culture is not a real thing, but an abstract and purely analytical notion (Baumann, 1996: 11). ethnicity, race and nation are not things in the world but perspectives on the world; ways of seeing, interpreting and representing the social world(Brubaker, 2005: 17)
If we feel we have a unified identity… it is only because we construct a comforting story or narrative of the self about ourselves… The fully unified, completed, secure and coherent identity is a fantasy (Hall, 1992: 277).
Reification, homogenisation and essentialism are a characteristic of: - European official and political discourses of multiculturalism (Schierrup 199X, Ulf Hedetoft, Vertovec 1995 and Baumann 1996 and 1999) -some forms of black politics (Gilroy, 1992, 2000) - of Muslim political fundamentalism (Yuval- Davis, 1992 and Al-Azmeh 1993) - and of US racial discourses (Hollinger, 1995).
What Exists? 1. Groups can be real as well as individuals; and ethnicity has not a lower ontological status than class or gender. 2. Groupness does not presuppose essences; and so denial of essences does not mean denial of the existence of groups.
Who Essentialises? 3. We can know that there is a group, or talk about groups in practice, without being theoretically clear about what is a group. Hence the coherence of a group is neither a fiction nor an essence.
Multi-Dimensionality 4. It is true that we cannot understand group dynamics, group behaviour, group mobilisation etc simply by reference to internal factors – but nor simply by external factors. Emphasis should be on complexity, contingency, open-endness of social phenomena – and on emprical inquiry.
All Change? 5. There are new ethnicities, hybridity etc but there is also aspects of old ethnicity - in any case, some people value an identity with few salient features and they are not stupid to do so.
Muslim v British Muslim 37% British 3% British Muslim 54% Other 6% Source: Guardian/ICM June, 2002