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Ethnic nepotism is a concept in sociology including ideas taken from sociobiology to explain why people prefer other people of the (perceived) same ethnicity or race. Influenced by W.D. Hamilton's theory of kin selection, ethnic nepotism describes a human tendency for in-group bias or in-group favouritism applied on the ethnic level. It was coined by sociologist Pierre L. van den Berghe in response to Belgian oppression of Africans he witnessed as a Congolese-born European in the Belgian Congo.

The theory of ethnic nepotism developed by van den Berghe views ethnocentrism and racism as nepotism toward extended kin, real or fictive, and products of kin selection. The concept has been applied and extended by figures such as Tatu Vanhanen and Frank Salter.

Steve Sailer, following the work of Hamilton and van den Berghe, notes that the genetic basis of ethnic nepotism is as strong as the uncle-nephew bond:

[Pierre L. van den Berghe's concept of] "ethnic nepotism" [lead him to] to sociobiology and its bedrock finding: the late William D. Hamilton's theory of kin selection and inclusive fitness—the more genes we share with another individual, the more altruistic we feel toward him. There are no clear boundaries between extended family, tribe, ethnic group, or race. So van den Berghe coined the term "ethnic nepotism" to describe the human tendency to favor "our people." Ethnocentrism, clannishness, xenophobia, nationalism, and racism are the almost inevitable flip sides of ethnic nepotism... [The] genetic basis for ethnic nepotism with each racial group is roughly as strong on average as the etymologically classic case of nepotism among close kin—the uncle-nephew bond. Ethnic nepotism isn't a metaphor. It's a reality.[1]

Ethnic nepotism might also help to interpret phenomena like hooliganism and group fanaticism for a variety of causes.

Ethnic nepotism answers the question why people favor those most like them. Sailer continues:

Why do people care so much about who is related to whom? Because, as Hamilton's logic showed, that's toward whom they are more nepotistic (i.e., altruistic). In turn, ethnocentrism, nationalism, and racism are essentially the inevitable flip side of nepotism. If people discriminate in favor of their relatives, they are going to discriminate against their non-relatives.[2]

J. Philippe Rushton links ethnic nepotism to genetic similarity theory, arguing that people engage in ethnic nepotism to benefit copies of their genes:

[T]he reason people engage in ethnic nepotism, as well as marry similar others, and like, make friends with, and help the most similar of their neighbors, is that doing so benefits copies of their genes. The sense of a common ethnicity remains a major focus of identification for individuals today. It is no more likely to diminish in the future than is that of the family. Genetic similarity theory explains why.[3]

Regarding how this translates into politics and why homogeneous societies are more altruistic, Frank Salter writes:

Relatively homogeneous societies invest more in public goods, indicating a higher level of public altruism. For example, the degree of ethnic homogeneity correlates with the government's share of gross domestic product as well as the average wealth of citizens. Case studies of the United States, Africa and South-East Asia find that multi-ethnic societies are less charitable and less able to cooperate to develop public infrastructure. Moscow beggars receive more gifts from fellow ethnics than from other ethnics. A recent multi-city study of municipal spending on public goods in the United States found that ethnically or racially diverse cities spend a smaller portion of their budgets and less per capita on public services than do the more homogenous cities.[4]

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Contents

Criticism

The topic of ethnic nepotism remains controversial, not the least among those involved in scientific disciplines like evolutionary psychology and human behavioral ecology.

In Rushton's interpretation it is not clear whether the proposed genetic likeness that supports ethnic nepotism is limited to external appearance, or it also includes other loci. If that is the case, it would be difficult to deduct how similar blood types or creatine levels, or others, among the multitude of invisible phenotype traits, contribute to determine the bonding behavior towards people carrying the alleged similar alleles. Also, there is no clue offered as to which of these specific alleles are the most important for expression of ethnic nepotism. Hamiltonian kin selection (in itself very controversial) refers exclusively to defined sets of discrete behaviors that are innate, not learned [5] and increase the reproductive fitness among very close kin, whereas ethnic nepotism would appear to depend heavily on social interactions and on social constructs.

Hamiltonian kin selection refers to post-mating reproductive strategies among siblings, while ethnic nepotism refers to social processes including mate selection. The notion of equivalence to the uncle-nephew bond in ethnic nepotism is not supported, since genetic relatedness in ethnic nepotism is much more distant, unless the population is fairly endogamic.

Current proponents and users of the term are regularly associated with white nationalist, separatist and supremacist movements, and with pseudoscientific racism and scientific racism ideologies that have been disqualified as hard science in the 20th century by the American school of cultural anthropology (Franz Boas, etc.), the British school of social anthropology (Bronisław Malinowski, Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, etc.), the French school of ethnology (Claude Lévi-Strauss, etc.), as well as by the discovery of the neo-Darwinian synthesis. Such pseudosciences, in particular anthropometry, were used to deduce behaviours and psychological characteristics from outward, physical appearances. It has been claimed that proponents have an interest in pumping up dubious science to create a debate.

Frank Salter's interpretation fails to explain the recently developed, multiethnic societies like Canada, Barbados and Singapore that are among the most prosperous in the world by any measurable standard, faring better than ancient, homogeneous conglomerates like Estonia or other Baltic states, for example.[6]

See also

References

  1. ^ Sailer, Steve, "Where Dawkins Fears To Tread: Ethnic Nepotism And The Reality Of Race," VDare, Oct. 3, 2004.
  2. ^ Sailer, Steve, "Rushton on ethnic nepotism," ISteve, Oct. 31, 2005.
  3. ^ Rushton, J. Phillipe, "Shared Genes: The Evolution of Ethnonationalism," VDare, August 20, 2009.
  4. ^ Salter, Frank, On Genetic Interests, pg.146.
  5. ^ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/altruism-biological/
  6. ^ Human Development Reports

Further reading

Supportive of Ethnic Nepotism

Critical of Ethnic Nepotism

External links

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Genealogy

Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Familypedia


Ethnic nepotism describes a human tendency for in-group bias or in-group favouritism applied on the ethnic level. It was coined by sociologist Pierre L. van den Berghe in response to Belgian oppression of Africans he witnessed as a Congolese-born European in the Belgian Congo. The theory of ehtnic nepotism developed by van den Berghe views ethnocentrism and racism as nepotism toward extended kin, real or fictive, and products of kin selection. It remains controversial even among those involved in evolutionary psychology and human behavioral ecology.


Van den Berghe is a recipient of the Spivak Award from the American Sociological Association for "sustained scholarly contributions throughout his career."

References

  • The Ethnic Phenomenon, Pierre L. van den Berghe (1981).
  • Ethnic Conflicts Explained by Ethnic Nepotism, Tatu Vanhanen (1999).
This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Ethnic nepotism. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.

This article uses material from the "Ethnic nepotism" article on the Genealogy wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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