Most studies of racial and ethnic relations discuss the position in a single country. Professor Banton's book is notable for its internationalism. It formulates principles that govern the development of relations between racial and ethnic groups everywhere, drawing upon case studies from across the globe. The arguments which organize this mass of evidence are taken from a rational choice theory of behaviour, combining elements from modern economics with older sociological interpretations. According to this theory, much turns on whether people, as they seek their economic and social goals, choose to compete as groups or individuals, for group competition reinforces any boundaries that are marked by physical difference, whereas individual competition dissolves them. Many of the concepts that have been used in racial and ethnic studies reflect the values of the more articulate groups in given societies at particular times. As the concepts of economics are less tied to varying cultures and circumstances, they can inform comparative history of racial relations in South Africa, the United States and Britain (as seen in three substantial chapters). They can also be used (as later chapters show) to illuminate the dynamics of racial discrimination in housing and employment markets, fitting the theory to the complexity of every-day transactions and bringing sociology into relation with social policy.