Talk:Ethnic group

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ethnicity is just a fictional conept with no basis in reality just like race, this article depicts the existence of ethinicty as a fact, which is unencyclopedic. i added a one line quote from a scientific article to make people aware that ethnicity is a code word for race. I dont see why the concept of ethnicity should be treated with credibility when there is no scientific proove for it and it just serves as codeword for race(which has becoem unaceptable and unscientific) so that people dont have to change their racist views.

this article has npov-violations in that it treats the IDEA of ethnecity as a undisputed scientific fact.Mnlk (talk) 12:40, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

Both race and ethnicity are undisputed scientific facts. What is not an undusputed scientific fact is that any of them are essential categorizations or have biological or genetic basis. This article does not suggest that ethnicity does so - in fact it very clearly states that it does not. Ethnic groups exist - because poeople believe in them, and act as if they are meaningful. Just like racial groups. Otherwise we couldn't have ethnic nationalism or racism. Which unfortunately we do.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 13:44, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

maunus i assume good will on your side, but after hearing your statement about race and ethnicity being undisputed scientifc facts, this becoime increasingly hard.. race and ethinicity arent scientific facts! just because a majority of people believe in something doesnt make it a scientific fact! it makes it a bleive a concept or even superstition and at that ehtnicity just seems to be a replacement for the unscientific term race(in humans), why isethnicity necessay when you can just talk about peoples//cultures... ? and it is not a logic argument to coclude becaue race doesnt exist racism cant, people can and do use fiction as the basis of belive sytsems and racism is just that race amongst humans doesnt exist, or are you saying the whole raceideology of the nazis are standing on a scientific foundation?(NO! it is not any more real than the easterbunny) sorry but you will need to bring up a reliable source that proves that ethnicity can be proven to exist.. there isnt one! — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mnlk (talkcontribs) 05:09, 7 May 2012 (UTC) Mnlk (talk) 05:42, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

Well perhaps I shouldn't say scientific facts but social facts. Since that's what they are. I am in fact one of the editors who spend most time here on wikipedia making sure that the "biological view" of race and ethnicity isn't predominating. I've changed it to social fact. I think that you are also confusing the concept of ethnicity due to the American use of the word as a euphemism for race - social scientists use ethnicity to talk about cultural group membership of a specific kind. It doesn't have connotations of "biological identity" for social scientists.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 13:58, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

care to explain what a social fact is? sounds like original research... ethnicities dont exist, and race doesnt exist's a concept nothing more nothing less..and it should be clearly indicated that it is a social construct and not a fact...unless you can of course provide scientific sources for the defacto existence of ethnicity and race. believing in something doesnt make it real even if millions do so. and as always i am assuming good faith so no need to try and establish your credibility it has nothing to do with the matter at hand! Mnlk (talk) 11:36, 21 May 2012 (UTC)·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 01:20, 2 July 2012 (UTC)

What is NOT a concept, nor even a "social fact" (?), but simply a FACT, is that before people started migrating on a large scale a few centuries ago, they clearly looked in a special way in every corner of the world: black-skinned in Sub-Saharan Africa and Australia, brown in Egypt, yellowish in India, yellow from Central Asia to Greenland, red in Americas, white in Europe - the further to the North the paler and some of them even having fair hair and blue eyes, a thing inexistent elsewhere.
The point is how you will name such a phenomenon. Someone called it "race", someone else "ethnicity" and both work, if you ask me. You were born human in order to systematize and categorize the reality around you. And the fact that this or that category has an infamous history of being applied by ones as a justification for their "superiority" over the others, does not discredit the category itself. Just like crusades do not discredit Christianity and 9/11 does not discredit Islam.
So I agree: ethnicity is a code word for race. Alter-globalization is a code word for anti-globalization. Challenged is a code word for handicapped. Black is a code word for Negro and African Amercian is a code word for black. People have an astonishing fear of using words that have once been used in a WRONG way. Which should be sturdily fought -) Slamazzar (talk) 01:24, 30 June 2012 (UTC)
IF they hadn't started migrating on a grand scale then how did they come to live on every continent? Ethnicity is a code word for race in the US only - in the rest of the world and among actual experts in the US it is fairly easy to keep the two apart. ·ʍaunus·snunɐw·
Saying "migrating on a large scale", I'm talking about the recent history, that is colonialism in the modern era, and, even more recently, globalization; not about the prehistory when, of course, people had to migrate, as any other species, as the life in general, to inhabit different parts of the world. And in every part of the world evolution went in a slightly different way. And the fact that some kind of a deviated political correctness in trying to deny this simple and obvious truth of biology is the point of the disscussion.
But if this "race fear" is predominantly American, the question is why the rest of the world tends to share such a "politically correct" point of view recently... Slamazzar (talk) 16:21, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

The article is VERY INCONSISTENT. Does anybody with a clear understanding have the time to smoothen it out? DiAyd (talk) 09:08, 5 October 2012 (UTC)

I find the obsession with parental and ancestral ethnicity, in Wikipedia biographical articles, to be bizarre and quite creepy. -- (talk) 11:58, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

Constructed Ethnic Groups[edit]

Must all ethnic groups evolve naturally? Can a group of people which adopted a new language, culture, and religion be considered an ethnic group? Do such constructed ethnic groups actually exist? Prsaucer1958 (talk) 17:11, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Most ethnic groups are "constructed" to various degrees. Political processes of ethnogenesis happen all the time - often involving different kinds of deliberate creation of group traits and identity characteristics.·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 17:16, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

first paragraph[edit]

"An ethnic group is a group of people who share a common ethnicity" wow this doesnt even qualify as an explanation, let alone as encyclopedic!

you cant explain a word by the same word! that's like saying squares are square shaped objects... Mnlk (talk) 11:42, 21 May 2012 (UTC)

The first paragraph is wrong... scholars do not agree whether or not self-identification is a must. Most actually dispute this part. DiAyd (talk) DiAyd (talk) 08:38, 5 October 2012 (UTC)

And now the first paragraph is WRONG again. Ethnicity is not necessarily a matter of self-identfication. It may also be identification by others only... but let's not trust the experts on the topic. (talk) 21:03, 24 November 2014 (UTC)


It looks like in an attempt to not offend anyone, this article became rather vague, and consequently uninformative. I feel like there's probably a tag for this, but I don't know what it is. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:05, 2 March 2013 (UTC)

Maybe it is becomes it is a rather ambiguous and wide concept? Yes. (talk) 21:04, 24 November 2014 (UTC)


This article is one of Wikipedia's 100 most vital articles. I just now reverted 4 instances of IP vandalism dating to October 19, 2011. Would you believe it...? Debresser (talk) 23:28, 6 April 2013 (UTC)

I wouldn't know which topics are the "vital 10" or "vital 100", who gets to define these things? --dab (𒁳) 06:09, 17 June 2013 (UTC)

"ethnic identity is constantly reinforced through common characteristics which set the group apart from other groups"[edit]

This statement is "referenced" with no less than five footnotes:

  • Camoroff, John L. and Jean Camoroff 2009: Ethnicity Inc.. Chicago: Chicago Press (the entire book)
  • The Invention of Tradition, Sider 1993 Lumbee Indian Histories (the entire book)
  • O'Neil, Dennis. "Nature of Ethnicity". Palomar College. Retrieved 7 January 2013. (the entire book)
  • Seidner,(1982), Ethnicity, Language, and Power from a Psycholinguistic Perspective, pp. 2–3
  • Smith 1987 pp. 21–22

When you think about the statement, this is exactly the sort of grammatically correct, encyclopedically-sounding but completely bland statement that gives Wikipedia a reputation for bad writing, it does not convey anything at all. It says no more than that "ethnic groups are social groups". I am not trying to "contest" this claim, I am simply wondering how it could be turned into something meaningful, and what would actually be found if we consulted the five references cited. --dab (𒁳) 06:09, 17 June 2013 (UTC)

It means that ethnic groups emerge through social and cultural processes by which they create boundaries between themselves and others.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 17:29, 30 August 2013 (UTC)

I wrote half of that sentence and do not know what happen to the rest. I also did half the references and have never heard of the other half. I think the problem is rather undergrads that read one book and then decide to change and add stuff based on one opinion. (talk) 21:07, 24 November 2014 (UTC)

Second paragraph contradicts the first parapgraph[edit]

The second paragraph contradicts the first paragraph.

First paragraph

Ethnicity or ethnic group ...may be based on common cultural heritage, shared ancestry, history, homeland, language or dialect, a... religion, mythology and ritual, cuisine, dressing style, physical appearance, etc.

Second paragraph

Ethnic groups [got through a] period of several generations of endogamy resulting in common ancestry.

First paragraph allows ethnicity to be determined by a number of things; the second paragraph say they are all groups that have married within the group to the point where they have common ancestry.

Chuck Baggett (talk) 15:31, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
You are right, some one inserted a primrdialist understanding of ethnicity as if it were a fact. Which it isn't.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 17:26, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
I think these statement do not exclude each other. The first is comprehensive, while the second focuses on one aspect. Debresser (talk) 17:21, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
They did contradict eachother and the second one simply included false information, namely the idea that ethnic groups usually share common descent. There is no literature to suggest that this is the case.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 18:02, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
This sounds very counter-intuitive to me. See also sources like "and still others may know only that their ancestors were from a particular region of the world or may not know their ethnic origins at all" [1] or "the objective of the question on ancestry is to gain a better understanding of a person's ethnic background" [2], which seem to indicate the opposite of what you claim. Unless by "common descent" you don't mean common ancestry but rather family ties. That seems correct. Debresser (talk) 23:11, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
By the way, not that although endogamy is not a prerequisite for ethnic groups, it is commonly practiced to various degrees in ethnic groups. Debresser (talk) 23:17, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
In the US often "ethnicity" is used to mean the geographic location of one's ancestors, and there is an industry that often claims to be able to tell "ethnicity from ones DNA" which is absurd given that the word "ethnicity" and "ethnic group" was developed in anthropology exactly to refer to the cultural aspects of heritage and identity as opposed to the biological ones. There are no ethnic groups that are defined by DNA or ancestry. There are many that think they are, but in all cases what defines the group is a sense of affinity and common roots that is sometimes expressed in terms of blood. The idea of blood being the definition of ethnicity is basically something that is limited to the US and Nazi Germany - which are the only places where Laws are in place that regulate membership of ethnic groups by blood quantum. SO this is in itself a cultural oddity. (Just think about how odd it is that with one grandparent being classified as Cherokee you can be an Ethnic Cherokee regardless of where your other three grandparents come from, or whether you speak Cherokee or have any knowledge whatsoever of Cherokee history and culture). There are no ethnic groups in the world that are exclusively endogamous (unless they are isolated, which leads to problems in the long run), but very many for which it is the ideal (and there are also ethnic groups that are normatively exogamous). Due to this endogamy there is a higher degree of shared genetic material within ethnic groups. But this is a consequence of the group already existing and practicing endogamy and not something that defines the group. User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 23:39, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
We agree here now. Debresser (talk) 07:49, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

Is Han Chinese the largest ethnic group in the world?[edit]

The problem is, does these Han Chinese share a common language? Some people think they do, some don't. For written language, there are the simplified and traditional Chinese; as for spoken language, there are Mandarin, Hakka, Cantonese, Min-nan, Wu, etc. which some linguists classify them as different languages rather than different dialects. Does the Han Chinese sees themselves as the same ethnicity? Many of them do, but some of them don't. They would consider themselves Taiwanese, Hong Konger, Macanese, Cantonese, Shanghais, etc. - (talk) 13:54, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

Then why do we Cantonese call ourselves Tang ren, or People of the Tang (China) dynasty? Indeed, Cantonese was not fully sinicized during the Han dynasty, but during the Tang dynasty, but does that mean Cantonese are not ethnically Han Chinese? Perhaps it means they are mixture of native Baiyue and ethnic Han Chinese migrants from the Central Plains. Either way, what determines ethnicity is genetic lineage (no doubt Cantonese have ethnic Han Chinese blood, paternal chromosome side) and self-identification.

Deleted plagiarized paragraph[edit]

As the paragraph seemed dubious content wise, when I checked the first refcite and found it led to a dead link, I re-searched and found this page [3] from which the paragraph had been copied verbatim]. I subsquently checked the Wayback machine and found this which includes only one instance of the term "macroethnicity", as follows, in a completely unrelated context to the paragraph in the Wikipedia article.

In the Andes there was genuine concern for the preservation of provisions for which various technologies were valuable. The environment in the middle of which the Andean cultures developed, created a need and a permanent anxiety to possess and store foods. If the means of preservation failed or the number of foods was much reduced, the spectra of hunger appeared and produced the collapse of reciprocity. In other words, the consequence of a shortage could bring disintegration of the State of a macroethnicity.

Since I have subsequently noticed that the webpage in question attributes the information posted thereon to this Wikipedia page, it is not a case of plagiarization. I still find it somewhat that an obscure website supposedly for travelers would contain such material, and I haven't figured out how to find the page from the website itself[4], which seem to be posted apart from all the other content, but that's another story.--Ubikwit 連絡 見学/迷惑 03:13, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

France was not "ethnically homogenous when they attained statehood"[edit]

The statement "...the second case are countries such as France... which were ethnically homogenous when they attained statehood" is not correct. Even nowasays there are in France native ethnic groups that are not French: Basques, Occitans, Catalans... see Ethnic_groups_in_Europe. Furthermore, France should be in the second group: "States such as the United Kingdom and Switzerland comprised distinct... ethnic groups from their formation" (removing the "but closely related" part, which leads to misunderstandings).--Assar (talk) 14:43, 29 March 2014 (UTC) I must say I find this distiction between "homogenous" countries such as Sweden and Germany and multi-ethnic ones like the UK or Switzerland misleading at best. The difference is one of degree, not of kind! Germany certainly comprised different ethnicities (depending on definition of course) from its formation, notably many jews (not many left now), but also Bavarians are arguably ethnically distinct from Prussians, Saxons, Friesian etc. There are certainly differences of degree, but a totally ethnically homogenous nation-state has never existed to my knowledge (Jérôme).

Max Weber[edit]

Someone commented this out:

Among the first to bring the term "ethnic group" into social studies was the German sociologist Max Weber, who defined it as:

[T]hose human groups that entertain a subjective belief in their common descent because of similarities of physical type or of customs or both, or because of memories of colonization and migration; this belief must be important for group formation; furthermore it does not matter whether an objective blood relationship exists.[1]

  1. ^ Max Weber [1922]1978 Economy and Society eds. Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich, trans. Ephraim Fischof, vol. 2 Berkeley: University of California Press, 389

With the comment:

this is nonsense, the term "ethnic group" is from the 1978 translation, not from the 1922 German original.

Unfortunately, this leaves several references to "Weber" in the article unexplained, so we need to make this make sense and put it back in. Perhaps we just need to mention the German word he used? -- Beland (talk) 00:33, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

Weber speaks of "ethnische" Gruppen,[5] "'ethnic' groups". Iblardi (talk) 08:45, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

symbolic system = physical appearance?[edit]

In the second sentence, the article states that physical appearance is a symbolic system; "Membership of an ethnic group tends to be defined by a shared cultural heritage, ancestry, myth of origins, history, homeland, language (dialect), or even ideology, and manifests itself through symbolic systems such as religion, mythology and ritual, cuisine, dressing style, physical appearance, etc." This is clearly not accurate. While language and religion are examples of symbolic systems, physical appearance is not. This should be corrected. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Moslovitch (talkcontribs) 04:52, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Physical appearance is part of the symbolic system because what becomes defining for ethnicity tends to be selectively chosen traits that become symbolic of group membership.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 21:15, 24 November 2014 (UTC)


"Many social scientists, such as anthropologists Fredrik Barth and Eric Wolf, do not consider ethnic identity to be universal. They regard ethnicity as a product of specific kinds of inter-group interactions, rather than an essential quality inherent to human groups.[16]"

[can one 'human group' exist in isolation from other human groups? aren't "inter-group interactions" inevitable? isn't the notion of an 'essential' quality dependent upon how one defines a group in the first place. and isn't the creation of a group dependent upon distinctions from other things/entities/groups?] — Preceding unsigned comment added by Moslovitch (talkcontribs) 05:14, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

That is what people like BArth and Wolf and most subsequent anthropologists have argued. User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 21:13, 24 November 2014 (UTC)

The gallery of personalities from the infobox of articles about ethnic groups[edit]

I invite everybody to post their opinions at Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Ethnic_groups#The_necessity_of_galleries_of_personalities_in_the_infoboxes Hahun (talk) 22:28, 26 November 2015 (UTC)

Other forms of ethnic identities[edit]

Ethnic groups can be anything, and I mean a group of humans who identify with something they share together as a group in society. We have ethnicities based on region (Southern US/Texas and Northern England/Northumbria), language (Francophones or French-Canadians), skin color (Blacks or African-Americans), religion (Jews in Judaism) and church membership (Mormons or the Latter-day Saints church). Deaf American indicates this cultural group identifies with their hearing impairment and they reject the idea deafness is a disability, but a culture known as deaf culture. Some activist adults with autism and Asperger's Syndrome call themselves "Aspies" to indicate they're a cultural group as well. An social or income class like Dalits (outcastes) in India and Burakumin in Japan are treated as cultural groups apart from the higher-classes or the majority of the country population. And nomadic peoples like Irish Travellers have a basis of a self-identified ethnocultural grouping. Adinneli (talk) 20:04, 6 March 2016 (UTC)

Ethnicity and race[edit]

Right now we have "Ethnicity is often assumed to be somewhat more of a cultural identity of a group, often based on shared ancestry, language and cultural tradition, while race is assumed to be strictly a biological classification, " "Somewhat more of a cultural identity"? Are we sure the sources are so tentative? That means, IMHO, "ethnicity is only a bit different to race". And "strictly a biological classification" is stating a pov in Wikipedia's voice. Doug Weller talk 04:48, 3 June 2016 (UTC)

It's based on the sources provided in that paragraph, and in the rest of this article and the article on Race. The two concepts are related, and can refer to the same thing, while often also being different, with ethnicity also referring to cultural traits (sometimes only referring to this) rather than just shared ancestry. Ethnicity sometimes includes racial identities or categorizations (ethno-racial), and has similar features such as identity by appearance or a presumed common descent for many groups. However, race is, according to its respective article, only a biological classification of human beings which is largely "socially constructed". In that article, it is discussed how many scientists now choose to refer to human genetic variation in terms of populations, clines or ethnic groups, instead of racial categories. Veritas2016 (talk) 01:36, 4 June 2016 (UTC)

Thanks. Still a bit confused but I'll leave it at that. Doug Weller talk 16:06, 4 June 2016 (UTC)
It is confusing. That is what often happens with social constructions, especially sensitive ones that are made differently in different countries. Arnoutf (talk) 16:51, 4 June 2016 (UTC)

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