Constructivist Theories of Ethnic Politics

By Kanchan Chandra | Go to book overview

7
Modeling the Evolution of Ethnic
Demography

A. MAURITS VAN DER VEEN AND DAVID D. LAITAN


1. Introduction

How do ethnic demographies evolve? Chandra and Boulet have demonstrated the incredibly large range of possible activated ethnic demographies given any set of attributes in a population. However, their theory is one of combinatorial possibilities at some fixed point in time, not one of dynamics. They do not investigate the rules and possibilities of change from one activated demography to another within the same society over time. Nor do they investigate the dynamic relationship between activated ethnic demographies and the underlying structure that generates them, or the evolution of structural ethnic demographies within the same society over time.

This chapter builds upon the conceptual framework established by Chandra and Boulet, and from it constructs an agent-based model that provides a method to study the dynamics of change in an ethnic demography, both activated and structural. The term “activated ethnic demography” refers to the set and size of activated ethnic identity categories for a population (Chandra and Boulet, Chapter 6). The term “structural” ethnic demography refers to the attributes and dimensions in a population and the nominal categories that can be generated from them, regardless of whether or not they are, or can be, activated.1

Earlier versions of this chapter were presented at a workshop in August 2003 and at the Ninth World Conference of the Association for the Study of Nationalities, Columbia University, April 2004. We thank Ian Lustick for his inspiration for this research project. We thank as well David Epstein for his comments at that workshop, and all members of the Laboratory of Comparative Ethnic Processes (LiCEP) for their criticism and support.

1 In this chapter as well as in Chapter 9, the term “attribute” refers to an attribute-value and the term “dimension” refers to an attribute-dimension, unless otherwise specified.

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