Approaches to developing an improved cross-national understanding of concepts and terms relating to ethnicity and race

Aspinall, Peter J. (2007) Approaches to developing an improved cross-national understanding of concepts and terms relating to ethnicity and race. International Sociology, 22 (1). pp. 41-70. ISSN 0268-5809. (Access to this publication is restricted)

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Abstract

Investigators from the fields of comparative social and epiden-dological research have identified the need for an improved cross-national understanding of the concepts and terms relating to ethnicity and race. Suggestions have included the harmonization in surveys of variables like ethnicity and religion in a comparative European context and an internationally applicable and agreed glossary of terms relating to ethnicity and race. Pleas have been entered for work towards such goals, involving statistical offices and institutions in the European Union and bodies like the World Health Organization and International Epidemiological Association. This article examines how the conceptual bases of this terminology, issues of geographical specificity and the problem of which terms merit recognition impact on these goals. Different approaches to improving our understanding of this terminology in a cross-national context are explored. Given that the meanings of concepts and terms in the field of ethnicity and race invariably can only be understood in their national context of use - which is frequently layered, manifold, subtle and complex - an approach that explores the connotative reach of the different concepts and terms within this context is needed. Functional equivalence is more likely to be achieved by harmonization than the systematization of such knowledge through the economical form of a glossary of synthetic analytical terminology. However, given the socially and psychologically driven nature of ethnicity as a 'global' concept, harmonization may only be successful when limited to its multiple dimensions.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: census; concept; ethnicity; race; terminology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Sociology
Depositing User: Katie Edwards
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2007 19:31
Last Modified: 08 May 2014 08:07
Resource URI: http://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/2164 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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