Ethnic Segmentation as the Unintended Result of Intentional Action

  • Hartmut Esser


The substantive object of this contribution and the definition of the collective characteristic to be studied here are simple to describe: the ethnic segmentation as a certain kind of selectivity of social relations. Ethnic segmentation is considered to be present where persons of differing ethnicity can be shown to choose, from among the various options open to them (for interaction, economic activity, identification etc.), that alternative which is orientated to ethnic criteria, and to do so more often than would be predicted given random choice. The methodological peculiarity is also quite clear: segmentation is undoubtably a collective phenomenon. In most cases segmentation occurs with such an inevitability (for example, race-relations cycles) that one really could speak of there being an ‘iron law’ at work i.e. the social process involved takes its course even if it runs contrary to the declared intentions of the individuals involved and is thus ‘inevitable’ and ‘irreversible’. The present contribution concerns itself with the individualistic reconstruction of ethnic segmentation as an — under certain conditions — ‘inevitable’ result of intentional actions of individuals.


Host Country Migrant Worker Social Distance Intentional Action Decision Structure 
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Copyright information

© Physica-Verlag Heidelberg Wien 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hartmut Esser
    • 1
  1. 1.Methoden und Analysen (ZUMA) e.V.Zentrum für UmfragenMannheimGermany

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