ABSTRACT

The foundational understanding of ethnicity provided by Max Weber examined in the previous chapter provides the basis for moving on to examine contemporary debates and evidence in this chapter. For Weber, ethnic groups are those which have a belief in common descent arising from either collective memories of colonisation and migration, collective customs, physical similarities or all three. Also ethnic groups are marked out by a range of dimensions of ethnicity including common language, the ritual regulation of life and shared religious beliefs. The scale and significance of ethnicity and related conflict across the globe is of major social significance as it is the ‘leading source of violence in international affairs’ (Esman 2004: 26). In this chapter we firstly examine the conceptualisation of ethnicity, a range of theoretical and sociological approaches to ethnicity and the nature of ethnic relations. Secondly, to ground these argu-

ments we look closely at the operation of ethnicity in the UK. Here the development of ethnic diversity and ‘super’-diversity are explored, together with examination of the ways in which ethnicity is surveyed and measured and how ethnic identities have developed, changed and been studied. Lastly, we consider the state of the art of ethnicity research in the UK and identify both what we know and what we have yet to understand and find out.