Vietnam Academy Of Social Sciences

Some theories about ethnic groups and approaches in Vietnam


Publication year: 2018

Pages quantity: 516

Theories and approach tendencies play an important role in scientific research, including basic research and applied research. Therefore, there are many different theoretical schools in the world studying the issues of nature, society and people.

Ethnology or socio-cultural anthropology is one of the branches that make a certain contribution to the research theory in social sciences in general, about human or ethnic groups and ethnic communities in particular.

For Vietnam, the research team identified that since its establishment, Vietnam's ethnography/anthropology has undergone many development periods. At each stage, it has actively selected selectively scientific achievements of the world's ethnological/anthropological schools, gradually applying concepts and theory creatively into practice in Vietnam.

To better understanding the role of theory in scientific research as well as the application of the theory, the sector's approach to the researching and teaching of the social sciences in general, especially on ethnography/anthropology in particular, the Social Science Publishing House published the book: "Some theories about ethnicity and approaches in Vietnam" by Assoc.Dr. Nguyen Van Minh as chief editor. Besides the Introduction and Conclusions, recommendations and the content of the book were presented in 9 chapters.

Chapter 1. Some theoretical and practical issues about ethnic groups and ethnic theory

The research team came up with some basic concepts: ethnic-ethnic group; nationality - nation; cross-border and cross-border ethnic groups; territory and ethnic territory. These concepts have been considered from different perspectives and suggested that the use of theories in practice research processes in each country, in each historical period had many dissimilarities and the results were also different. At the same time, the team has analyzed the effects of theoretical issues and approaches on ethnicity in the world on ethnography / anthropology in Asia.

Chapter 2. Some Marxist theories about ethnic groups

Based on the access to the Vietnamese translation of SI Bruc's book "Population and Ethnic Distribution in the World" as well as some other books, the research team gave readers a better understanding of the formation process and ethnic characteristics. The basic factors that had a great influence on the processes of forming ethnic communities were the processes of integration and assimilation. There was no clear boundary between these two processes and the essence of the processes was very different. By means of research, the authors found that Soviet ethnologists had relied on historical materialist methodology and continued to make new strides in the field of historical ethnographic theory.

Chapter 3. Some theories of European - American school about ethnic group

By selective exploitation from many different sources, the research team has helped readers have an overview of the theories of ethnic groups in Europe – America school, such as: Social theory of Piere Bourdieu, a French thinker inherited and influenced by a variety of theories, his studies aimed at exploring questions related to society and social order, in which must be mentioned two influential concepts were "force field" and "behavior"; The theory of cultural relativity in which Franz Boas was credited with laying the foundations for this theory; The diffusion theory, initiated by two scholars, Elliot Smith and Perry, according to which scholars of this school hold that the cause of cultural differences of different groups of people in the world was due to the borrowing or diffusion of cultural characteristics from one culture to another;...

Chapter 4. Some theoretical issues on ethnic relations and approaches to research on ethnic relations in Vietnam

The discussion of two main issues includes: (i) Some theoretical issues on ethnic relations; (ii) The theoretical approach to the study of ethnic relations in Vietnam, since then the group has achieved some major research results on ethnic relations, factors affecting ethnic relations. Especially, there have been some recommendations on research directions as well as research approaches on ethnic relations in Vietnam today. The recommendations were really useful for policy makers, especially researchers, to develop specific strategies, policies, plans and solutions for managing and developing ethnic relations.

Chapter 5. Some theoretical issues on Economic Anthropology and access to poverty research in Vietnam

The study shows that, although the first arguments about economic anthropology appeared in the works of scholars who gave birth to anthropology such as Malinowski and Boas, it was not until the mid-twentieth century that economic anthropology to become a real science major with its object and reasoning system were relatively independent and highly interdisciplinary. The team also agreed with the view that, in order to understand the motivations underlying economic behaviors, it was best to consider it in specific contexts and situations. Approaching poverty research in Vietnam, the authors summarized and gave a number of reasons for the instability and inequality in poverty reduction as follows: (i) the ethnic minorities mainly live in mountainous areas, highland areas with rich and diverse resources but due to complex divided terrain, scattered population, and harsh climatic conditions; (ii) the population of ethnic minorities continuously increases in both size and proportion, which puts pressure on natural resources; (iii) despite being invested with many resources, the infrastructure and social services of ethnic minorities are backward; (iv) language barriers, limited access to information, and prejudices of the community about inferiority, etc. are factors that prevent ethnic minorities from integrating and developing.

Chapter 6. A number of theoretical issues and approaches to researching national cultural identity, national culture in Vietnam

By studying a number of theories on culture, the authors have approached to study national culture and build Vietnamese national culture on the basis of the basic research works on culture of Tran Quoc Vuong, Tran Ngoc Them, Phan Ngoc… most believe that Vietnamese culture was the integration of ethnic cultures, regional culture and other types of culture. Through practical research, the researchers found that the cultural characteristics of a nation - race were relative. This characteristic became profound only when it was symbolized to distinguish one nation from another. Despite this, the authors still pointed to some limitations in previous studies.

Chapter 7. Some theoretical issues about social change and access to research on social change in Vietnam

Discussing the theory of social change as well as the approach to research on social change in Vietnam, the authors have drawn some comments as follows: (i) Research on social change in ethnography / anthropology in Vietnam initially has had changes in approach to suit the ethnography / anthropology of the world; (ii) Over the past 30 years, the development of topics of social change in ethnographic / anthropological research in Vietnam has created many new issues but so far no work has shown comprehensive, profound and systematic development and complex diversity transformation.

Chapter 8. Some theoretical issues about the environment and access to environmental research in Vietnam

By studying the theory of environment based on the views of some scholars before and during the twentieth century, through which the authors have approached environmental research in Vietnam on the basis of analyzing two main stages of the researches were done and published before 1990 and from the late 90s of the 20th century to the present.

Chapter 9. General assessment of some theoretical and practical issues about race and ethnic groups in Vietnam today

Ethnic conflicts and conflicts, extreme religious movements, extremist nationalism, autonomy and separatist ideologies have sprung up in many places and tended to spread and increase in many forms and ways. In this context, in Vietnam, a conspiracy of "peaceful evolution" of opposing forces in the ethnic area has emerged, the goal is to reduce the belief of the masses of ethnic minorities in the Vietnam’s Communist Party with a socialist regime, weakens the political system, especially at the grassroots level, damage the great national unity bloc. From that practice, the research team proposed to build a theoretical basis to prevent and combat conspiracy against Vietnam by opposing forces in the field of ethnic and ethnic groups.

With in-depth studies on several theories and approaches from international scholars at different stages of ethnicity, Vietnam has made its own approaches to address practical issues in the country as well as the development of policies on race / ethnicity in recent years, however, according to the authors' evaluation, there have been still limitations. Facing this fact, the team has proposed a number of research recommendations in the coming time to promote the great achievements and overcome the limitations.

Hopefully, with the above contents, the book would be a useful resource for researchers and policymakers about ethnicity / race.

Sincerely introduce the readers!

Nguyen Minh Hong


Social Sciences Publishing House

Author :
  • Assoc.Prof.Dr. Nguyen Van Minh (Chief Author)
  • TS. Nguyen Thi Thanh Binh
  • TS. Tran Minh Hang
  • MSc. Post-graduate. Vu Dinh Muoi
  • MSc. Post-graduate. Nong Bang Nguyen