Ethnicity pp 170-191 | Cite as

Politics and Ethnicity

  • Steve Fenton


Power is organised formally and informally and in public and private arenas. The most visible politics are found in constitutional forms, systems of governance, and public, legitimate party and pressure group mobilisation. These are the types of politics with which we are primarily concerned in this and the subsequent chapter. We will be especially concerned with the way in which states give substance to ethnic categories, to the way in which the public conduct of political affairs is expressed in a language of ethnicity, and to the way in which groups organise and advance their interests under a banner of ethnic identity. That is to say we are concerned with:
  • the state and ethnic groups

  • the politics of culture and ethnic ideologies

  • ethnic group mobilisation.

This is not an exhaustive list of the forms which the politics of ethnicity may take. In emphasising the politics of culture we are giving less attention to the analysis of electoral politics, although studies of this kind have contributed a great deal to the understanding of contemporary ethnicities (Husbands 1991b). In democratic political systems the ethnic arithmetic of electoral politics can be crucial to the achievement of ethnic political ends and to the responsiveness of the political system.


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© Steve Fenton 1999

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  • Steve Fenton

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