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BUILDING THE CLASSIFICATION
The classification criteria are the principles by which the base level categories of the classification are formed and then aggregated to form broader or higher-level categories in the classification's structure. Ordinarily, one of the principles of classification design is that the categories should be mutually exclusive. That is, the categories should be distinct from one another and should not overlap. Adhering to this principal in relation to cultural and ethnic groups can be problematic as the criteria for identification with a particular group are varied.
Two classification criteria are used in ASCCEG to form the three hierarchical levels:
The classification criteria have been applied to produce a classification structure that can be described in conventional terms:
Some classificatory decisions are noteworthy:
The cultural identities of the peoples of Australia are recognised within ASCCEG. It would be inconsistent and impractical in a classification designed to collect data within the Australian context to not have 'Australian Peoples' and 'Australian' included in the classification. Australia has been inhabited by the Indigenous people for over 40,000 years and it is fitting that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples be recognised with appropriate categories in the narrow group 'Australian Peoples' and since European settlement, over 200 years ago, a distinct Australian cultural identity has emerged prompting the inclusion of 'Australian' in that narrow group.
Cultural and ethnic group 3308 'Russian' has been classified in Broad Group 3 'Southern and Eastern European' on the grounds of cultural similarity with other European cultural and ethnic groups even though much of Russia lies geographically in Asia. As a general rule, cultural and ethnic groups which originated and are located in Russia have also been classified to Europe. It is acknowledged, however, that this is not necessarily the best solution for all cultural and ethnic groups east of the Urals, many of whom are more culturally Asian than European. The principle that has been adopted for the classification of groups in Russia east of the Urals, is that those which speak Altaic or Iranic languages are classified to Narrow Group 72 Central Asian, while those which speak Ugro-Finnic languages are classified to Narrow Group 33 Eastern European.
Jewish has been included in Broad Group 4 'North African and Middle Eastern'. It is acknowledged that many Jewish people in Australia might not have ties with the Middle East and might consider classification within one of the European broad groups as more correct. However, following consultation with representatives of the Jewish community at the time ASCCEG was developed, it was decided to adhere to the classification criterion for geographic proximity and include 'Jewish' in 'North African and Middle Eastern' as this is where the Jewish culture originated.
Many people relate to more than one cultural or ethnic group and will give a multiple response to a question on ancestry, ethnicity or cultural identity. If meaningful and useful data is to be collected, the classification must be used to capture each element of a multiple response. Often a response will indicate an identification with a country in a national or cultural sense and will also acknowledge continuing ties with other ethnic or cultural groups e.g. Irish Australian, Italian Australian. Data collection models should be developed to capture multiple responses.
ASCCEG is primarily a classification for collecting statistical data within the Australian context.
Theoretical and conceptual considerations for developing ASCCEG were constrained by the need to ensure:
The effect of these constraints on the classification has been that:
The coverage, balance and robustness of the classification structure is such that it can accommodate changes to Australia's cultural and ethnic composition, and can be used to facilitate comparisons with cultural and ethnic data from other countries.
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