We propose a theoretical framework to study the determinants of ethnic and religious identity along two distinct motivational processes: cultural distinction and cultural conformity. Under cultural conformity, ethnic identity is reduced by neighborhood integration, which weakens group loyalties and prejudices. On the contrary, under cultural distinction, ethnic minorities are more motivated in retaining their own distinctive cultural heritage the more integrated are the neighborhoods where they reside and work. Using data on ethnic preferences and attitudes provided by the Fourth National Survey of Ethnic Minorities in the UK we find evidence that might be consistent with intense ethnic and religious identity mostly formed as a cultural distinction mechanism. Consistently, we document that ethnic identities might be more intense in mixed than in segregated neighborhoods.
- Cultural transmission