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An ethnic group (also called apeople or anethnicity) is a group of human beings whose members identify with each other, usually on the basis of a presumed common genealogy or ancestry. Ethnic identity is also marked by the recognition from others of a group's distinctiveness and by common cultural, linguistic, religious, behavioral or biological traits.
According to the international meeting on the Challenges of Measuring an Ethnic World (1992), "Ethnicity is a fundamental factor in human life: it is a phenomenon inherent in human experience" despite its often malleable definitions. Others, like anthropologists Fredrik Barth and Eric Wolf, regard ethnicity as a result of interaction, rather than essential qualities of groups. Processes that result in the emergence of such identification are called ethnogenesis. Members of an ethnic group, on the whole, claim cultural continuities over time, although historians and cultural anthropologists have documented that many of the values, practices, and norms that imply continuity with the past are of relatively recent invention.
Those human groups that entertain a subjective belief in their common descent because of similarities of physical type or of customs or both, or because of memories of colonization and migration; this belief must be important for group formation; furthermore it does not matter whether an objective blood relationship exists.
At a basic level, it is a sense of ethnic identity where cultural and/or linguistic symbols are used for internal cohesion and for differentiation from other groups. In many ways, ethnicity is an alternative form of social organization to class formation. W. J. Foltz has identified four types of characteristics that distinguish different ethnic groups. The first characteristic is biological, where members of a group develop common physical characteristics by drawing upon a \u2018particular genetic pool\u2019. More important are the next two distinguishing features, cultural and linguistic, where the ethnic group develops a distinctive value system and language. Finally, the ethnic group may evolve a structural identity by developing a particular type of \u2018joint\u2019 relations, differing from the way others organize their \u2018social roles\u2019.
Paul Brass looks at ethnic groups within three definitional parameters: First, in terms of \u2018objective attributes\u2019 \u2013 some distinguishing cultural, religious or linguistic feature that separates one group of people from another. Second, in terms of \u2018subjective feelings\u2019 where a subjective self-consciousness exists. Third, in relation to behavior \u2013 that is, how ethnic groups behave or do not behave, especially in relation to other groups, since cultural and other distinctions really come to the fore in one group\u2019s interaction with other groups.
Anthropologist Ronald Cohen, in a review of anthropological and sociological studies of ethnic groups since Weber, claimed that the identification of "ethnic groups" by social scientists often reflected inaccurate labels more than indigenous realities:
Cohen also suggests that claims concerning "ethnic" identity (like earlier claims concerning "tribal" identity) are often colonialist practices and effects of the relations between colonized peoples and nation-states.Harold Isaacs has identified otherdiacri tics (distinguishing markers) of ethnicity, among them physical appearance, name, language, history, and religion; this definition has entered some dictionaries. Social scientists have thus focused on how, when, and why different markers of ethnic identity become salient. Thus, anthropologist Joan Vincent observed that ethnic boundaries often have a mercurial character. Ronald Cohen concluded that ethnicity is "a series of nesting dichotomizations of inclusiveness and exclusiveness". He agrees with Joan Vincent's observation that (in Cohen's paraphrase) "Ethnicity ... can be narrowed or broadened in boundary terms in relation to the specific needs of political mobilization.This may be why descent is sometimes a marker of ethnicity, and sometimes not: which diacritic of ethnicity is salient depends on whether people are scaling ethnic boundaries up or down, and whether they are scaling them up or down depends generally on the political situation.
An ethnic conflict or ethnic war is a war between ethnic groups often as a result of ethnic nationalism. They are of interest because of the apparent prevalence since the Cold War and because they frequently result in war crimes such as genocide. Academics explanations of ethnic conflict generally fall into one of three schools of thought: primordialist, instrumentalist or constructivist. Intellectual debate has also focused around the issue of whether ethnic conflict has become more prevalent since the end of the Cold War, and on devising ways of managing conflicts, through instruments such as consociationalism and federalisation.
The causes of ethnic conflict are debated by political scientists and sociologists who generally fall into one of three schools of thought: primordialist, instrumentalist, and constructivist. More recent scholarship draws on all three schools in order to increase our understanding of ethnic conflict.
Proponents of primordialist accounts of ethnic conflict argue that \u201cethnic groups and nationalities exist because there are traditions of belief and action towards primordial objects such as biological features and especially territorial location\u201d. The primordialist account relies on a concept of kinship between members of an ethnic group. Donald Horowitz argues that this kinship \u201cmakes it possible for ethnic groups to think in terms of family resemblances\u201d.
There are a number of political scientists who refer to the concept of ethnic wars as a myth because they argue that the root causes of ethnic conflict do not involve ethnicity but rather institutional, political, and economic factors. These political scientists argue that the concept of ethnic war is misleading because it leads to an essentialist conclusion that certain groups are doomed to fight each other when in fact the wars between them are the result of political decisions. Opposing groups may substitute ethnicity for the underlying factors to simplify identification of friend and foe.
Anthony Smith notes that the instrumentalist account \u201ccame to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s in the United States, in the debate about (white) ethnic persistence in what was supposed to have been an effective melting pot\u201d. This new theory sought to explain such persistence as the result of the actions of community leaders, \u201cwho used their cultural
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