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Tainted Blood: The Ambivalence of Ethnic Migration in Israel, Japan, Korea, Germany and the United States

GPS, Vol. 1 No. 3, (2001)

In public discourse and modern sociological literature, the concept of ethnicity is often treated as a category attached to persons or certain groups in a quasi-biological sense. In particular, this is the case when ethnicity is used as a substitute for race and thus inherits the Darwinian connotations of that concept. Modern thinking about genetics has a tendency to return to this type of argument. In this tradition, even social scientists have attributed certain positive or negative characteristics to whole groups.3 Studies of immigrant groups based on survey or census data often carry a tendency to treat ethnicities as groups with certain inherent characteristics, comparable to treating collective public opinion in quantitative research. In particular, this is done in studies which rely only on one set of data limited to just one country. Critizing these tendencies, Katznelson has warned that social scientists should begin their analysis with events in the "early, fluid period of immigration, which have a determinative impact on subsequent patterns of group behaviour and not restrict their studies to the groups' behaviour patterns."(Katznelson 1973: 24) Another way for more in-depth analysis is to compare groups in a given situation in several countries.

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