Ethnicity / Ethnic Groups Essay, Research Paper
Ethnicity- the identification of individuals with particular
ethnic groups Ethnic groups are usually limited to minorities; groups that
are smaller than the dominant group in their society. The
composition of an ethnic group, different life-styles or
different levels of income or education may distinguish
individuals within the same ethnic group from one another. Ethnic groups- groups whose members share cultural traditions
and values and a common language, and who distinguish themselves
from other groups (Barth). And are seen by others as different.
Often wear clothes as a symbol of difference, but are integrated
into the wider community. Ethnic groups share common cultural norms, values, identities,
patterns of behaviour, and language. Their members recognise
themselves as a separate group and are so recognised by others.
They may / may not be politicised. Ethnic identity may be seen as
based on "primordial" sentiment; i.e. sentiments
which are seen as going back to ancient times and which tie group
members to one another emotionally despite persistent attempts to
assimilate them. Sometimes the distinction between ethnic groups involves more
than cultural differences. Race and racial classifications are
involved when physical appearance is also a basis for making
distinctions individuals or groups. Though many people tend to
think of? a "race" as a scientific concept based on
biological systems of classification, it is in reality a cultural
construct whose definition and form differ from society to
society. For example, in Brazil, colour of complexion is but one
element in the conceptualisation of status and group, while in
the southern part of the United States an individual was
categorised as white or African-American on the basis of
complexion colour alone. Religion may be one of the factors which serve to distinguish
one ethnic group from another. When the occurs, the ethnic
conflict is heightened and intensified. Each side finds support
in the moral authority of its own religion for continuing the
conflict and its violent action against those whom it
characterises as infidels or heretics. Ethnic differences may
also be class differences. In some societies, the underclass is a
separate ethnic or racial group, and ethnic conflict may be
explained as class conflict. In other approaches, ethnic identification is seen as
completely situational. In Europe, ethnic groups were often also
territorially defined and wanted political autonomy. Sometimes the distinction between ethnic groups involves more
than cultural differences. Racial classifications, religion and
class may be factors. So ethnic conflict may be based on any of
these. There may be many ethnic groups in one country or even in one
city; e.g. Madagascar, which has some 18 different ethnic groups.
(Polyethnic- made up of different ethnic groups).
In such societies, ethnicity is a means of social classification.
People use it to anticipate, to evaluate- and sometimes to try
and understand the behaviour of others.
Unfortunately, ethnicity can attract discrimination against
members of ethnic groups, especially for urban ethnic
minorities.? The concept of ethnicity has proven useful to
domestic government agencies and international organisations
trying to assist ethnic minorities in polyethnic societies to
advance themselves. Rather than treating the inhabitants of a
developing country as culturally homogenous, for instance, most
international aid agencies now try to take into account the
values, institutions, and customs of various ethnic groups,
targeting relief or aid to their particular needs.
? Ways people show that they are proud of their ethnic
- Behaving in a distinctive manner
- Living near one another
- Attending special functions
- Performing traditional rituals
- Wearing distinctive clothing
? The Korean community of New Malden
- There are about 24,000 South Koreans in Britain, of whom 20,000
live in London and Surrey.
- There are signs of burgeoning Korean enterprise everywhere in
New Malden: Korean restaurants, travel agents, supermarkets,
opticians, hairdressers- even a Korean college where Koreans at
British schools can keep up with the Korean curriculum.
- There is a growing tendency for the Koreans to find London, and
in particular New Malden, so attractive that they decide never to
return home, mostly because of the high quality of the
- Emigration restrictions were only eased in 1989, partly as a
result of the Seoul Olympics the previous year. Since then, the
number of Koreans in London has soared. They like it because
it"s "a free country".
- Integration is not so easy. Korean students who come to London
to improve their English can find that they spend three hours a
day doing a course at Oxford Circus, speaking a small amount of
broken English to other foreigners- but never get to know any
- There are about 30 Korean Protestant Churches in London, one
Korean RC church, and one Korean Buddhist Temple, as well as
Korean Saturday schools in Chessington and North Ealing. The Jewish community of Stamford Hill
- The men are instantly recognisable from their beards, black
hats and long, black coats.
- These Jewish groups seem to create self-imposed ghettos and
seek to maintain the kind of life which existed in the shetl of
Eastern Europe. They speak Yiddish as well as English, and
religious duties and practice are at the centre of their
- The children are educated at private schools, of which at least
25 are scattered across Stamford Hill. These are named after
towns and rabbinical dynasties in Poland, Russia, Romania and
Hungary. Boys and girls are educated separately.
- Many members of the community have 10 or 12 children and it is
estimated that, including children, it now numbers 16,000 in
Stamford Hill with all its members living within walking distance
of their small, informal synagogues, where they pray three times
- They look on children as blessings. God will provide. What is
special about this community is its commitment to the religious
way of life, not letting go of a way of life which has existed
for over 3,000 years.
- They do not allow the children to have the influence of the
television and the media.