National and Ethnic Identities: Dual and Extreme Identities amongst the Coloured Population of Port Elizabeth, South Africa
By Wendy Isaacs-Martin
Volume 14, Issue 1, pages 55-73
A popular maxim in South Africa, a legacy of apartheid thinking, is that the Coloured population does not possess an ethnic identity and that, secondly, in post-apartheid popular thought, that the group does not embrace the collective national identity. The aim of this article is to demonstrate that the Coloured population is not a homogenous group in terms of political thought and primary language, and yet the group reflects ethnic consciousness. The study focused on a population sample (n = 215) in the port city of Port Elizabeth, where the majority of Coloured people in the Eastern Cape Province are located. The findings revealed that the majority of the Coloured population support collective national identity. Another finding is that a significant proportion of the Coloured population regard their ethnic identity as salient. The conclusions drawn were, firstly, that the group showed ‘extreme’ identity preferences rather than dual identities; secondly, that language played a role in determining the primary collective identity amongst the group.
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