Plural society

Plural society

A plural society is defined by Fredrik Barth as a society combining ethnic contrasts: the economic interdependence of those groups, and the ecological specialization (i.e., use of different environmental resources by each ethnic group). The ecological interdependence, or the lack of competition, between ethnic groups may be based on the different activities in the same region or on long–term occupation of different regions in the same nation–state. In Barth’s view, ethnic boundaries are most enduring and stable when groups occupy different ecological niches; simply, they make their living in different ways and don’t compete. When different ethnic groups exploit the same ecological niche, the militarily more powerful group will normally replace the weaker one. However, if the weaker group is better able to use marginal environments, the two groups could also coexist. Ethnic boundaries, distinctions, and interdependence can be maintained given niche specialization, although specific cultural features of each group may change.

Defined by J S Furnivall as a medley of peoples - European, Chinese, Indian and , who do mix but do not combine. Each group holds by its own religion, its own culture and language, its own ideas and ways. As individuals they meet, but only in the marketplace in buying and selling. There is a plural society, with different sections of the community living side by side, within the same political unit.

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