In the foregoing examinations of the differing characterizations of the state, ethnicity has been depicted as related, variously, to the collapse of traditional authority structures, to the state’s managerial institutions, to the factional rivalries amongst political élites, to regional economic disparities, and to the class structure of society. Clearly, if each or any of these features of the political, social and economic environment were intrinsic to the nature of ethnicity, then the discussion would contain a central inconsistency. It has been argued here, however, that these aspects of the environment are only contingently related to ethnicity; while what is intrinsic to ethnicity is its ideological character—as a psychological and political kinship myth. Both the type of cultural attributes to which this myth attaches, and the kind of economic, political or social mechanisms by which it is engendered are, it has been argued, crucially influenced by the character of the state.
Thus the discussions have had two purposes: to offer explanations of the various patterns of ethnic politics in Southeast Asia, and to explore different models of the state so as to make explicit some of their ethnic implications. The intention has been to narrow the perceived gap, frequently evident in Southeast Asian studies, between the recognition and description of the unique politics of each country, and attempts at comparative and conceptual analysis. The resultant argument has been in two stages: that ethnic consciousness constitutes an emotionally powerful ideological response to the pattern of insecurities generated by the power structure of the state, and therefore that the character of the state constitutes the dominant influence upon the character of ethnic politics. The exploration