chapter
Constructivist theories
Pages 3

With the advent of a new interpretive paradigm based on *postmodernism, attention has shifted to the negotiation of multiple subjects over group boundaries and identity. In this atmosphere of renewed sensitivity to the dialectics of the objective and the subjective in the process of ethnic identity formation and maintenance, even the negotiable character of ethnic boundaries stressed by Barth was too reminiscent of his objectivist predecessors’ tendency to reification. It was argued that terms like ‘group’, ‘category’ and ‘boundary’ still connote a fixed identity, and Barth’s concern with maintenance tends to reify it still more (Cohen 1978:386). The mercurial nature of ethnicity was accounted for when it was defined as ‘a set of sociocultural diacritics [physical appearance, name, language, history, religion, nationality] which define a shared identity for members and non-members’; ‘a series of nesting dichotomizations of inclusiveness and exclusiveness’ (Cohen 1978:386-7).