What is the difference between ethnicity and race?

11-SEP-2017 16:18

The diversity is used to describe entities with members who have identifiable differences in their biological as well as cultural backgrounds or lifestyles. This diversity is complemented by races and ethnicity. The term “Race" and "Ethnicity" are often used interchangeably but have separate meaning– one as ‘biological quality’ and second one as ‘cultural phenomenon’. Here, we are giving the basic difference between the race and ethnicity for general awareness.

Race and Ethnicity

What is race?

Although, all human belongs to same species, i.e. Homo sapiens and even sub-species, i.e. Homo Sapiens Sapiens. But there are small genetic variations across the globe due to geographical diversity such as variations in skin shading to the eye shading, and facial structure to hair shading. These engender diverse physical appearances termed as ‘race’ which is associated with biology.

Tribes and Races in the World

What is ethnicity?

Ethnicity refers to cultural factors, including nationality, regional culture, ancestry, and language. For example- German or Spanish ancestry (regardless of race) or Han Chinese, Indian, African etc. It implies or suggests shared cultural traits, linguistic or religious traits and a shared group history. It promotes group cohesiveness.

Race Vs Ethnicity

Both the term 'Race' and 'ethnicity' associated with the human categorization. They can supersede generally by the people but in reality they have separate designation. Aryans, Hamites, Semites etc. are the example of race whereas Indian, African, Germany, Italy, Sweden etc. are the example of ethnicity.




Lines of descent

Defined in terms of shared genealogy, whether actual or presumed.

Racial categories result from a shared genealogy due to geographical isolation.

Distinguishing Factors

Defined by the stereotypes of dominant groups.

Defined by skin colour, facial type, etc.

Hence, we can say both the terms are the system of human affiliation which means race is unitary and refers to a person belongs to one race whereas ethnicity claims as multiple groups. For example- Olsson’s is born of a Swedish father and Kenyan mother.

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