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Racial and Ethnic Relations
History of RACE
 Scholars suspect the word Race is of Semitic
origin coming from a word that translations of the
bible label as “race”, as in the “race of Abraham,
but is often translated as “seed” or “generation”.
 Others trace the origin to a Czech word raz,
meaning artery or blood; others to the Latin
generatio, the Basque arraca or arraze, referring
to a male stud animal.
Some to the Spanish ras, which is of Arabic
translation meaning “head” or origin; in all cases
it signifies biological belonging of descent, blood
or relationship.
• Race: a category of people who are defined as
similar because of a number of physical
 As long ago as 1781, German physiologist Johann
Blumenbach realized the ignorant shortcomings of
grouping humans into such categories. He stated
that, “one variety of mankind does so sensibly pass
into the other, that you cannot mark out the limits
between them”, modern science supports this.
Sociology seeks to explain how people base
their reactions on the physical characteristics of
others in society.
Definitions of RACE
• Geneticists define race by calculating gene frequencies among
selected groups
• Legal definitions have often been employed where there was an
attempt to separate and apply different treatments to members of
certain groups :
not to long ago Georgia state law stated the following:
The term “white person” shall include only persons of the white or
Caucasian race, who have no ascertainable trace of either Negro,
African, West Indian, Asiatic Indian, Mongolian, Japanese, or
Chinese blood in their veins. No person, any of whose ancestors
[was] … a colored person or person of color, shall be deemed to be
a white person. (in some states , a person was labeled as black if
they were calculated as greater than 1/32 black.)
Definitions of RACE
The official social definition of race states: if a
person presents himself or herself as a
member of a certain race and others
respond to that person as a member of
that race, it makes little sense to say that
he or she is not a member of that race.
Historically, race was broken down into
(3) different categories:
1. Caucasoids
2. Mongoloids
3. Negroids
• This system is useless to sociology.
• There are no “pure” biological races.
• Ethnic Group: has a distinct cultural tradition that its
own members identify with and that may or may not
be recognized by others.
Many ethnic groups form subcultures. They often
possess:1. Internal loyalty and adherence to basic customs
2. Distinctive mores and folkways; customs of dress
3. Moral codes, value systems, types of recreation
4. A devotion to a; monarch, religion, lang., territory
5. A strong feeling of assoc. b/c of cultural traditions
6. Occasionally belong to own political unit or may
aspire to, or in today’s world: Arabs, French
Canadians, Flemish, Scots, Jews, and Pennsylvania Dutch often
are the part of larger units
Concept of Minorities
• Minority Group: do not think of the term minority as
meaning a group small in number, rather use it as an
implication that a group receives differential treatment and
exclusion from full social participation by the dominant group in
The proper sociological definition we will use for minority is:
a group of people who, because of physical or cultural
characteristics, are singled out from others in society for
differential and unequal treatment, and who therefore
regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination.
Concept of Minorities
a group of people who, because of physical or cultural
characteristics, are singled out from others in society for
differential and unequal treatment, and who therefore
regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination.
…Aside from this racial and ethnic definition there are other
groups in society that sociologists feel can be considered
such as…
women, homosexuals, adolescents, the aged, handicapped, the
radical right or left, even intellectuals
National Map
Where the Minority Majority Already Exists
Racial and Ethnic Categories in the United States, 2000
(Continued on next two slides)
Table (cont.)
Table (cont.)
Measuring Prejudice
The Social Distance Scale
Student opinion shows a trend toward greater social
People see fewer differences among various
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, might
have reduced social acceptance of Arabs and
Figure 14.1
Bogardus Social Distance Research (Detail on next slide)
The social distance scale is a good way to measure prejudice. Part (a) illustrates the complete social distance scale, from least social distance
at the far left to greatest social distance at the far right. Part (b) shows the mean (average) social distance score received by each category of
people in 2001. Part (c) presents the overall mean score (the average of the scores received by all racial and ethnic categories) in specific
years. These scores have fallen from 2.14 in 1925 to 1.44 in 2001, showing that students express less social distance toward minorities today
than they did in the past. Part (d) shows the range of averages, the difference between the highest and lowest scores in given years (in 2001,
for instance, it was 0.87, the difference between the high score of 1.94 for Arabs and the low score of 1.07 for Americans). This figure has also
become smaller since 1925, indicating that today’s students tend to see fewer differences between various categories of people.
Source: Parrillo & Donoghue (2005).
Figure 14.1 Detail
Problems in Race and Ethnic
• “being down on something you are not up on”
• Literally, prejudice means a “prejudgment.”
Therefore since we could be prejudiced against
Prejudice: as an irrationally based negative, or
occasionally positive, attitude toward certain
groups and their members.
Problems in Race and Ethnic
What causes prejudice?
It is shared, and draws those who hold it together.
Promotes a sense of “we-ness” and provides social
identity for some.
When two or more groups are competing for the same
resources it makes it easier to view your competitors
as less than human or unworthy.
Prejudice (perhaps) allows us to project onto others
those parts of ourselves we do not like and try to avoid
It is the necessary ingredient of discrimination;
therefore discrimination could not exist without it
Problems in Race and Ethnic
All negative forms of prejudice involve stereotypes.
a stereotype: an oversimplified, exaggerated or
unfavorable generalization about a group of people. ex:
all Irish are drunks, all Polish are stupid etc.
when this reaches the societal level…
a self-fulfilling prophecy can be constructed in a society
when the dominant group thinks that a stereotype is
true. ex: All poor people are stupid and lazy therefore why
bother educating them.
Problems in Race and Ethnic
… Prejudice is a subjective feeling, whereas discrimination
is an overt action.
Discrimination: refers to differential treatment,
usually treatment, usually unequal and injurious,
accorded to individuals who are assumed to belong
to a particular category or group.
Racism: is discrimination that is vented specifically
on the race of another and/or another/different
group. Definition: the belief that one’s race or ethnic
group is naturally superior to other races or ethnic
Merton’s Patterns of Prejudice and
Institutional Prejudice and
1. Legal discrimination: upheld by the law.
ex: Jim Crow laws in the deep south determined
separate-but-equal facilities for blacks and
2. Institutionalized discrimination: because
of long-held beliefs and practices, minority
groups are pushed to the bottom of the
social structure
Sources of Discrimination and
Prejudice in Modern Society
1. Sociological: learned through the social
environment. This environment includes
accepted social norms and how they are
2. Economic: b/c of the competition for scarce
resources and rewards, the dominant group
in society encourages competition between
minority groups.
Sources of Discrimination and
Prejudice in Modern Society
3. Psychological: individual explanations for
discrimination and prejudice.
a. Personality characteristics: people with an
authoritarian personality; conformist, string sense of
authority, blame others.
b. produced b/c of frustration and anger; defined as
Scapegoating: practice of placing the blame for one’s
troubles on an innocent individual or group.
Patterns of Racial and Ethnic
-Contrary to common belief, when racial and
ethnic groups interact there are not an
infinite number variety of human
experiences; rather there are a limited
number of outcomes when racial and ethnic
groups come into contact –
The following (6) outcomes, though loose in
definition and easily overlapped, are what
sociologists have identified as typical
Patterns of Racial and Ethnic
The following (6) concepts explain the continuum
of how minority groups are viewed and treated
by the larger society. (“the American melting pot”)
1. Assimilation: the process whereby groups with
different cultures come to have a common culture.
• not in terms of dress or food b/values, attitudes,
sentiments etc.
• there is never a 50/50 assimilation b/rather one
culture usually retains more and integrates less
• Think! Native Americans socially and legally have had
almost (100) years to assimilate but have not. Why?
Patterns of Racial and Ethnic
2. Pluralism: the development and coexistence of
separate racial and ethnic group identities within a
society. (“Salad-Bowl culture”)
Pluralism is a reaction against assimilation and the
melting pot idea
Theorizes that individual minority lifestyles are a
legitimate and desirable way of participating with
Also theorizes the implication of hostility to existing
inequalities in the status and treatment of minority
Switzerland may be the best international icon of
pluralism; Swiss= German, French, and Italian
Patterns of Racial and Ethnic Relations
3. Subjugation: the subordination of one group and
the assumption of a position of authority, power, and
the domination by the other.
Individuals from subordinate groups may in time
accept and rationalize their social positions
when a racial or ethnic group is placed in an inferior
position its people are often eliminated as competitors
American attitudes towards Native Americans:
The logic of events demands the absorption of the Indians into our national life, not as
Indians, but as American citizens…The Indians must conform to “the white’s man’s
way,” peaceably if they will, forcibly if they must… this civilization must not be the
best possible, but it is the best the Indians can get. They cannot escape it, and must
either conform to it or be crushed by it. (Thomas Jefferson Morgan, President
Benjamin Harrison’s commissioner of Indian affairs)
Patterns of Racial and Ethnic
4. Segregation: a form of subjugation, refers to the act,
process, or state of being set apart. Encompasses policies
that physically separate minority groups from the
dominant group.
1. de jure segregation: based on laws
2. de facto segregation: based on informal norms
• Segregation is most often negative, b/ can be positive as in Amish
communities or Chinatown in major cities
• Use of the word ghetto reserved by minorities living in the innercity comes from the word to describe the segregated quarters of
European cities which housed European Jews
• Native Americans often chose segregation rather than
assimilation or annihilation
National Map 14.2
Land Controlled by Native Americans, 1790 to Today
In 1790, Native Americans controlled three-fourths of the land (blue-shaded areas) that eventually became the United States. Today, Native
Americans control 314 reservations, scattered across the United States, that account for just 2 percent of the country’s land area. How would
you characterize these locations?
Source: Copyright (c) 1998 by The New York Times Co. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Patterns of Racial and Ethnic
5. Expulsion: the process of forcing a group to leave the
territory in which it resides.
As Germans did under Hitler (starting in 1933) for the Jews
1933 Germany was home to some 500,000 Jews
by 1940 before the “final solution” only 220,000 remained
Forced Migration: the relocation of a group through
direct action
The U.S. government practiced this policy on Native Americans
in the 19th century; that is native Americans were forcibly
removed or killed, once put on reservations they were then
subjected to ways of “civilization”
Patterns of Racial and Ethnic
6. Annihilation: the deliberate extermination of a racial
or ethnic group. In recent years it has been referred to as
genocide coined to describe the crimes committed by
the Nazis during WWII.
annihilation is the denial of the right to live to a group of people
as homicide is to an individual
non-purposeful: arriving in the Americas Europeans brought
smallpox all but wiping out the Incas, Aztecs, and millions of
Native Americans
purposeful: Europeans deliberately exterminated natives
living on the island of Tasmania in the 250 years after the island
was discovered in 1642
- the largest systematic extermination was committed by the
nazis during WWII, killing 11 million including 6 million Jews
-the large scale extermination aimed at Jews slaughtered 60% of
Jews and Europe and 36% of the world’s Jewish pop.
Patterns of Racial and Ethnic Relations
On December 11th, 1946, the General Assembly of the U.N.
passed the following resolution on genocide:
Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or
in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious groups as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to
bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group
In recent times dominant groups have combined population
transfer with extermination in a practice called ethnic
-ethnic Africans in the Sudan, Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo
Racial and Ethnic Immigration to
the United States
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free;
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!