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By Steve Fenton

This article discusses key debates within the sociology of ethnicity and race, arguing that ethnicity is culturally expressed and politically and economically contextualised. The historic trajectories of slavery, colonialism and geographical region formation have noticeable ethnicities and racisms improve alongside a few parallel, and a few really varied, strains. Drawing on examples from all over the globe, together with Britain, Continental Europe, the us, Hawaii and Malaysia, this e-book deals a theoretically educated account of an immense sociological factor in a really overseas and comparative viewpoint.

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Since these colonial regimes did not institute democratic institutions based on a universal franchise, there was no need to attempt to create a universal form of citizenship or to create cultural homogeneity, in the way that Weber (1976) and Gellner (1983) have argued was an impulse of modernising Western democracies. The colonial society was therefore composed of discrete groupings whose differences of custom, culture and language - as well as, usually, function within the division of labour - were conserved with no serious attempt being made towards cultural or institutional integration (see Smith 1965, Jenkins 1997, Rex 1997).

The recurrent feature of all these economic contexts of ethnicity is a more or less predictable and clear identification of ethnic classification with economic function. In the USA, Africans were enslaved to carry out plantation field labour, in Fiji, Indians were imported to tend the cane fields, as were Japanese, Chinese and Filipinos in Hawai'i, and in the Caribbean, parts of Indonesia and what is now Malaysia, the Chinese formed a class of traders and shopkeepers. It is these and comparable examples which are explored in Chapters 4 and 5 of this volume.

Their very availability as workers affects wage rates and employment in Germany, for without them labour would have been scarcer. If, as the report suggests, German managers are relatively easily able to travel to and fro to manage the affairs of the new plant, this will mean that predominantly Czech workers within the Republic will be managed by German managers; in other words the line of authority difference is also a line of ethnic difference (Gellner 1983). The economic context here is the search for cheaper labour by an international German commodity producer which sells its products (glassware, 'Europe's largest makers of specialised glass') in the world's markets.

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