Race, ethnicity and nationality: the future of multiculturalism in a global age

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapter

Abstract

Race, ethnicity and nationality are categories which involve drawing boundaries between people (Walters, 2012). Racial boundaries are normally drawn on the basis of physical markers, such as skin pigmentation, hair texture and facial features, while ethnic and national boundaries are normally drawn on the basis of cultural markers such as language, religion and shared customs. While members of a purported race may not identify themselves as sharing a common racial identity, members of an ethnic or national group necessarily recognise that they share a common identity with other members of their group. Contrary to the expectations of the founding fathers of Sociology, the force of race, ethnicity and nationality shows no signs of diminishing. Indeed, given the persistence and power of racial/ethnic/national ties and identities across the globe, and the conflicts which they can engender, we may be tempted to believe that the division of people into racial, ethnic and national groups is in some sense natural or ‘primordial’. What we need to recognise, however, is that the strength of racial/ethnic/national ties and identities changes over time and varies across the globe. This suggests that racial/ethnic/national divisions can only be understood when located in their social and historical context. Sociologists take this position and argue that race, ethnicity and nationality are socially constructed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContemporary Sociology
EditorsMartin Holborn
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherPolity Press
Pages65-95
Number of pages31
ISBN (Print)9780745661827, 9780745661834
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2015

Keywords

  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Nationality
  • Multiculturalism
  • Global age

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