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Ethnicity and the Classification of Social Differences in Plural Societies

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The management of ethnicity in highly plural societies continues to be a major social problem worldwide. One country that has achieved an excellent record of interethnic relations is Singapore. This paper deals with the ethnic situation in Singapore, modes of official and unofficial racial classifiation, questions of the situational selection of ethnic identity, and the relevance of the Singapore model for other multi-ethnic societies. In particular the paper develops a model for the exploration of ethnic identity using the six dimensions of family structure, majority/minority statuses, political economy, modernization, alternative modes of social stratification and national ideology. This points not only to an explanation of the Singapore case, but also to the generation of a more generally applicable set of analytical categories for exploring contemporary ethnicity.


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Affiliations: 1: National University of Singapore, Kent Ridge,. Singapore


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