This article examines the mechanisms which underlie the construction of individual and basic group identity, the latter o f which is also referred to as ethnicity.
From the time of birth, individual identity is inextricably linked with basic group identity (Isaacs, 1974; Peterson, Novak & Gleason, 1980).
Basic group identity may be determined internally by members of a group through the presence or absence of specific characteristics--or externally by someone outside of a group (Isajiw, 1974).
Importantly, Isaacs (1974) suggests that basic group identity is shaped not only in terms of descent from an inherited past, but also by the circumstances of the present, such as the relative political, social and economic status of one group to the next.
Culture is a "primary defining characteristic" of basic group identity (Keyes, 1976, p.
The basic group identity of migrant groups which come into contact or conflict with one another is shaped by the populations which they leave and enter, both in terms of each population as a separate and discrete entity, and through contact between different populations (Keyes, 1976; Petersen et al, 1980).