What is cultural ethnicity


The conceptual debates within ethnicity research run between the so-called Primordialists or Essentialists on the one hand as well as the Instrumentalists or Constructivists on the other hand. From the perspective of the primordialists, ethnicity is a fundamental identity and is based on unchangeable cultural endowments and identifications that each individual receives through birth and upbringing. The opposite position follows the general theory of social constructivism and in turn comprises two versions: the first focuses on the macro level of social phenomena and emphasizes the elite-dominated instrumental character of ethnicity, while the second perspective relates to the micro level of social processes and relationality like also highlights the situativity of ethnicity.

Furthermore, the theories of ethnicity differ by the objectivistic or. subjectivist Approaching the subject. From an objectivist point of view, ethnicity is viewed by most sociologists - on a structural basis - and by many ethnologists - on a cultural basis - as an objective characteristic of societies. Their results are either descriptions of the presented ethnic characteristics of the individual groups or explanations of the social and power differences of the ethnic groups living next to one another.

This point of view is questioned by including that believed Awareness of origin is seen as constitutive for ethnic groups. In the early 1960s, Michel Moerman formulated the first “subjective” definition of ethnicity. This approach was further developed in such a way that the experiential dimension of the ethnic took center stage and ethnicity was conceptualized as a phenomenon of language, thought and social practice - as opposed to "ethnopolitics" or ethnic ideologies.

According to the Norwegian social anthropologist Fredrik Barth (1928−2016), ethnic groups are the result of social processes of identification and demarcation between actors. So there are no “objective” cultural differences that can scientifically be viewed as primordially given characteristics of ethnicity. Instead, only characteristics that are significant for the actors themselves create ethnicity.

Recently, the peculiarities and influences of hybrid lifeworlds have been increasingly emphasized and the identity narratives and practices of individuals and communities that are located in several ethnic or national traditions at the same time have been examined.