(2001) 'The Basic Elements of a Systematic Theory of Ethnic
Sociological Research Online, vol. 6, no. 1, <http://www.socresonline.org.uk/6/1/rex.html>
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Received: 10/3/2000 Accepted: 21/3/2001 Published:
"A social relationship will be called communal if and insofar as the orientation of social action….is based upon a subjective feeling of the parties that they belong together. A social relationship will on the other hand be called associative if and insofar as the orientation of social action within it rests on a rationally motivated adjustment of interests or a similarly motivated agreement. (Weber 1968 p 54)
"By primordial attachment is meant one that stems from the "givens" of existence or more precisely, as culture is inevitably involved in such matters, the assumed givens of social existence; immediate contiguity and live connection mainly, but beyond them the givenness that stems from being born into a particular religious community, speaking a particular language, or even a dialect of a language, and following particular social practices. These continuities of blood, speech, custom and so on are seen to have an ineffable, and at times overpowering coerciveness in and of themselves. One is bound to one's kinsman, one's neighbour, one's fellow believer ipse facto as the result not merely of personal attraction, tactical necessity, common interest or incurred moral obligation, but in least in great part by virtue of some unaccountable absolute import attributed to the very tie itself. (Geertz 1963. p.109)
The economy needs both the new type of central culture and the central state; the culture need the state and the state probably needs the homogeneous cultural branding of its flock, in a situation in which it cannot rely on largely eroded sub-groups either to police its citizens, or to inspire them with that minimum of moral zeal and social identification without which social life becomes very difficult….the mutual relationship of a modern culture and state is something quite new and springs inevitably from the requirements of the modern economy ( Gellner, 1983. p140)
"The socio-economic base is decisive. That much is true in Marxism, even if its more specific propositions are false."(Gellner, 1983)
2I shall in general to avoid using the concept of identity because it is often introduced as a kind of joker in the pack to cover all sorts of situations sometimes referring to the subject in a cognitive mapping of the world, sometimes referring to social position, sometimes to social characteristics sometimes to the personality system. It also has something of the same mysteriousness which seems to follow from Geertz's definitions of primordiality. I use the term here only to refer to a sense of belonging. The notion of reflexive identity refers to the particular sense of belonging which arises from relations to out-groups.
3It would be inappropriate here to go into the whole argument about "functionalism" in sociology. My own position is made clear in my book Key Problems of Sociological Theory in which I reject the use of the organic analogy in Radcliffe-Brown's work and offer my own account based upon the Weberian concept of social action
4There are also now a number of edited collections like those of Romanucci and de Vos(1995) and Sollors (1989) which include articles written from the perspective of anthropology and of a political sociology which deal with conflict as well as intergroup accommodation.
5In my discussion of the work of Smith and Gellner I have not sought to follow the exact distinctions which they make but starting from their basic ideas I have sought to develop the implications of these ideas in a logical way.
6I have set out my own account of the relation between forms of economic exploitation on the one hand and the political order on the other. I do think it important to strengthen Smith's pluralist theory with a recognition of the forms of economic exploitation. This, however, can be combined with a recognition of the importance of political relations. The concept of estates rather than classes is a necessary one in the study of colonial societies as it is in the study of mediaeval Europe. (Rex 1981 , and 1983). I also draw upon the work of Max Weber in the analysis of the various forms of economic exploitation (Weber 1961).
7Actually there is more theoretical complexity than this represented in the volume edited by Smith and Kuper (1969), but the main lines of the distinction between homogeneous, heterogeneous and plural societies remain at the centre of the argument.
8I have discussed some the changes which occur after the end of empire for the colonial people which include the development of a purer market based economy than that which existed in colonial times, the marginalisation of some groups on the edges of this economy and the development of new nationalist forms of revolution.(Rex 1981 and 1983).
9My aim here is to provide a theoretical starting point from which it should be possible to go on to look at the complicating details of actual political history.
10I have in mind here the work of the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and nationalism at the London School of Economics which has never addressed the question of transnational communities except under the heading of diasporas.
11Another account of this process is that given by Castles and Miller (1998), while Robin Cohen who had previously discussed the term diaspora in relation to the Jews, Armenians and Africans across the Atlantic, in his more recent work seeks to set the concept of Diaspora within the overall framework of globalisation. (Cohen 1997).
12There are a number of studies of groups united by language or religion in Britain. Floya Anthias has looked at the question of the Greek Cypriot community united by language if divided internally by social class (Anthias 1992) while Modood has discussed the ways in which the Asian and the Muslim population of Great Britain can act together (Modood 1994and Modood et al 1997).
13Originally the term was used apart from the Jewish case to the dispersal of Armenians and the forced migration of Africans to the Americas and their ambitions to return.
14The official policy of the British government was described as one of "integration" defined by the Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins in 1966 as "cultural diversity, coupled with equal opportunity in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance" (Rex and Tomlinson , 1979)
15I would draw attention particularly to the criticisms of multicultural policy by Wieviorka, Radtke, Rath and Schierup and Alund set out in my book Ethnic Minorities in Modern Nation State,(Rex, 1996) and the volume edited by Beatrice Drury and myself (Rex and Drury,1994).
16In saying this I would also note that there are features of Schlesingsr's argument which are less acceptable, notably his claim that American institutions are essentially European rather than American, and his representation of much Black culture as being akin to that of General Idi Amin.
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