chapter  2
AN 'ETHNIC' COMMUNlTY
Pages 17

Such an approach implies that ethnic groups are defined by the concept of identity, and this identity is the result of opposition and reaction to perceptions of other ethnic groups. People thus emphasise particular customs and/or ideas because these give them a self defmition in reaction to their neighbours-they are what their neighbours or enemies are not. A person's ethnic identity is a matter of choice, with individuals making rational decisions to ensure the best results, and when it is no longer practical for them to belong to one ethnic group then they will change to another. When this is applied to the British South Asian context it is possible to see that many choose to portray themselves as an ethnic group in reaction to the ethnicity of other groups around them (particularly the politically dominant white British). Indian-ness or Hindu-ness may be a matter of choice for them, there are various aspects of it which can be chosen or discarded, and there is the final

1 That is, prescribed by external groups, such as the local authorities, the media, and the general conceptions of British society.