The near universality of multiethnicity in contemporary states, the persistence—culturally and structurally—of the ethnic factor, contradicting modernization and Marxist theories, and the strong public interest in ethnic phenomena have stimulated a great deal of research in sociology and other social sciences. This review examines the wide diversity of definitions and interpretations in that research. The demography of ethnic groups, the sources of ethnic survival and revival (primordial attachments, political and economic interests, and estrangement from the larger society), and the major themes in the literature on ethnicity are examined. Three themes are emphasized: 1) the relationship of ethnicity to social stratification and discrimination-in particular with reference to internal colonialism, split labor markets, and resource mobilization; 2) ethnicity as culture, illustrated by reference to studies of family and religion; and 3) the connections between ethnicity and politics in developing states, in developed states, and in the armed forces and police of many societies.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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