GMAT Test Prep: RC-96252323 GMAT Reading Comprehension

Two divergent definitions have dominated sociologists'discussions of the nature of ethnicity. The first emphasizesthe primordial and unchanging character of ethnicity. Inthis view, people have an essential need for belonging thatis satisfied by membership in groups based on sharedancestry and culture. A different conception of ethnicityde-emphasizes the cultural component and defines ethnicgroups as interest groups. In this view, ethnicity serves asa way of mobilizing a certain population behind issuesrelating to its economic position. While both of thesedefinitions are useful, neither fully captures the dynamicand changing aspects of ethnicity in the United States.Rather, ethnicity is more satisfactorily conceived of as aprocess in which preexisting communal bonds and commoncultural attributes are adapted for instrumental purposesaccording to changing real-life situations.

One example of this process is the rise of participationby Native American people in the broader United Statespolitical system since the Civil Rights movement of the1960's. Besides leading Native Americans to participatemore actively in politics (the number of Native Americanlegislative officeholders more than doubled), this movementalso evoked increased interest in tribal history and traditionalculture. Cultural and instrumental components ofethnicity are not mutually exclusive, but rather reinforceone another.

The Civil Rights movement also brought changes in theuses to which ethnicity was put by Mexican Americanpeople. In the 1960's, Mexican Americans formedcommunity-based political groups that emphasized ancestralheritage as a way of mobilizing constituents. Such emerging issues as immigration and voting rights gave MexicanAmerican advocacy groups the means by which to promoteethnic solidarity. Like European ethnic groups in thenineteenth-century United States, late-twentieth-centuryMexican American leaders combined ethnic with contemporary civic symbols. In 1968 Henry Censors, then mayorof San Antonio, Texas, cited Mexican leader Benito Juarezas a model for Mexican Americans in their fight for contemporary civil rights. And every year, Mexican Americanscelebrate Cinco de Mayo as fervently as many IrishAmerican people embrace St. Patrick's Day (both are majorholidays in the countries of origin), with both holidayshaving been reinvented in the context of the United Statesand linked to ideals, symbols, and heroes of the UnitedStates
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