Plural but equal: Group identity and voluntary integration*: Jennifer Roback

Social Philosophy and Policy 8 (2):60-80 (1991)
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Abstract

During this period, when disciples were growing in number, a grievance arose on the part of those who spoke Greek, against those who spoke the language of the Jews; they complained that their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution. When Americans think of ethnic conflict, conflict between blacks and whites comes to mind most immediately. Yet ethnic conflict is pervasive around the world. Azerbijanis and Turks in the Soviet Union; Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland; Arabs and Jews in the Middle East; Maoris and English settlers in New Zealand; Muslims and Hindus in India and Pakistan; French and English speakers in Quebec; Africans, Afrikaaners, and mixed-race people in South Africa, in addition to the tribal warfare among the Africans themselves: these are just a few of the more obvious conflicts currently in the news. We observe an even more dizzying array of ethnic conflicts if we look back just a few years. Japanese and Koreans; Mongols and Chinese; Serbs and Croats; Christians and Buddhists in Viet Nam: these ancient antagonisms are not immediately in the news, but they could erupt at any time. And the history of the early Christian Church recounted in the Acts of the Apostles reminds us that suspicion among ethnic groups is not a modern phenomenon; rather, it is ancient. The present paper seeks to address the problem of ethnic conflict in modern western democracies. How can our tools and traditions of participatory governments, relatively free markets, and the common law contribute to some resolution of the ancient problems that we find within our midst? In particular, I want to focus here on the question of ethnic integration.

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