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Social stratification of Ethnicity

While race is seen as biological, ethnicity is cultural or social in its meaning. An ethnic group may have a common language, history, national origin or lifestyle and hence different nomenclatures like ethno-religious and ethno-linguistic are also used to further classify subcategories. Ethnicity is a social phenomenon in which people learn their ethnic differences as a process of socialization and with the use of exclusionary devices like marriage. Historically ethnic differences have also led to situations of conflicts. Balkanization of Europe is largely attributed to the ethnic problems and the contemporary conflicts in Africa are largely due to ethnic differences. While racial identities remain same, ethnic identities are revised over time. Migration on a massive scale in the last century provided scholars to examine the ethnic identities. One ethnic group may be subsumed by another under different situations. Ethnic stratification depends upon the processes which a society has undergone. Such processes can be assimilation, melting pot, pluralistic co-existence or antagonistic co-existence. During the process of assimilation new immigrant groups adopt the attitudes and culture of the existing dominant group. In melting pot different ethnic groups merge together. Antagonistic co-existence is best exemplified in a society which suffers from ethnic conflicts. Such societies best demonstrate the existence of sharp ethnic lines. Some theorists argue that modernizing influence will lead to blurring of ethnic lines across the globe but in the contemporary world it is not happening. The ethnic lines have been more pronounced then ever.


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