How Are Beliefs and Ideas of Ethnicity Maintained?

Published: 2021-09-14 21:05:09
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Category: Social Issues

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HOW ARE BELIEFS AND IDEAS OF ETHNICITY ESTABLISHED AND MAINTAINED?
Conceptions of ethnicity (from both within and outside the cultural community itself) are established and sustained through two integral means; the structure of the political, social, religious and educational systems, and the constant re-evaluation and interpretation of these spheres and how relevant they are to the ethnicity. Through the course of this essay, I will break down and examine how the aforementioned structures assist in the shaping of different understandings regarding 'ethnicity' and 'nationalism', namely how they were initially established, and how they are perpetuated, despite changing social and political conditions throughout the ages. This contention will be further substantiated through close analysis of various scholarly conclusions, and historical examples demonstrate various anthropological theories regarding the subject.

The origins of 'nationalism' and 'ethnicity' not only indicate how an ethnicity is formed, but provide an insight enabling us to better understand who the ethnicities today are and why they exist. The establishment of an ethnic core is argued to be self conscious and intentional, and these qualities facilitate the shaping of an individual nation as well as the particular cultural boundaries it defers to. Larger nations are often moulded around dominant ethnicity/s , for example, the Ancient Roman nation was originally of Trojan and Latin descent, and later grew to incorporate and dominate numerous ethnic sub-factions. Central to the development of nations is the paradox of ethnicity which requires the coexistence of flux and durability- reconciling the ever changing individual and cultural expressions within distinct social and cultural parameters. Further academic discrepancies regarding the nature of 'ethnicity' includes the debate over whether ethnicity must be viewed as 'primordial', and regarded as an extension of processes of genetic selection, or as 'situational'- where belonging to group is a matter of mutable attitudes, perceptions and sentiments varying with the particular situation of the subject.
An additional discrepancy to be cleared up is the relationship (that is, the similarities and differences) between 'ethnicity' and 'nationalism'. Whilst there is a conceptual and historical overlap between the two terms, they must not be confused- ethnic communities do not have several attributes of nation; for instance, they do not need to be resident in 'their' territorial homeland. Culture, within ethnicities, may not be common to all members, the members do not need to be part of same economic community, and they do not need common legal code, rights, and duties for all. A similarity shared between 'ethnicities' and 'nations', however, is the need for cultural flexibility to surrounding social systems and conditions to ensure the continued existence of the community.
As Hugh Seton- Watson (author of world renowned text on nationalism) purports, '[although] no "scientific definition of the nation can be devised, the phenomenon has existed and exists.' It is, however, through the close examination of a nation's origins and evolution that one can approximate a clear idea of 'ethnicity' and 'nationalism'.

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