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Ethnic Conflicts in the USA

The problem of ethnic conflicts in recent decades is one of the most relevant topics for researchers, sociologists and politicians in the USA. The main reason for such close attention to this issue lies in the difficulties of resolution and prevention of conflicts of this kind, which also became one of the most common sources of social conflict and political instability. Most of the currently existing ethnic conflicts in the USA can be identified as an ethno-religious and territorial.

The United States is the country with many ethnic groups. The “Harvard encyclopedia of ethnic groups in America,” gives a list of 106 major groups in the United States, including Native Americans, Albanians, African-Americans, Arabs, Burmese, Greeks, Jews, Irish, Italians, Chinese, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Filipinos, Swiss and Eskimos. In fact, there are many more groups. (United States Census Bureau 2000)

Over 300 years the arrival in the United States of various ethnic groups was associated with the struggle for existence and the opportunity to become an equal participant in American life. The social situation of many immigrant groups has been gradually changing: initially they were treated with contempt as outsiders, but gradually they began to participate fully in social and economic life, but not all of them, and many other groups still have to pass this way. Some ethnic groups suffer from their disadvantage, because they can not participate freely in some areas of professional and cultural life of America. Poverty and unequal conditions often make it difficult for Black Americans and Puerto Ricans to get special skills and proper education for better paid jobs. Racial prejudice and discrimination against blacks, Chinese and Native Americans often lead to the fact that members of these ethnic groups have to live and work in very narrow socio-economic framework. Recent immigrants from Latin America, such as Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, are also experiencing discrimination, related to their ethnicity. (United States Census Bureau 2000)

Thus, the U.S. population is very heterogeneous in ethnic, racial, linguistic and religious relations. From a legal point of view, countries must ensure the effective protection of all its citizens from discrimination and equality before the law and public authorities, first of all due to international and national commitments on the “Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination” and “Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms”. ()

Therefore, in the social life of the United States a great place given to the problem of interethnic conflicts, the study of peculiarities of their development, settlement and prevention. There is, clear, no universal strategies to prevent or resolve ethnic conflicts, but there are some possible strategies to reach ethnic piece. They can be used in conjunction with each other, and separately, but to succeed it is necessary to have some level of civic morality, confidence, dedication, humanity and foresight. (Coakley 1992)

If appointed to head the U.S. Civil Service Commission, I would recommend the following strategies:

  1. The first strategy of “consociation” is the inclusion of ethnic groups in the political and administrative structure of the state. It mean recognition of the existence of ethnic groups, and coordination of their interests by transforming representative and administrative institutions of the state in ethnic microcosm of society, where ethnic groups are have equal representation and rights.
  2. The second strategy “syncretism” or the cultural representation of ethnic diversity, followed by de-politicization of ethnic groups. It acknowledges the ethnic groups, but does not deal with the harmonization of their interests. The culture of each group proclaimed a part of a national culture. Each of these groups are considered equally important and equally valued and promoted, but they do not carry any political or ethnic independence.
  3. A third strategy is “federalization”, or decentralization, that is the provision of a share of autonomy to regional units, that in reality often means autonomy for ethnic groups. It does not recognize the autonomy of ethnic groups and does not attempt to reconcile their interests directly, but it can significantly contribute to the harmonization of interests, integration. Decentralization can be used to erase the ethnic boundaries and create new areas of interest, associations and even new types of self-consciousness.

Ethnic groups should be given cultural autonomy, the right to have schools, to develop their language and traditions, and in some cases even have their own civil laws.

The use of any strategy to achieve ethnic peace requires, at least, the presence of a democratic social order and respect of human rights and freedom. (Coakley 1992)



Balancing and Sharing Political Power in Multiethnic Societies. Summary of a Workshop. National Academy Press. Washington D. С. 1993. р. 7.
Coakley J. (1992). “The resolution of ethnic conflict: Towards a typology”. International Political Science Review 13(4): pp. 343-358
May S. (2004). Nationalism, Identity and Minority Rights. University of Waikato, Р. 281.
McGarry J. and O’Leary B. (1993). “Introduction: The macro-political regulation of ethnic conflict”. in John McGarry and Brendan O’Leary (eds.) The Politics of Ethnic Conflict Regulation: Case Studies of Protracted Ethnic Conflicts, London: Routledge, pp. 1-40
“Our diverse population: Race and Hispanic Origin, 2000”. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved from: http://www.census.gov/population/pop-profile/2000/chap16.pdf