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The Meaning of Ethnicity and Ethnic Identification

The Meaning of Ethnicity and Ethnic Identification ethnicity - (n) - A quality assigned to a specific group of people historically connected by a common national origin or language. Ethnic classification is used for identification rather than differentiation. The term "ethnicity" is a complex term. In today's public discourse, it has replaced the term "race" as a more "politically correct" representation of the classification of humans on the basis of national origin and language. However, in practice, "ethnicity" as a term carries with it all of the ambiguity and controversy that the term "race" carries. This is especially true when one attempts to apply the term to a particular individual by "ethnic identification." At one time in history, many believed that ideas of race and ethnic background would slowly fade from human consciousness; that the world would slowly meld into one homogeneous society as a result of modernization, industrialization, and individualism.[1] However, as the world progresses into the 21st century, the issue of ethnicity and ethnic diversity, inequality, and conflict seems to grow in significance every day. In fact, since 1991, thirty-five out of thirty-seven major wars and conflict have been directly related to ethnic conflicts.[2] Further, smaller, social conflicts between various societies, based on the inherent problems with ethnic identification and discrimination have remained steady world-wide. According to the American Anthropological Association, the concept of "race" carries with it a long history of ideas of superiority and inferiority, where, "Perceived behavioral features and differences in intellect were inextricably linked to race and served as a basis for the ranking, in terms of superiority, of races."[3] For this reason, combined with the very real practical problem of classifying individua...

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The Meaning of Ethnicity and Ethnic Identification. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 05:55, January 30, 2015, from