Ethnic and Racial Minorities in Advanced Industrial Democracies

Ethnic and Racial Minorities in Advanced Industrial Democracies

Ethnic and Racial Minorities in Advanced Industrial Democracies

Ethnic and Racial Minorities in Advanced Industrial Democracies


This is a new comparative collection of essays on ethnic and racial minorities that shows there is a common ground shared by those in advanced industrial democracies that differentiates them from Third World and communist countries. The study offers a unique synthesis of diverse views by those who have studied long-established or ethnoregional minorities and those who have focused on recent immigrant populations. The analysis considers why ethnic and racial conflict and disadvantage endure. It points to ways that societies are organized economically and politically and linked into the international political economy.


Anthony M. Messina and Luis R. Fraga

Among the most perplexing dilemmas confronting the advanced industrial democracies are those that spring from the persistence of conflict among their majority populations and ethnic and racial minorities. Problems of economic disadvantage, political equality, and social harmony continue to exist in virtually all these societies, despite the construction of various constitutional settlements, power-sharing agreements among ethnic communities, and the enactment, in many countries, of anti-discrimination and equal opportunity statutes since the early 1960s. The persistence of ethnic and racial conflict raises an obvious question: Is such conflict a permanent feature of the advanced industrial democracies?

The origins of minorities in these societies are certainly varied (Heckman 1983, 12-21). Ethnoregional and ethnoterritorial minorities in Belgium, Canada, Spain, and Switzerland, for example, were long-established and often politically autonomous prior to the founding of the modern state. African Americans in the United States, on the other hand, were forcibly transplanted to North America as a result of the seventeenth- and eighteenth- century slave trade. In contemporary Britain and France, former colonial peoples are relatively recent immigrants who are part of the legacy of overseas empire and post-WWII decolonization. Moreover, most recently settled, and often without the rights of full citizenship or permanent residence, are various Third World minorities in countries such as Austria, France, the Netherlands, the United States, and Germany. Most of these new minorities were actively recruited by governments and private employers during the 1950s, 1960s, and the early 1970s to satisfy the demand for cheap, unskilled labor in the booming economies of the advanced industrial democracies (Castles and Kosack 1973).

Although the various minority groups in the advanced industrial democracies can be differentiated on the basis of their origins and, therefore, by the timing of their entrance into the economic, political, and social hierarchies . . .

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