Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 4 Issue 3 (August 1994), Pages fmi-fmi, 145-218

Ethnic categorization among children in multi‐ethnic schools in the Netherlands (pages 167-179)


In this study the use and importance of ethnic categories is investigated among children in multi‐ethnic schools. It is argued that concentrating on ethnic categories ignores the many alternative forms of social categorization that can be used. It also ignores the possibility that social categories are not used at all. In the present study children were not confronted with material that explicitly stressed ethnicity, nor were they forced to respond to ethnic categories, but the social categories spontaneously used in written essays were analysed. The results show that ethnic categories should not be taken for granted. First, categorical constructs were not the only ones used, as many particular descriptions were given. Second, although most children did use ethnicity in describing differences between schoolmates, many other social categories were used and there were hardly any references to ethnicity when the children described patterns of playing.

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