migration, ethnic conflicts, and racism 3013

Other theorists have emphasized the notion of
mobilization, collective actions, and solidarity
for articulating common group interest and
achieving aims such as political, cultural, or
material gains. In this respect, ethnic struggle
should be conceptualized as an important
resource and a powerful instrument to actualize
group interests. Thus, ethnicity helps people to
create a self understanding, thereby forming
a distinct identity in relation to other groups,
and furthermore helps them to define and
struggle for their own place and identity in a
globalized world.
Despite theoretical disagreements, most
scholars consider the notion of ethnic conflicts
to be treated as a complex phenomenon. A
framework should take into consideration the
interplay between economic, historical, and
cultural dimensions. The majority of theories
have overcome the modernistic view on ethnic
conflicts as a transitory occurrence. The recent
debate is influenced by anti essentialist think
ing. In this respect, ethnic conflicts must be
conceptualized as a relational concept including
self identifications and social ascription. The
analysis also should reflect how discourses
such as academic, media, everyday, or political
discourses emerge and heighten ethnic topics.
Ethnic conflicts mostly use images of blood,
kinship, homeland, and common ancestry. In
this respect, the concept of ethnic conflict is
connected to the understanding of racism.
While racism on a micro level refers to a set
of practices, beliefs, and attitudes of everyday
cultures, the phenomenon is often treated on a
macro level as an ideology, discourse, or marker
of social stratification. Sociological interest in
racism has developed over time into a broad
body of studies, especially related to migration
issues. Similar to ethnic conflicts, racism is a
highly debated and also contested topic. There
are a great number of accounts in which racist
practices and ideologies have been conceptua
lized. Some theorists emphasize that the way
scholars should theorize and define racism
should take into consideration its empirical
appearance in specific historical settings. Stuart
Hall (1989: 917) suggested referring not to one
single racism but to empirical racisms.
The word racism was first used in a book
written by Magnus Hirschfeld (1938). The
term racism was applied to criticize and refute
scientific racism during the eighteenth and nine
teenth centuries. In this respect, racism is
related to the category of race. During this per
iod, race was used as a category to classify
human beings into unchanging, natural, and
distinct groups. The historical scientific concept
of race claimed a strict relationship between
biological, moral, and intellectual characteristics
of human groups. The use of the category race
led to a hierarchical classification of human
types that made it possible to distinguish them
into superior and inferior racial groups.
After World War II and the experience of
German fascism, during the 1950s and 1960s
UNESCO initiated four meetings where repu
table theorists discussed the explanatory value of
the category race. The result was the rejection of
scientific racism. Since then, a growing number
of theories of racism have dealt with race as a
social construction.
The modern sociology of racism offers a
broad range of topics regarding the persistence
of racial categories, their influence on stratifica
tion, and institutional practices as well as the
process of racialization, which describes how
groups became naturalized. Sociologists also
deal with the question of how the relationship
and interplay between racism and related issues
such as race, class, gender, ethnicity, and nation
can be theorized.
Early Marxist approaches maintained that
racism and ethnic identities could be explained
by the dynamics of capitalism. Race was treated
comparatively to class as a subordinated cate
gory, and furthermore as a transitory occur
rence. The capitalist class used racism firstly as
an ideological strategy to avoid class solidarity
between working class blacks and whites. Dis
tracting working class attention from the reality
of class exploitation, racism leads secondly to a
delusion of class consciousness. Critics of the
above emphasize the reductionist tendency and
its affinity to modernization theory because of
its teleological imagination from a classless
Recent decades have witnessed new forms
of racism and new extreme right primordial
ism. With the collapse of communism there
emerged nationalist movements, which were
accompanied by racist attacks and violence.