NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ871609
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Mar
Pages: 24
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0388-0001
Vantage Theory Formulations of Ethnicities: The Case of Overseas Japanese
Adachi, Nobuko
Language Sciences, v32 n2 p291-314 Mar 2010
How do people define ethnicity and its membership? Primordialists argue that people group themselves using "primal" or permanent characteristics like physical similarity or a common language, religion, or history. Social mobilizationists, however, see ethnicity as more situational social phenomena, as an informal organization whereby people group themselves in order to strengthen their political power, especially under conditions of class and stratification. Although these approaches seem incommensurate, I argue that for "minority" populations, both perspectives are valid. In other words, both the ethnic image that mainstream society holds and ethnic identity of the minority groups themselves influence the formation of ethnic categories and their memberships. I will show how the perspective of Vantage Theory can elucidate much that is often overlooked in the study of ethnicity. In this paper I look at how Japanese Brazilians, Japanese Brazilian "dekasegi" returnees, and Okinawans form their notions of ethnicity. In particular, this paper explores the lexical semantics of the terms: "Nihon-jin", "Nihon no hito", "returnee", "Japones, Brasirelo/a", "dekasegi", "Yamato-nchu", and "Uchinaa-nchu" to extract the meaning and the understandings held by members of these various groups in their socially-embedded contexts, using the formal mechanisms of Vantage Theory. In all three cases, as Vantage Theory explains how various properties become more-emphasized and less-emphasized, we can better understand the dynamics of ethnic category construction and the way they are used by participants. That is, by both (1) examining what formal linguistic and lexical vantages are constructed by members of these groups and finding what the entailments ensure, and (2) exploring the less formal social vantages and perspectives held--and under what contexts--we can offer not only a more robust ethnographic and linguistic analysis, but one that is more theoretically sound as well. (Contains 1 table and 9 figures.)
Elsevier. 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, FL 32887-4800. Tel: 877-839-7126; Tel: 407-345-4020; Fax: 407-363-1354; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Brazil; Japan