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UBC Theses and Dissertations

I tell them we are a blessed people : an analysis of "ethnicity" by way of a Canadian Dutch-Calvinist community Breems, Bradley G.


This dissertation treats ethnicity as cultural construal and ethnic group as the maintenance of social boundaries. It finds that members of ethnic groups maintain institutions and boundaries between themselves and others by which they prescribe and proscribe ideas, behaviour and practice, as well as develop criteria by which they identify, evaluate and judge themselves and others. Members share aspects of culture, a presumed origin and worldview with one another. People externalize their relationships and then maintain boundaries around themselves, using elements from the past, interpreting their present situation and contemplating effects on the future. It also finds that both external opposition and internally generated worldview concepts are sufficient to bring about boundary maintenance and group solidarity and identity. The research on which this work is based combines ethnographic and survey methods in a study of Canadian Dutch-Calvinists. It also incorporates a survey of theories of group phenomena. It finds that theoretical treatments of ethnicity occur at different levels of the ethnic phenomenon, and it presents each of the analytic foci of these various levels. In so doing, it contends that people may belong to groups for varying reasons. In fact, using this case, a group which appears relatively homogeneous, is filled with tension. Some people derive their sense of community from looking to the past; others look forward. Some emphasize traits when trying to determine membership in the group. Others are more concerned about the relational value of the group, not as much with the specific features of membership. Such a group, while threatening to break apart, actually persists because of the mutual member interest in these variations, combined with a commonly maintained antithetical worldview.

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