The study of ethnicity has long been shaped by a conflict between two broad positions, one of which may be called the circumstantialist or instrumentalist position, and the other the primordialist or affectivist position. The primordialists view ethnic sentiments as something existing prior to and not dependent on goal-oriented behavior and hence not subject to calculation. The circumstantialists, however, view ethnicity as a product of particular circumstances in which contingent groups, usually at the behest of elites within those groups, broaden and reconceptualize their particular group interests as being derived from a common primordial substance, thus generating ethnicity. These circumstantialist or instrumentalist arguments as a rule assume that the particular circumstances where such group redefinitions and extensions prove useful are either unique to, or at least much more common in, the modern age. Thus the circumstantialist approach usually implies a modernist one.