The aim of this study is twofold: first to enlarge upon the understanding of race and ethnicity through a culturalist-comparative focus, as opposed to the common reliance on empirical or political-economy discourses. Secondly, to highlight the religious constitution of sociocultural life. Ethnic and race relations are examined in reference to the cultural system of the society, as manifested in three interrelated aspects: cultural assimilation, concerning dominant-minority cultural relations; psychosocial assimilation, concerning the question of identity; and biological assimilation, concerning inter-marriage. The US and Brazilian cultural systems are contrasted as ideal types of "cultural separatism" and "cultural integration". In contrast to current thinking, it is argued that the former type crystallizes interethnic conflict and inequality, while the latter is a prerequisite for the social inclusion of society's members. Finally, the dominant religion is addressed as the critical structuring force of social/intergroup relations.
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