Labor Markets and Ethnic Inequality in Peninsular Malaysia, 1970

Type Journal Article - The Journal of Developing Areas
Title Labor Markets and Ethnic Inequality in Peninsular Malaysia, 1970
Volume 18
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 1983
Page numbers 1-20
The classical sociological theory of race and ethnic relations suggests that
assimilation-the withering of divisions based upon race and ethnicity-is the
long-term expectation in modem societies. This trend is supposed to reflect
modem industrial organization, where social mobility is based upon achieved
rather than ascribed status. This theory (often labeled as assimilation theory or
the industrialization hypothesis) has found only modest support in the decades
following its formulation. There is considerable evidence of persistent ethnic
inequality and conflict in many countries at all stages ofdevelopment throughout
the modem world.’ The search for an alternative paradigm of race and ethnic
relations has not led in a common direction. There have been numerous theoretical
contributions to the study ofrace and ethnic relations over the past two
decades, but none has emerged as dominant.2 Some of these writings have attempted
to posit alternative paths of evolutionary change in multiethnic societies,
while other theorists suggest a broader array of causal variables that influence
the relative degree of ethnic inequality in societal rewards (earnings,
status) or power. The hypothesis of socioeconomic (or structural) assimilation
remains the keystone of much research, but it is expected to be a function of
political forces, labor-market structures, and other institutional factors as well
as the functional needs of a modern industrial society.

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