group identification, with many groups having mixed genetic ancestry.[4][5][6] Ethnic groups often continue to speak related languages.

By way of language shift, acculturation, adoption and religious conversion, individuals or groups may over time shift from one ethnic group to another. Ethnic groups may be subdivided into subgroups or tribes, which over time may become separate ethnic groups themselves due to endogamy or physical isolation from the parent group. Conversely, formerly separate ethnicities can merge to form a pan-ethnicity and may eventually merge into one single ethnicity. Whether through division or amalgamation, the formation of a separate ethnic identity is referred to as ethnogenesis.

Although both organic and performative criteria characterise ethnic groups, debate in the past had dichotomised between primordialism and constructivism. Earlier 20th-century "Primordialists" viewed ethnic groups as real phenomena whose distinct characteristics have endured since the distant past.[7] Perspectives that developed after the 1960s increasingly viewed ethnic groups as social constructs, with identity assigned by societal rules.[8][9]

  1. ^ Chandra, Kanchan (2012). Constructivist theories of ethnic politics. Oxford University Press. pp. 69–70. ISBN 978-0-19-989315-7. OCLC 829678440. Archived from the original on 2022-07-30. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  2. ^ "ethnicity: definition of ethnicity". Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
  3. ^ People, James; Bailey, Garrick (2010). Humanity: An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (9th ed.). Wadsworth Cengage learning. p. 389. In essence, an ethnic group is a named social category of people based on perceptions of shared social experience or one's ancestors' experiences. Members of the ethnic group see themselves as sharing cultural traditions and history that distinguish them from other groups. Ethnic group identity has a strong psychological or emotional component that divides the people of the world into opposing categories of 'us' and 'them'. In contrast to social stratification, which divides and unifies people along a series of horizontal axes based on socioeconomic factors, ethnic identities divide and unify people along a series of vertical axes. Thus, ethnic groups, at least theoretically, cut across socioeconomic class differences, drawing members from all strata of the population.
  4. ^ "Insight into Ethnic Differences". National Institutes of Health (NIH). 2015-05-25. Archived from the original on 2021-08-02. Retrieved 2021-08-02.
  5. ^ Banda, Yambazi; Kvale, Mark N.; Hoffmann, Thomas J.; Hesselson, Stephanie E.; Ranatunga, Dilrini; Tang, Hua; Sabatti, Chiara; Croen, Lisa A.; Dispensa, Brad P.; Henderson, Mary; Iribarren, Carlos (2015-08-01). "Characterizing Race/Ethnicity and Genetic Ancestry for 100,000 Subjects in the Genetic Epidemiology Research on Adult Health and Aging (GERA) Cohort". Genetics. 200 (4): 1285–1295. doi:10.1534/genetics.115.178616. ISSN 0016-6731. PMC 4574246. PMID 26092716. Archived from the original on 2021-08-02. Retrieved 2021-08-02.
  6. ^ Salter, Frank; Harpending, Henry (2013-07-01). "J.P. Rushton's theory of ethnic nepotism". Personality and Individual Differences. 55 (3): 256–260. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2012.11.014. ISSN 0191-8869. Archived from the original on 2021-08-02. Retrieved 2021-08-02.
  7. ^ Bayar, Murat (2009-10-14). "Reconsidering primordialism: an alternative approach to the study of ethnicity". Ethnic and Racial Studies. 32 (9): 1639–1657. doi:10.1080/01419870902763878. S2CID 143391013. Archived from the original on 2022-03-03. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  8. ^ Angela Onwuachi-Willig (6 September 2016). "Race and Racial Identity Are Social Constructs". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 1 November 2020. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  9. ^ Chandra Ford; Nina T Harawa (29 April 2010). "A new conceptualization of ethnicity for social epidemiologic and health equity research". Soc Sci Med. 71 (2): 251–258. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.04.008. PMC 2908006. PMID 20488602.

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