chapter  7
17 Pages


Constructing identities in the past and the present

The theory of ethnicity put forward in this book addresses the relationship between ethnicity and culture. It has been shown that the construction of ethnicity is grounded in the shared subliminal dispositions of social agents which shape, and are shaped by, objective commonalities of practice, i.e. the habitus. Such subliminal dispositions provide the basis for the recognition of commonalities of sentiment and interest, and the perception and communication of cultural affinities and differences. Consequently, the dichotomy between primordial and instrumental approaches to ethnicity can be transcended. The cultural practices and representations that become objectified as symbols of ethnicity are derived from, and resonate with, the habitual practices and experiences of the people concerned, as well as reflecting the instrumental contingencies of a particular situation.