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Name: Muhammad Syukhri bin Shafee Matriculation Number: 214783 Choice of Question: 3 Title of Essay: Theories of Ethnicity: Primordialist

Approach and Instrumentalist Approach. Introduction In this world, there are so many types of ethnic and different each other. When we talk about ethnicity, many of us will think about the tradition of some group of ethnic. For example, the cloths, language, food, physical, attitude and their origin. But some scholars were argued that actually all of these example are not relevant yet because sometimes it not related each other. Hence, now day people not only depend on language, cloths and physical term to identify their ethnic identity. Normally, when we talk about the ethnicity , there are so many things we heard regarding this issue. For the scholar whose studies in this area, generally they have two main school of thought will discuss about ethnicity. Those theory is primordialist approach and the instrumentalist approach. This paper will compare and explain more detail about those theories which is popular recently. Not only that, the example also will be provided to make more easy to understanding in this topic.

Comparison Between Primordialist Approach and Instrumentalist Approach The first approach we will discuss is the primordialist approach. This approach opinion regarding to ethnicity as a collective identity deeply rooted in historical experience or biological traits1. This school of thought believe that the number of people are growth in certain group, then form different various clans and ethnics later on. Basically, primordialists argued that human beings had usually been form in group with primordial characteristics that had given since they was born2. It mean that, the identity of someone will be detected by identified their established through fraternity and ancestry. Scholar from this school of thought stand up with their opinion which is identity of ones group cannot be change and it feet forever until the end of their life. This opinion so popular until now. The second approach is Instrumentalist Approach. Scholar in this school of thought have different opinion regarding ethnicity. They believe that identity or ethnic of someone can be change. For some reason such as political or economic reason or self-interest, they can change their identity or ethnic to get benefit. When someone have to choose their ethnic identity, they will choose which one choice had give more advantage. If the ethnicity of that group give less advantage to him/her on economics or politics aspect, that person will choose other ethnic identity to gain the objective.

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Persons, G, A. (1999). Race and Ethnicity in Comparative Perspective. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers. Wan Zulaikha binti Wan Hanafi. (2012). Ethnic Identity Is In The Between of Primordial and Instrumentalist . th Retrieved on 5 October 2013, from

The Argument of Primordialist Approach and Instrumentalist Approach. The debating between scholars belong to primordialist approach and scholars from instrumentalist approach always happen when discusses about how to identify the ethnicity of someone. Both of them have different opinion and concept about this issue. But until now, it now clear and easy to make final result. For scholars belong to primordialist approach, they believe that if someone was born from the one particular ethnic group, it clear prove for that person to identify their ethnic identity. It is because that person heritage the same characteristics from their previous generation. For example, the if their ancestor are from Chinese ethnic group identity, it mean that person also must belong to Chinese ethnic group. According to them, that identity cant be change forever and ever. But for instrumentalists scholars at the same time have another opinion. They argued that in the reality, sometimes ethnic identity are not identify through what primordialists scholar said. it is because have certain group of people identify of their self with other angle. They prefer to identify their identity by choose the most beneficial ethnic identity that can give maximum advantage. The best example in Malaysian context is about bumiputera status. Bumiputera status is status where the citizen will get more benefit from government in term of loan, quota for university intake every years and discount for some goods. But, to get all of this amenities, that Malaysian citizen must from origin group, which is Malay, Kadazan-Dusun, Melanau, Bajau, Iban, Murut and etc. if you are not from this group, you cant relish those amenities.

That why, some people from other different ethnic group like Chinese and Indian, when they married with Bumiputera ethnic group, they will make sure that, their child get bumiputera status. It is easier for their child at the future to get all amenities that I just mention before. It is normal situation in Malaysia. They will enjoy their amenities especially in term of economic and politics. It all about interest and survival at the future. Normally, the minority group in some countries will use this way to get benefit that enjoyed by majority group. in other word, minority group will act according to the situation in countries that they staying or living3. During the war, someone also can change their identity to prevent something happen to them. For example, some ethnic group in countries like Angola, Nigeria, Sudan, and Ethiopia. They are under pressure because their ethnic were discriminated by minority group (ethnic)4. The primordialist group reply back, even if that person can change their physical identity with throw out all their identity and convert new identity, but they cannot forgot who there are and which ethnic suppose they belong too. From that angle, they cannot be change their own real identity.

Hechter, Michael and Dina Okamoto (2001), Political Consequences of Minority Group Formation, Annual Reviews of Political Sciences, 4, 189215. 4 Tarimo, A. (2008). Politicization of Ethnic Identities and the Common Good in Kenya . Retrieved 6th October 2013, from

Conclusion The differences between primordialist approach and the instrumentalist approach in term of give view regarding ethnicity, could not be avoided until now. It is because they have different view regarding this issue since long time ago. Those two theories came with different concept and formula how to defined that kind of ethnicity. The differences between primordialist approach and instrumentalist approach are normal because in any theories existence always have the other theories where will disagree with the early theories. Maybe we can decide to choose which one to apply in our daily live for easier make differences between one ethnic with another ethnic. Moreover, it also will easier for us to identify which group ethnicity are someone belong to. Ma ybe the best way to identify someone belonging to which group of ethnicity is by asking that person own self. They will give the answer which group their belong to.