The Importance of Being Ethnic: A Study of Ethnic Optionality amongst Swedish Second and Third Generation European Immigrants
Sammanfattning: This Bachelor’s thesis examines the individual motivations behind shaping an ethnic identity in order to become interesting to oneself and others. Through understanding how people shape an ethnic identity, what values lie beneath, and placing it into the context of postmodern demands on the identity, this study argues that an ethnic identity may serve a purpose of generating cultural capital and social status. This study thus works as a contribution to the notion of symbolic ethnicity. Scholars on the matter, most notably Gans (1979) Waters (1990) and Alba (1990), have previously treated the prevalence of ethnic identities amongst white third and later generations of European descent, as outcomes of American assimilation process. Ethnic optionality is thus according to their findings, a sign of vanishing salience in diversity among European ethnic groups, that earlier organized much of social life. I argue, however, that the meaning of shaping an ethnic identity, functions as a value creation process for the personality, in an era, whose forces demand uniqueness of the individual.
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