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Chapter 9
Race and Ethnicity
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Race and Ethnicity
• Denying that racism, xenophobia, and
ethnocentrism exist serves only to
perpetuate them.
• The problems of racial and ethnic
difference arise when those differences
are defined in such a way that certain
groups confront prejudicial attitudes and
discriminatory conduct.
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
The Concepts of Race and Ethnicity
• Race is a social definition based on some
real or presumed physical, biological
characteristic, such as skin color or hair
texture, as well as a shared lineage.
• Ethnic groups, in contrast, are socially
defined on the basis of some real or
presumed difference in cultural
characteristics, such as language, religion,
tradition, and cultural practices.
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Historical Thinking About Race
• Race is not only a social construction, but is
also a social phenomenon that serves to both
differentiate groups of people and to create
hierarchical power structures that serve to
empower some at the expense of others.
• Historically, race has been a tool to aid in
imperial conquests, to realign power
structures, and to exploit those with little to no
power.
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Historical Thinking About Race
• Evolutionary thinking about racial categories led
to the Social Darwinist approach, which justified
a “survival of the fittest” approach to racial
inequality.
• Eugenics is an approach that suggests that
races should be distinguished from one another
based on presumed genetic composition,
leading to ideas that intelligence, criminal
behavior, and disease are controlled by race.
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Historical Thinking About Race
• “Scientific” Explanations
• In the 19th and 20th centuries there were
scientific justifications for treating people of
other races differently.
• This led to “scientific” justifications for unequal
distribution of wealth, power, and prestige.
• Gregor Mendel’s work on genetics and
heredity led to the development of Eugenics.
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Historical Thinking About Race
• Cultural Explanations
• Though “scientific” explanations of race
continue to exist, a newer explanation based
on social and cultural factors is more
prevalent today.
• In the second half of the 20th century, ideas of
cultural superiority replaced those associated
with biological superiority.
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
The Fluidity of Racial Categories
• Race is a dynamic and fluid social concept.
• There is nothing intrinsic about any racial
group that makes it distinct from any other.
• The hypodescent rule (also known as the one
drop rule) suggests that a person with the
slightest traceable amount of African ancestry
is legally and socially defined as Black or
African American.
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Racial and Ethnic Identities
• Many members from oppressed racial
groups go to some lengths to identify with
the dominant group.
• Some assigned to a subordinate race
physically resemble the dominant race.
• Others straighten, curl, or color their hair
• Others lighten their skin
• Some undergo rhinoplasty
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Majority-Minority Relations
• Those in the dominant (majority) group are
prone to exploit and marginalize members
of subordinate (minority) groups.
• Sociologically the definition of majorityminority is not numerical but based on
access to power, property, and prestige.
• The social construction of difference says
that all majority and minority statuses are
products of social definitions.
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Majority-Minority Relations
• Stereotypes, Prejudices, and Discrimination
• A stereotype is a generalization about an entire
category of people that frequently appears in
daily interaction.
• Prejudice involves attitudes, beliefs, and
feelings toward minorities (usually negative).
• Discrimination is the unfavorable treatment
arising from negative stereotypes associated
with prejudice.
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Majority-Minority Relations
• Intersectionality is the idea that members of any
minority group are affected by the nature of their
position in other arrangements of social inequality.
• “Matrix of Oppression” – the idea that the
confluence of disadvantages are not simply additive,
but that disadvantages multiply, as do their effects.
• “Matrix of Power and Advantage” - The converse is
also true in that a person who holds a number of
statuses that are highly valued in society is likely to
be advantaged.
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Majority-Minority Relations
• Patterns of interaction
• Pluralism exists in societies where many
groups are able to coexist without any of them
losing their individual qualities.
• Assimilation occurs when a minority group
takes on the characteristics of the dominant
group.
• Segregation is the physical separation of
majority and minority groups.
• Genocide is the systematic attempt at
eliminating an entire group of people.
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Majority-Minority Relations
• Race, Ethnicity, and Education: Economic
success is in large part predicted by
educational opportunity and achievement.
• Racial and ethnic inequality in learning
outcomes is a critical dimension of
inequality:
• The black-white achievement gap in public
schooling
• Hispanic students and cultural issues
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Majority-Minority Relations
• Race, Ethnicity, and Consumption:
• Consumption tends to be race- and ethnicityspecific, meaning there a limits to and
opportunities for consumption associated with
those differences.
• Marketing to Minorities: corporations and
businesses practice racialized marketing,
targeting minority populations with specific
products – menthol cigarettes and malt liquor
have been historically marketed to Blacks
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Majority-Minority Relations
• Race, Ethnicity, and Consumption
• White Consumption of Black Culture: whites have a
long-standing interest in consuming particular aspects
of black culture; however, this is a highly selective
process: whites often want to “be black” in limited
ways while still avoiding interaction with black people
and criticizing black culture and glorifying the negative
aspects.
• Commercialization of Ethnicity: The selling of lifestyle
and unique cultural offerings by minority groups to a
larger culture has become common, particularly
through tourism.
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Racism
• Racism involves defining a minority group as
a race, attributing negative characteristics to
that group, and then creating the
circumstances that keep that group at a
disadvantage relative to the majority. It is the
negative treatment of racial and ethnic
groups.
• Racism is a subtype of xenophobia and a
form of ethnocentrism - the belief that one’s
own group is superior to other groups.
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Racism
• Foundations of Racism
• Social Structure and Racism
• Racial advantage is structured into the ways that
social systems function, particularly in allocating
resources, opportunities, and rewards.
• Culture and Racism:
• The “white racial frame”
• Racism is a matter of hegemony – it occurs when
one racial group subordinates another on the basis
of dominant ideas about difference, rather than
strictly through material constraints.
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Racism
• Racist Motives: racism is difficult to eradicate
because it serves a number of functions for
individuals:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Ideological motive
Bigotry motive
Emotional motive
Criminal-materialist motive
Political-territorial motive
Group norm motive
Structural motive
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Racism
• Institutional Racism
• Race-based discrimination that results from the dayto-day operation of social institutions and social
structures and their rules, policies, and practices.
• It is racism that is systemic within a society.
• The Role of Individuals in Institutional Racism:
individual racism is rooted in and supported by racism
in larger structures.
• The “Invisibility” of Institutional Racism: far subtler
than individual acts and thus far more difficult to
eradicate.
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Social Movements and Race
• Hate Groups
• Most hate groups in the United States are
white supremacist groups who believe that
minorities of all kinds are a threat to national
identity.
• Examples include the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and
neo-Nazi skinheads.
• In 2012 the Southern Poverty Law Center
identified 1,007 active hate groups in the US.
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Social Movements and Race
• The Civil Rights Movement
• A significant example of resistance to the
oppression of blacks and other minority groups
• Started in the South in the mid-1950s
• Honed a variety of techniques including boycotts,
mass marches, freedom rides, and lawsuits
• As a result, Jim Crow laws in the South were
dismantled using non-violence as an ideological
position.
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Social Movements and Race
• Collective Identity and “Power” Movements
• Social movements that arose in the late 1960s
and early 1970s that sought to energize racial
minorities to advocate for social change by
deconstructing a shared sense of inferiority.
• Examples:
• The Black Power Movement
• Brown Power and La Raza
• The American Indian Movement (AIM)
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Race and Ethnicity in Global Context
• Historically, ethnic identities have been
closely tied to nation-states.
• With the increase in globalization and the
corresponding decline of the nation-state,
national identities have been diluted.
• Many ethnic and racial groups live in
diaspora – the dispersal, typically
involuntarily, of a population from the
traditional homeland over a wide geographic
area.
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Race and Ethnicity in Global Context
• Ethnic Identity and Globalization: Some
sociologists argue that globalization is not a
threat to ethnic identity.
• Ethnic identities are not as fragile as some believe
because they are part of the core identity.
• Globalization can be a force for the creation and
proliferation of ethnic identity.
• Ethnic identity and globalization are part of the same
processes.
• Transnationalism – the separation of ethnic or national
identity from any specific geographic territory.
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Race and Ethnicity in Global Context
• Global Prejudice and Discrimination
• The North-South distinction is a key factor.
• The Global North is shorthand for the developed
nations that are mostly in the northern hemisphere.
• The Global South refers to those nations
concentrated I the southern hemisphere with are
less developed or undeveloped.
• Historically, imperialism, colonialism, economic
development, Westernization and Americanization
have worked to the advantage of the Global North.
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Race and Ethnicity in Global Context
• Global Flows Based on Race and Ethnicity:
both race and ethnicity flow around the globe
as social constructions.
• Positive and Negative Flows
• Positive flows that enhance life, safety, and security are likely
located in majority areas and in the Global North.
• Structures that expedite negative flows are more likely to
dump into, and to be found in areas dominated by minority
groups.
• Racial and Ethnic Barriers: minorities may be
unable to move from an area that defines them as
subordinate populations.
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.
Race and Ethnicity in Global Context
• Ethnic Conflict Within Nation-States
• Expulsion is the removal of a group (direct or
voluntary) from a territory.
• Ethnic Cleansing is the establishment by the
dominant group of policies that allow for the
forcible removal of another ethnic group.
• Genocide is defined as “acts committed with
the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a
national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.”
Copyright 2014, SAGE Publications,
Inc.