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The Meaning of Ethnicity and Ethnic Identification

  • Word Count: 682
  • Approx Pages: 3

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.Â
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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