Ethnic Groups and Ethnicity
Members of ethnic groups share certain beliefs, values, customs, and norms because of their common
Ethnic groups may define themselves as different because of language, religion, historical
experience, geographic isolation, kinship, or "race."
Markers of an ethnic group may include a collective name, belief in common descent, a sense of
solidarity, and as association with a specific territory which the group may or may not hold.
Ethnicity means identification with, and feeling part of, an ethnic group and exclusion from certain other
groups because of this affiliation.
Status encompasses the various positions that people in society.
All people occupy multiple statuses, with particular ones dominating in particular settings.
Ascribed statuses are those that people have little or no choice about occupying (e.g., age, "race,"
Achieved statuses—those that people acquire through their own choices, actions, efforts, talents, or
accomplishments—may be positive or negative.
Some statuses, particularly ascribed ones, are mutually exclusive, while others are contextual.
Adjusting or switching one's status in different social contexts is called the situational negotiation of
In many societies ascribed statuses are associated with positions in the social-political hierarchy.
So-called minority groups have less power and less secure access to resources than do
Ethnic groups often are minorities.
When an ethnic group is assumed to have a biological basis, it is called a race.
Discrimination against a race is called racism.
Race, like ethnicity, is a cultural category rather than a biological reality.