Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Robert H. Bates
Understanding ethnicity is a challenge for political science. How is the good polity to deal with cultural differences: Should it insist that each individual be treated “equally,” or should it take note of cultural variation and ethnic diversity? These questions pose challenges for normative theorists. Equally compelling are the challenges posed for students of development, a subfield in which the study of ethnicity looms large. Although there are many things that “development” can denote, this discussion limits it to two: economic prosperity and political security. Ethnicity plays an ambivalent role with respect to each, it would appear, promoting private accumulation but inhibiting public investment and multiplying opportunities for peaceful bargaining while also provoking bloodshed and violence. Even within a discussion so narrowly framed, the relationships between ethnicity and development are complex. This entry discusses these relationships from a political economy perspective. The formation of capital underpins the growth of prosperity. ...