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Definition of Ethnic Group.

Ethnic group or ethnicity refers to the category of people who identify with each other
based upon common language, ancestral, social, cultural or national experience. It can also be
defined as a named social group based upon perceptions of shared ancestry, cultural, tradition
and common history that culturally distinguish that group from other group. However, it is
important to differentiate the term ethnic group from the word tribe which refers to ethnic
subset within which all almost human activities are organized on the basis of kinship (the
relation or connection by blood or marriage or adoption).
Characteristics of Ethnic Group.
Some of the characteristics of ethnic groups include common language, common
religion, common beliefs, and have also share same values. Ethnic groups share same
language and members learn it through the process of enculturation. Members of ethnic group
learn language not inherit it biologically. Also ethnic groups share common beliefs including
religious and cultural beliefs. Members of ethnic group value their traditional beliefs, and the
language they employ in communicating to each other in their society.
Levels of Ethnic Identity
1. Civilizations: refers to groupings of nationalities on the basis of a shared or common
cultural historical tradition. In most cases, this shared cultural tradition takes the form
of religion.
2. Nationalities: can be defined as ethnic groups who collectively own, or feel that they
own, a specific geographical region, or homeland, in which they have exclusive
3. Sub nationalities: refers to ethnic groups whose identities are nested within that of a
larger national identity. For example, tribes.
4. Transnational groups: refers to ethnic communities geographically separated from
their homeland and live among members of another nationality. For instance, some
Burundians migrate to other foreign lands. They live together with members of that
particular nationality.
Ethnic Conflict.
It can be defined as the disagreement or argument between different ethnic groups.
One of African countries which once faced ethnic conflict is Rwanda where the conflict was

between the Hutu and the Tutsi. Another example can be drawn in Nigeria between the
Muslims and Christians over religious beliefs.
Reasons for The Prevalent of Ethnic Conflict Across the Globe.
Unequal distribution of resources amongst ethnic groups is one of the reasons that
contribute to ethnic conflict. When resources are distributed unevenly among ethnic groups,
those who feel that they are badly treated tend to engage in fights with their fellow group
endeavouring to exterminate that particular group which they think is well treated in terms of
the distributed resources.
Another cause is ethnocentrism which refers to an act of taking ones culture as
superior or proper to other peoples cultures. When one ethnic group claims to be superior to
another in terms of religious beliefs, values, and the language spoken by its members, the
inferior group starts up a fight against the superior group aiming at exterminating them.
Effects of Ethnic Conflict
Social instability can be one of the effects of ethnic conflict in that there may occur
events that threatens the safety of one ethnic group by the other. At its worse effects of ethnic
conflict can be dire that deaths can be in huge numbers.
Ethnic Homogenization
This term refers to the process by which one ethnic group attempts to eliminate
rivalry ethnic groups within a particular region or country.
Forms of Ethnic Homogenization
Ethnic cleansing is the physical elimination of an unwanted ethnic group or groups
from particular geographical areas. It involves genocide and/or relocation.
Genocide is the deliberate and systematic attempt to physically destroy the members
of the rival population. The objective may be the total destruction of the group, the reduction
of their numbers, or a stimulus for the surviving members of the group to migrate.
Relocation is the forced resettlement of an unwanted ethnic group in a new
geographical location. The forced relocation of the target population may be either in
conjunction with genocide, as in the Darfur region of Sudan, or separate from it. Sometimes
the unwanted group is forced outside the boundaries of the country, becoming what today we

term refugees. In other cases, an ethnic group is forcibly moved to a new area within the
boundaries of the state, where it is assumed that they will pose less of a problem.
Assimilation is the social absorption of one ethnic group by another dominant one.
Assimilation may be total, in which the ethnic identity of one group is lost, or partial, in
which one ethnic group assumes a subordinate identity. Assimilation may be either forced or
Ethnic Segregation
It refers to the enforced separation of ethnic groups in which the dominant ethnic
group places legal restriction on the action of the members of other group. In this situations,
the dominant ethnic group does not attempt to eliminate the group, but rather places legal
restrictions on the actions of the members of the group. In most cases, they have no political
rights. They may not be permitted to own land, or they may own land in only certain
restricted areas. Marriage between them and members of the dominant group may be
prohibited. They may also be restricted to certain economic occupations. One of the examples
is apartheid in south Africa where white people were segregating the blacks.
Ethnic Accommodation
This term refers to the creation of social and political system that provides for and
support ethnic group differences. It is an alternative to ethnic homogenization or segregation
and is some form of political accommodation that formally recognizes and supports the
ethnic and cultural differences of the population. Accommodation takes many forms. One
form is to adopt a strategy of official recognized ethnic pluralism.