In sociology, a minority group refers to a category of people who experience relative disadvantage as compared to members of a dominant social group. Minority group membership is typically based on differences in observable characteristics or practices, such as: sex, ethnicity, race, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. Utilizing the framework of intersectionality, it is important to recognize that an individual may simultaneously hold membership in multiple minority groups (e.g. both a racial and religious minority). Likewise, individuals may also be part of a minority group in regard to some characteristics, but part of a dominant group in regard to others.
The term "minority group" often occurs within the discourse of civil rights and collective rights, as members of minority groups are prone to differential treatment in the countries and societies in which they live. Minority group members often face discrimination in multiple areas of social life, including housing, employment, healthcare, and education, among others. While discrimination may be committed by individuals, it may also occur through structural inequalities, in which rights and opportunities are not equally accessible to all. The language of minority rights is often used to discuss laws designed to protect minority groups from discrimination and afford them equal social status to the dominant group.
Louis Wirth defined a minority group as "a group of people who, because of their physical or cultural characteristics, are singled out from the others in the society in which they live for differential and unequal treatment, and who therefore regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination". The definition includes both objective and subjective criteria: membership of a minority group is objectively ascribed by society, based on an individual's physical or behavioral characteristics; it is also subjectively applied by its members, who may use their status as the basis of group identity or solidarity. Thus, minority group status is categorical in nature: an individual who exhibits the physical or behavioral characteristics of a given minority group is accorded the status of that group and is subject to the same treatment as other members of that group.
Joe Feagin, states that a minority group has five characteristics: (1) suffering discrimination and subordination, (2) physical and/or cultural traits that set them apart, and which are disapproved by the dominant group, (3) a shared sense of collective identity and common burdens, (4) socially shared rules about who belongs and who does not determine minority status, and (5) tendency to marry within the group.
There is a controversy with the use of the word minority, as it has a common and an academic usage. Common usage of the term indicates a statistical minority; however, academics refer to power differences among groups rather than differences in population size among groups.
Some sociologists have criticised the concept of "minority/majority", arguing this language excludes or neglects changing or unstable cultural identities, as well as cultural affiliations across national boundaries. As such, the term historically excluded groups (HEGs) is often similarly used to highlight the role of historical oppression and domination, and how this results in the underrepresentation of particular groups in various areas of social life.
The term national minority is often used to discuss minority groups in international and national politics. All countries contain some degree of racial, ethnic, or linguistic diversity. In addition, minorities may also be immigrant, indigenous or landless nomadic communities. This often results in variations in language, culture, beliefs, practices, that set some groups apart from the dominant grop. As these differences are usually perceived negatively by, this results in loss of social and political power for members of minority groups.
There is no legal definition of national minorities in international law, though protection of minority groups is outlined by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities. International criminal law can protect the rights of racial or ethnic minorities in a number of ways. The right to self-determination is a key issue.
The formal level of protection of national minorities is highest in European countries. The Council of Europe proposes a definition of national minorities in the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and by the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities; however these definitions are not binding upon member states. Using this framework, a national minority can be theoretically defined as a group of people within a given nation state:
In some places, subordinate ethnic groups may constitute a numerical majority, such as Blacks in South Africa under apartheid. In the United States, for example, non-Hispanic Whites constitute the majority (63.4%) and all other racial and ethnic groups (Hispanic or Latino, African Americans, Asian Americans, American Indian, and Native Hawaiians) are classified as "minorities". If the non-Hispanic White population falls below 50% the group will only be the plurality, not the majority.
The elderly, while traditionally influential or even (in a gerontocracy) dominant in the past, are now usually reduced to the minority role of economically 'non-active' groups. Children can also be understood as a minority group in these terms, and the discrimination faced by the young is known as adultism. Discrimination against the elderly is known as ageism.
Various local and international statutes are in place to mitigate the exploitation of children, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as a number of organizations that make up the children's rights movement. The youth rights movement campaigns for social empowerment for young people, and against the legal and social restrictions placed on legal minors. Groups that advocate the interests of senior citizens range from the charitable (Help the Aged) to grass-roots activism (Gray Panthers), and often overlap with disability rights issues.
Also known as "castelike minorities," involuntary minorities are a term for people who were originally brought into any society against their will. In the United States, for instance, it includes but is not limited to Native Americans, Puerto Ricans, African Americans, and native-born Mexican Americans. For reasons of cultural differences, involuntary minorities may experience difficulties in school more than members of other (voluntary) minority groups. Social capital helps children engage with different age groups that share a common goal.
Immigrants take on minority status in their new country, usually in hopes of a better future economically, educationally, and politically than in their homeland. Because of their focus on success, voluntary minorities are more likely to do better in school than other migrating minorities. Adapting to a very different culture and language make difficulties in the early stages of life in the new country. Voluntary immigrants do not experience a sense of divided identity as much as involuntary minorities, and are often rich in social capital because of their educational ambitions. Major immigrant groups in the United States include Mexicans, Central and South Americans, Cubans, Africans, and Indians.
The term sexual minority is frequently used by public health researchers to recognize a wide variety of individuals who engage in same-sex sexual behavior, including those who do not identify under the LGBTQ umbrella. For example, men who have sex with men (MSM), but do not identify as gay. In addition, the term gender minorities can include many types of gender variant people, such as intersex people, transgender people, or gender non-conforming individuals. However, the terms sexual and gender minority are often not preferred by LGBTQ people, as they represent clinical categories rather than individual identity.
Though lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people have existed throughout human history, LGBT rights movements across many western countries led to the recognition of LGBTQ people as members of a minority group. LGBTQ people represent a numerical and social minority. They experience numerous social inequalities stemming from their group membership as LGBTQ people. These inequalities include social discrimination and isolation, unequal access to healthcare, employment, and housing, and experience negative mental and physical health outcomes due to these experiences.
The disability rights movement has contributed to an understanding of disabled peoples as a minority or a coalition of minorities who are disadvantaged by society, not just as people who are disadvantaged by their impairments. Advocates of disability rights emphasize difference in physical or psychological functioning, rather than inferiority. For example, autistic people argue for acceptance of neurodiversity, much as opponents of racism argue for acceptance of ethnic diversity. The deaf community is often regarded as a linguistic and cultural minority rather than a group with disabilities, and some deaf people do not see themselves as having a disability at all. Rather, they are disadvantaged by technologies and social institutions that are designed to cater for the dominant group. (See the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.)
One of the most controversial minorities in the United States and other countries has been communists. Along with the Red Scare and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the United States ran open campaigns to fight, contain and promote fear of communism in the country. Some were persecuted as communist even when they were not actually so: for example, many activists for civil rights were portrayed as inspired by a communist agenda. Communists in the United States, as in many European countries, are often afraid to proclaim their politics, fearing abuse and discrimination from the political majority.
People belonging to religious minorities have a faith which is different from that held by the majority. Most countries of the world have religious minorities. It is now widely accepted in the west that people should have the freedom to choose their own religion, including not having any religion (atheism and/or agnosticism), and including the right to convert from one religion to another. However, in many countries this freedom is constricted. For example, in Egypt, a new system of identity cards requires all citizens to state their religion—and the only choices are Islam, Christianity, or Judaism (See Egyptian identification card controversy).
Authors have pointed out that many coal workers would be unwilling to move for work or were not likely to be able to be retrained as Appalachians are an "ethnic minority".
While in most societies, numbers of men and women are roughly equal, the status of women as a subordinate group has led to many social scientists to study them as a minority group. Though women's legal rights and status vary widely across countries, women experience social inequalities relative to men in most societies. Women are often denied access to education, subject to violence, and lack access to the same economic opportunities as men.
In the politics of some countries, a "minority" is an ethnic group recognized by law, and having specified rights. Speakers of a legally recognized minority language, for instance, might have the right to education or communication with the government in their mother tongue. Countries with special provisions for minorities include Canada, China, Ethiopia, Germany, India, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Croatia, and the United Kingdom.
The various minority groups in a country are often not given equal treatment. Some groups are too small or indistinct to obtain minority protections. For example, a member of a particularly small ethnic group might be forced to check "Other" on a checklist of different backgrounds and so might receive fewer privileges than a member of a more defined group.
Many contemporary governments prefer to assume the people they rule all belong to the same nationality rather than separate ones based on ethnicity. The United States asks for race and ethnicity on its official census forms, which thus breaks up and organizes its population into sub-groups, primarily racial rather than national. Spain does not divide its nationals by ethnic group, although it does maintain an official notion of minority languages.
Some especially significant or powerful minorities receive comprehensive protection and political representation. For example, the former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina recognizes the three constitutive nations, none of which constitutes a numerical majority (see nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina). However, other minorities such as Romani and Jews, are officially labelled "foreign" and are excluded from many of these protections. For example, they may be excluded from political positions, including the presidency.
There is debate over recognizing minority groups and their privileges. One view is that the application of special rights to minority groups may harm some countries, such as new states in Africa or Latin America not founded on the European nation-state model, since minority recognition may interfere with establishing a national identity. It may hamper the integration of the minority into mainstream society, perhaps leading to separatism or supremacism. In Canada, some feel that the failure of the dominant English-speaking majority to integrate French Canadians has provoked Quebec separatism.
Others assert that minorities require specific protections to ensure that they are not marginalised: for example, bilingual education may be needed to allow linguistic minorities to fully integrate into the school system and compete equally in society. In this view, rights for minorities strengthen the nation-building project, as members of minorities see their interests well served, and willingly accept the legitimacy of the nation and their integration (not assimilation) within it.
The Albanians in Ukraine (Ukrainian: Албанці, Albantsi) are an ethnic minority group located mainly in Zaporizhia Oblast and Budjak. They descend from Albanian warriors who fought against the Ottoman Empire in the Russo-Turkish wars and were allowed to settle in the Russian Empire in the 18th century.Arabs in Berlin
Arabs in Berlin form the fourth-largest ethnic minority group in Berlin, after the Turkish, Polish and Russian community. As of December 2012, there are about 70,000 people of any Arab origin residing in the city which corresponds to 2% of the population.Arará
Arará is a minority group in Cuba (especially in the provinces of La Habana and Matanzas) who descend from Fon, Ewe, Popo, Mahi, and other ethnic groups in Dahomey. Arará may also refer to the music, dance, and religion of this group of people.Asian Canadians
Asian Canadians are Canadians who can trace their ancestry back to the continent of Asia or Asian people. Canadians with Asian ancestry comprise the largest and fastest growing visible minority group in Canada, with roughly 17.7% of the Canadian population. Most Asian Canadians are concentrated in the urban areas of Southern Ontario, the Greater Vancouver area, Calgary, and other large Canadian cities.
Asian Canadians considered visible minorities may be classified as East Asian Canadian (e.g. Chinese Canadians, Korean Canadians, Japanese Canadians); South Asian Canadians (e.g. Bangladeshi Canadians, Indian Canadians, Pakistani Canadians, Sri Lankan Canadians); Southeast Asian Canadian (e.g. Filipino Canadians, Vietnamese Canadians); or West Asian Canadians (e.g. Iranian Canadians, Iraqi Canadians, Lebanese Canadians).Bamyan District
Bamyan (Persian: بامیان) is a district of Bamyan Province in Afghanistan. In 2003, the population was put at 70,028, of which the majority group is Hazara while the Tajik is a minority group. New Zealand peace keepers operate in the district as well as most of Bamyan Province.
Villages in Bamyan District include `Ambar Samuch.Christianity in Somalia
Christianity is a minority religion in Muslim-majority Somalia, with an estimated 10,000 practitioners in a population of over eight million inhabitants. Most Christian adherents come from the Bantu ethnic minority group, or are descended from Italian colonists and belong to the Evangelical and Wesleyan Church of the Nazarene. There is one Catholic diocese for the entire country, the Diocese of Mogadishu.Dance in China
Dance in China is a highly varied art form, consisting of many modern and traditional dance genres. The dances cover a wide range, from folk dances to performances in opera and ballet, and may be used in public celebrations, rituals and ceremonies. There are also 56 officially recognized ethnic groups in China, and each ethnic minority group in China also has its own folk dances. Outside of China, the best known Chinese dances today are the Dragon dance and the Lion dance.Dubul' ibhunu
Dubul' ibhunu, also known as Shoot the Boer, is a controversial South African song. The intended meaning of the song as well as who it is supposed to refer to is disputed. Critics of the song state that is calls for and celebrates violence against a particular minority group in South Africa whilst supporters of the song state that it is a liberation song that articulates legitimate and non-violent expression of protest that constitutes an important part of South Africa's history. Depending on the interpretation the song might refer to institutional structures such as the National Party dominated apartheid era government of South Africa or any system of white supremacy and racial oppression; or to specific groups of people such as members of the South African Police Force and Army during apartheid, Boer people, Afrikaners, white farmers, or white South Africans generally. It is similar to, although not to be confused with, the controversial slogan "One Settler, One Bullet".Ethnic media
Ethnic media is media fashioned with a particular ethnic minority group or ethnic minority community in mind.Irish Travellers
Irish Travellers (Irish: an lucht siúil, meaning 'the walking people') are a traditionally itinerant ethnic group who maintain a set of traditions. Although predominantly English-speaking, many also use Shelta. They live mostly in Ireland as well as comprising large communities in the United Kingdom and the United States. Traveller rights groups have long pushed for ethnic status from the Irish government, finally succeeding in 2017.As of 2016, there are 30,987 Travellers within Ireland, and this has led to them becoming recognized as a minority group in Ireland.Larb
Larb (Lao: ລາບ; Thai: ลาบ, RTGS: lap, pronounced [lâːp], also spelled laap, larp, lahb or laab) is a type of Lao meat salad that is regarded as the "unofficial" national dish of Laos. It is also eaten in the Isan region, an area of Thailand where the majority of the population is of the Lao ethnicity. The Hmong people, an ethnic minority group who migrated into the country in the nineteenth century, have adopted the Lao dish along with many other elements of Lao cuisine. Local variants of larb also feature in the cuisines of the Tai peoples of Shan State, Burma, and Yunnan province, China.Laz people in Turkey
The Laz people in Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye Lazları, Laz: ლაზეფე თურქონაშე Lazepe Turkonaşe) refers to an ethnic group who are native to eastern Black Sea coast of southwestern Georgia, and their descendants.
Most Laz people today live in Turkey, but the Laz minority group has no official status in Turkey. Their number today is estimated at 2,250,000.Macedonian Muslims
The Macedonian Muslims (Macedonian: Македонци-муслимани, Makedonci-muslimani), also known as Muslim Macedonians or Torbeši, (Macedonian: Торбеши) and in some sources grouped together with Pomaks, are a minority religious group within the community of ethnic Macedonians in North Macedonia who are Muslims (primarily Sunni, with Sufism being widespread among the population). They have been culturally distinct from the majority Orthodox Christian Macedonian community for centuries, and are ethnically and linguistically distinct from the larger Muslim ethnic groups in the greater region of Macedonia: the Albanians, Turks and Roms. However, some Torbeši also still maintain a strong affiliation with Turkish identity and with Macedonian Turks. The regions inhabited by these Macedonian-speaking Muslims are Debarska Župa, Drimkol, Reka, and Golo Brdo (in Albania).Mekan people
The Mekan or Me'en are an ethnic minority group inhabiting southwestern Ethiopia. The 1998 census lists them as consisting of 56,585 individuals. In Ethiopia, ethnic communities speaking Nilo-Saharan languages are referred to as "Nilotic", but this is not exactly the same meaning as the Nilotic language family.
The Mekan or Me'en speak the Me'en language, which is a member of the Surmic branch of the Nilo-Saharan language family. The population is subdivided into two groups: the highland Tishena, who are agriculturalists, and the lowland Bodi, who are pastoralists.Minority rights
Minority rights are the normal individual rights as applied to members of racial, ethnic, class, religious, linguistic or gender and sexual minorities; and also the collective rights accorded to minority groups. Minority rights may also apply simply to individual rights of anyone who is not part of a majority decision.
Civil rights movements often seek to ensure that individual rights are not denied on the basis of membership in a minority group, such as global women's rights and global LGBT rights movements, or the various racial minority rights movements around the world (such as the Civil Rights Movement in the United States).Sikhism in France
French Sikhs are a minority group in France. Numbering about 10,000, most of the Sikhs are based in Bobigny. There is one gurudwara in Bobigny.Turks in Berlin
Turks in Berlin are people of Turkish ethnicity living in Berlin where they form the largest ethnic minority group, and the largest Turkish community outside Turkey. The largest communities can be found in Kreuzberg, Neukölln, and Wedding, with substantial populations in other areas, almost exclusively those of the former West Berlin.Voting Rights Act of 1965
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. It was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson during the height of the Civil Rights Movement on August 6, 1965, and Congress later amended the Act five times to expand its protections. Designed to enforce the voting rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the Act secured the right to vote for racial minorities throughout the country, especially in the South. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Act is considered to be the most effective piece of federal civil rights legislation ever enacted in the country.The Act contains numerous provisions that regulate elections. The Act's "general provisions" provide nationwide protections for voting rights. Section 2 is a general provision that prohibits every state and local government from imposing any voting law that results in discrimination against racial or language minorities. Other general provisions specifically outlaw literacy tests and similar devices that were historically used to disenfranchise racial minorities.
The Act also contains "special provisions" that apply to only certain jurisdictions. A core special provision is the Section 5 preclearance requirement, which prohibits certain jurisdictions from implementing any change affecting voting without receiving preapproval from the U.S. Attorney General or the U.S. District Court for D.C. that the change does not discriminate against protected minorities. Another special provision requires jurisdictions containing significant language minority populations to provide bilingual ballots and other election materials.
Section 5 and most other special provisions apply to jurisdictions encompassed by the "coverage formula" prescribed in Section 4(b). The coverage formula was originally designed to encompass jurisdictions that engaged in egregious voting discrimination in 1965, and Congress updated the formula in 1970 and 1975. In Shelby County v. Holder (2013), the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the coverage formula as unconstitutional, reasoning that it was no longer responsive to current conditions. The Court did not strike down Section 5, but without a coverage formula, Section 5 is unenforceable.Waxiang Chinese
Waxiang (simplified Chinese: 瓦乡话; traditional Chinese: 瓦鄉話; pinyin: wǎxiānghuà; ɕioŋ˥tsa˧) is a divergent variety of Chinese, spoken by the Waxiang people, an unrecognized ethnic minority group in the northwestern part of Hunan province, China. Waxiang is a distinct language, very different from its surrounding Southwestern Mandarin, Xiang and Qo Xiong languages.
|Groups by region|