minority and ethnic relations

What do we mean by the social construction of identity?
Any attempt to compare the suffering of the blacks and Jews would seem likely to be felled by the waves of invidious comparisons. That is because any such comparison is likely to be seen, however obliquely, as an endeavour to answer the question: which group has suffered more- blacks or Jews? Indicatively, this question could be perceived to address the point of not who suffered more, but why did they suffer? This can be answered in relation to the social construction of identity. The Jews and Blacks identities were socially identified and regarded by others as not belonging to the majority group during that historical period. So what do we mean when we talk about the social construction of identity?
The concept of "identity" has always been blurred but in recent years, the study of identity has been greatly enhanced by cross-cultural studies in history, sociology, anthropology and psychology. The key point of departure for much discussion is the'real world' observation that nationalist, regional, racial and ethnic mobilisations are occurring globally and pervasively (Cohen, 1994). However, at the same time, within national, racial or regional units of identification, there are other kinds of groupings that are organised often on the social axes of age, gender, class, religion, race or disability that form their own identity. These too are claiming rights or advantages in the name of their particular social affiliation.
Before we can begin to understand the social constructions of identity we need to analyse how and why these identities come to be assimilated in our society?
Although identity construction may occur in any part of a society through social change and circumstance and of human interpretation and action, it must be noted that social construction occurs contingently upon the situation in which the groups find themselves: the context …


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