Ethnicity Counts

Front Cover
Transaction Publishers, 1997 M01 1 - 331 pages
Official statistics about ethnicity in advanced societies are no better than those in less developed countries. An open industrial society is inherently fluid, and it is as hard to interpret social class and ethnic groups there as in a nearly static community. In consequence, the collection and interpretation of ethnic statistics is frequently a battleground where the groups being counted contest each element of every enumeration. William Petersen describes how ethnic identity is determined and how ethnic or racial units are counted by official statistical agencies in the United States and elsewhere. The chapters in this book cover such topics as: "Identification of Americans of European Descent," "Differentiation among Blacks," "Ethnic Relations in the Netherlands," "Two Case Studies: Japan and Switzerland," and "Who is a Jew?"

Petersen argues that the general public is overly impressed by assertions about ethnicity, particularly if they are supported by numbers and graphs. The flood of American writings about race and ethnicity gives no sign of abatement. "Ethnicity Counts" offers an indispensible background to meaningful interpretation of statistics on ethnicity, and will be important to sociologists, historians, policymakers, and government officials.


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From what I can see from a limited preview of this book, this author knows nothing about Indian society. I was interested in a discussion of the actual "ethnicities" of India:
Assamese, Bengali
, Bihari, Oriya, Gujarati, Hindustani (basically the central-northern "Hindu heartland"), Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayali, Marathi, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Tamil, Telegu
These ethnicities are the least he should be mentioning. How exactly he looked past the obvious and got into a discussion about castes and Anglo-Indians is a mystery to me. I will probably read the book to me, but when I see a lack of perception judging from a passage upon which I myself am familiar, I will have to doubt Petersen's scholarship on other ethnicities before I risk letting him confuse and mislead me on other topics. What a disappointment.


Toward the End of Ethnicity?
Concepts of Ethnicity
American Politics and the Measurement of Ethnicity
Identification of Americans of European Descent
Differentiation among Blacks
Who is an American Indian?
The Creation of Hispanics
Americans of Asian Stocks
Ethnic Relations in the Netherlands
Two Case Studies Japan and Switzerland
Who is a Jew?
Ethnicity in the New Nations of the PostColonial World
The Conglomeration that is India

Some European Nations and Subnations
A Comparison of American Blacks and Belgian Flemings

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About the author (1997)

William Petersen is Robert Lazarus Professor of Social Demography Emeritus at Ohio State University and is known throughout the profession as a leading demographer. His work has appeared in Population and Development Review, Annual Review of Sociology, and Demography.

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