Sample Geography Essay Paper on Ethnicity


Definition of Ethnicity

From a personal perspective, ethnicity is a form of prejudice or favoritism based on affiliation to a racial or cultural tie that an individual has in relation to another.


 According to Kaplan, the term ‘ethnic’ gained popularity in the 1960s as a measure of describing people’s affiliation to groups (Kaplan, 2018). However, Kaplan also considers that the term was used in the past years with variations in the places it was used. During the Middle Ages, for instance, the term was used to refer to heathens or pagans. Despite the meaning of the term and its reference to the pagan and heathen, it did not distinguish them from the others.

Variation in Definition of Ethnicity

The meaning of ethnicity varies depending on the understanding of the concept and its relations to the characteristics of how people from different regions understand its application. The primordialism aspects of things consider that nations are a natural phenomenon, and as such, there is a connection among people. According to Kaplan (2018), the primordialists contend that ethnicity is established from the concept of kinship whereby ethnic groups are individuals who share the same origin, characteristics, and in some cases, blood relationship. On the other hand, social constructivists base their argument on the basis that knowledge, development, and connections among individuals are attained through the interaction people have with each other. As a result, ethnicity refers to a cultural heritage that people share based on their interaction with each other. Therefore, it is not a biological concept of connection among individuals, but a constructed concept that people develop in distinguishing clusters of people depending on the geographical location. Lastly, the instrumentalism aspect of ethnicity is based on people’s history based on time. Instrumentalists consider ethnicity as a concept based on the ‘symbolic’ and ‘historical’ memory of an individual or a community. Ethnicity is used and developed by people with pragmatic intentions of attaining their own goals.

Comparison to Personal Definition

Of the three schools of thought on ethnicity, the primordialists’ definition of the term is closely associated with my personal definition of ethnicity.


Kaplan, D. H. (2018). Something About Ethnicity. In Navigating Ethnicity: Segregation, Placemaking, and Difference (pp. 1-12). London, UK.: Rowman & Littlefield.