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A Theory of the Origin of Ethnic Stratification

Donald L. Noel
Social Problems
Vol. 16, No. 2 (Autumn, 1968), pp. 157-172
DOI: 10.2307/800001
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/800001
Page Count: 16
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A Theory of the Origin of Ethnic Stratification
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Abstract

Ethnocentrism, competition, and differential power provide the necessary and sufficient bases for constructing a theory of the origin of ethnic stratification. The essence of the theory is that ethnic stratification will emerge when distinct ethnic groups are brought into sustained contact only if the groups are characterized by a high degree of ethnocentrism, competition, and differential power. Competition provides the motivation for stratification; ethnocentrism channels the competition along ethnic lines; and the power differential determines whether either group will be able to subordinate the other. The theory is initially tested via application to the emergence of slavery in seventeenth century America. The outcome encourages further testing of the theory.

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