Ethnicity and Class
                Pierre L. van Den Berghe
    Throughout the world, the practical import of ethnicity is intimately linked with the unequal distribution of power and wealth.  Put in different terms, the relationship between ethnicity and class constitutes the key to an understanding of ethnic conflicts.  The rather embarrassing lack of success of social scientist in grappling with problems of ethnicity at the theoretical and, even less, at the practical level, may be explained in part by our intellectual heritage.
    Until recently, anthropologists tended to study ethnic groups in isolation from each other, and hence to neglect the field of ethnic RELATIONS.  In sociology, ethnic relations have long been studied, but the functionalist mainstrean in the United States largly failed to put ethnic relations in their political and economic context, and thus failed to understand the nature of ethnic conflicts.  In the Marxian tradition scant attention has been devoted to ethnicity,except as a policy problem.
    The emergence or resurgence of micronationalisms, and the bitter conflicts to which they led have challenged social scientist to deal with what a number of us have called plural societies.

Parameters of ethnic relations
1.  Ethnicity and class are interrelated but ANALYTICALLY DISTINCT phenonmena.  The fact that different social classes most commonly show subcultural differences and, conversely, that ethnic groups living under a common government are more often than not ordered in a hierachy of power, wealth, and status does not make class reducible to ethnicity, or ethnicity to class.
2.  The specific relationship between class and ethnicity and the relative importance of each are empirical questions to be answere in every particular case.  One must, therefore, be wary of any schemes which, from an a priori theoretical position, attribute a paramount role to either.
3.  Ethnicity is both an objective and a subjective phenomenon, the interrelation between these two aspects being, once again, and empirical question.  Any conception of ethnicity which reduces either the objective or the subjective side of it to an insignificant role distorts reality.  Ethnic groups are defined BOTH by the objective cultural modalities of their behavior (including most importantly their linguistic behavior) and by their subjective views of themselves and each other.
4.  Ethnic conflicts, like calss conflicts, result from the unequal distribution of, and competition for, scarce resources.  Class and ethnic conflicts are frequentley found simultaneously in the same society, but the lines of ethnic and class cleavages are often not the same.

Example Puruvians
1.  Peru is both class-stratified and ethnically diverse.
2. There are great regional and even local variations in patterns of ethnic relations.
3.  Physical criteria of group membership, while not totally absent, are clearly secondary to sociocultural criteria.
4.  Ethnic boundaries between mestizos and Indians are fluid, with considerable intergenerational movement into the mestizo group.
5.  Objective indices of ethnic membership are extremely bariable from region to region and from situation to situation and, even in combination, can lead only to loose probabilistic statements.  Even language is weakly diacritic, due to the extensive degree of bilingualism in the Highlands of both mestizos and Indians.
6.  Ethnic boundaries to a considerabe extent are defined subjectively, relatively, and situationally, rather than objectively and absolutely.  Even at the local level, there is seldom consensual agreement as to who belons to what ethnic group.  The same terms can be used with a wide variety of meanings and of referents.  There are, in most cases, no easily identifiable ethnic groups.
7.  There is such a considerable degree of overlap between class and ethnic status that frequently it is difficult ot disentangle the effect of each; but it is also clear that neither class nor ethnicity can be discounted, and that ethnic and class-bgased disabilities tend to be cumulative.