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Ethnic Boundary Making: Institutions, Power, Networks (Oxford Studies in Culture and Politics)

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Ethnic Boundary Making: Institutions, Power, Networks (Oxford Studies in Culture and Politics).pdf | Language: English

Why does ethnicity matter in certain societies and contexts but not in others? Drawing on the boundary-making perspective first championed by anthropologist Fredrick Barth, Andreas Wimmer introduces a comparative analytic of ethnic group formation. He analyzes how and why ethnic boundaries are sometimes associated with inequality and exclusion, with political salience and public debate, with enduring loyalty and thick identities, while in other cases ethnicity and race do not structure the allocation of resources, invite little political passion, and represent only secondary aspects of individual identity. Wimmer argues that three key mechanisms influence the dynamics and consequences of ethnic boundary-making: institutional incentives , the distribution of power between individuals, and the reach of pre-existing social networks.

Cautioning against seeing ethnicity wherever one looks, Wimmer argues for disentangling ethnic and non-ethnic group formation processes and proposes a set of research designs, analytical principles, and strategies of interpretation appropriate for the task. Several qualitative and quantitative studies then apply this agenda : on how local residents in immigrant neighborhoods draw symbolic boundaries against each other, on the ethnic and racial composition of friendship networks, and how ethnic closure influences cultural values. By overcoming essentialist approaches to ethnicity while avoiding the pitfalls of excessive constructivism, Ethnic Boundary Making offers a new perspective on a topic of vital interest to sociologists, anthropologists, and ethnic studies scholars.

"Ethnic Boundary Making has the makings of a classic. The author takes on a vast and important topic, provides a bold and ambitious theoretical agenda, and engages in theory development by convincingly confronting his hypotheses with data of various kinds. As he goes along, Wimmer explains the implications of his findings for a wide range of theories and debates in sociology and beyond, engaging with the best and the brightest in the multi-disciplinary literatures on ethno-racial divisions, immigration and citizenship, and group formation. This ambitious book will surely leave its mark and be widely debated." -Michele Lamont, author of The Dignity of Working Men: Morality and the Boundaries of Race, Class, and Immigration Andreas Wimmer is Professor of Sociology and Faculty Associate of Politics at Princeton University. His research is aimed at understanding the dynamics of nation-state formation, ethnic boundary making and political conflict from a comparative perspective. He is author of Nationalist Exclusion and Ethnic Conflicts: Shadows of Modernity (Cambridge, 2002) and Waves of War: Nationalism and Ethnic Politics in the Modern World (Cambridge 2012) and his articles have been published by the American Journal of Sociology, the American Sociological Review, World Politics, Sociological Theory and Ethnic and Racial Studies, among others. Professor Wimmer's work has won best article awards from the Comparative Historical, Political, Cultural, and Theory sections of the American Sociological Association as well as the Thyssen Prize for Best Article in the Social Sciences.

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Book details

  • PDF | 304 pages
  • Oxford University Press; 1 edition (January 17, 2013)
  • English
  • 7
  • Politics & Social Sciences

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Review Text

  • By Mike for real on April 12, 2016

    Andreas Wimmer offers a rigorous critique of the remainders of essentialism in the sociological study of ethnicity. It pushes for a more thorough constructivist perspective that not only takes seriously its critics but also its own claims. Ethnic Boundary Making is not a text meant to explain everything about ethnicity but instead to serve as a call to arms for researchers, intellectuals, and lay people invested in the field. Even if you disagree with Wimmer's perspective, his framework is thorough and has made waves within the literature. A recommended read for anyone invested in Sociology, Anthropology, Ethnic Studies, or simply living in a boundary-defined world.

  • By Guest on May 30, 2015

    Simply awful. This is tone-deaf, condescending, self-congratulatory drivel parading as exegisis, at least where it pertains to an analysis of contemporary race relations, particularly but not exclusively in a U.S. context. Sets the field back 30 years.


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