chapter  5
22 Pages

Multidimensional ethnicity

Towards a contextual analytical framework

As we saw in Chapter 4, the definition of ethnicity, both in a generic sense and in the case of particular ethnic groups, has been beset by difficulties. Nevertheless, from the late 1960s onwards the dominant view within ‘western’ social scientific traditions has been that ethnic groups are ‘selfdefining systems’ and consequently particular ethnic groups have been defined on the basis of self-identification and identification by others. Such a definition has largely been set within a theoretical framework focusing on the construction of ethnic boundaries in the context of social interaction and their organizational properties. Ethnicity has been regarded as essentially a consciousness of identity vis-à-vis other groups; a ‘we’/‘they’ opposition.