Race is mostly a modern idea.
Peoples were previously sorted
by class, religion and even
•The term Race refers to physical
characteristics that others deem socially
•This could be skin color, hair shape or eye
shape. These are insignificant
characteristics which, nonetheless, are
•Note that while race refers to said physical
characteristics it is NOT biologically
States Farley (2005):
An ethnic group is “a group of people who
are generally regarded by themselves or
others as a distinct group, with such
recognition based on social or cultural
characteristics such as nationality,
language, and religion.”
In the United States, a few examples of
ethnic groups would be Jewish Americans,
Italian Americans, and Hispanics.
An unreliable generalization about members of a
group that do not recognize individual
differences within the group.
Think of some stereotypes about such minority groups
as Hispanics, Asians, American Indians, African
Americans or Jewish Americans.
Prejudice: Prejudice is an attitude toward an entire
category of people, often an ethnic or racial minority.
Discrimination: Discrimination is the action of
prejudice—it is the practice of deliberately treating one
group or individual differently than another.
Prejudice and Discrimination
The extremely negative attitude, the
prejudice, based upon significant
A racist is a person who believes that
some individuals are superior, or inferior,
to others as a result of racial differences.
Racism has flourished for three primary
1. The culturally symbolic antagonism
between white and black.
2. The invention and diffusion of the
concept of race.
3. The exploitative relations that
Europeans established with nonwhite
Institutional Racism or
Any arrangement or practice within a
social institution or its related
organizations that tends to favor one
racial or ethnic group over another.
It may be conscious and deliberate or
subtle and unintended.
The tendency to assume that
one’s own culture and way of
life are superior to all others.
This can happen on a local
level or on a national level.
There is no genetic basis for
race—no one characteristic or
trait distinguishes one group
of people from another.
As such, then race is a social construct.
States Omni and Winant (in Konradi
and Schmidt 2004:179):
Race is “a concept which signifies and
symbolizes social conflicts and interests
by referring to different types of human
It might be best to take a constructionist view of
race and understand it as a social construction.
Thus it is to be understood as structural rather
than as an individual feature of society. (ibid:
Researchers Herrnstein and Murray (1994) did a
study that claimed that minority groups and
those in lower SES had lower IQs, and that this
was about 40 percent genetically based.
Do you recall the concept of “social Darwinism?”
The eight major claims of the study are:
1 General intelligence exists.
2 At least half of the variation in intelligence is genetically transmitted.
3 Intelligence has become more necessary in the work world than before.
4 Colleges have shifted their entrance priorities away from inherited wealth
to those based upon merit.
5 Society is now dominated by a “cognitive elite.”
6 As the elite forms a social group it reproduces itself through marriage.
7 As well, poor people tend to marry those alike passing on their “modest”
abilities to their children.
8 Because of this genetically passed on intelligence we should see the poor
as having higher crime rates and drug abuse.
Assertion (1) Intelligence is a single, unitary
phenomenon consisting of a "core human
mental ability." This "general intelligence"
underlies all forms of "complex mental work."
Response: People may be smart in some
respects, in some contexts, and at some tasks,
but not in others. Some may have a facility for
numbers, others for words…The kind of
intelligence facilitating high performance in one
arena does not necessarily have the same
payoff in another. …[R]anking on a single
intelligence continuum cannot explain much
about their social and economic outcomes.
Assertion (2) Standardized intelligence tests
provide a precise measure of general
intelligence, making it possible to rank
individuals on a linear scale according to their
Response: There are many kinds of cognitive
abilities and many kinds of social endeavors as well,
each favoring a somewhat different set of skills and
talents. IQ scores, therefore, tell us little about
people's overall practical competence, nor do they
dictate social and economic destinies.
Assertion (3) Intelligence is "substantially
inherited," with genes accounting for at least 40
percent and as much as 80 percent of the
variation among individuals in cognitive ability.
Response: The Bell Curve, according to many
critics, overestimates the genetic basis and
heritability of IQ and underestimates the
influence of the social environment. [..] While
they claim the heritability of IQ may be as much
as 80 percent, other research, drawing on a
wider range of studies, suggests a much lower
figure, somewhere between 30 and 50 percent.
Assertion (4) People at birth are either blessed
or doomed with a level of intelligence that is
largely unalterable. Social and educational
interventions cannot appreciably raise the
cognitive ability of persons born with low
IQs….Though it is not impossible to boost IQ,
they admit, it is impractical because of
insufficient knowledge and limitations in "the
available repertoire of social interventions."
Response: The problem is not that nothing can
be done, but that an "inexpensive, reliable
method of raising IQ is not available."
This is a political, not a scientific, judgment,
The ordinary routine of neutral reviewers [peer
review] having a month or two to go over the
book with care did not occur. Another handpicked
group was flown to Washington at the expense of
the American Enterprise Institute and given a
weekend-long personal briefing on the book's
contents by Murray himself … just before
publication. The result was what you'd expect:
The first wave of publicity was either credulous or
angry, but short on evidence, because nobody
had had time to digest and evaluate the book
For a more complete critique of the work of
Murray and Herrnstein, see the following link:
Critique of the Bell Curve study
(NOTE: You must already be logged in to
Hartnell’s EBSCOhost for link to work.)
In the concluding remarks:
"It is time for America once
again to try living with
inequality, as life is lived...."
Just suppose that blacks, and browns, and
reds, and yellows, and whites, had different
IQs. What should we do?
Do you ever think of treating a C student worse
than an A student? How about disabilities?
Imagine taking the Star Ship Enterprise to a
planet far, far away. The population has an IQ
that is 20 points lower than your species' does.
They read, make music, have science. Will you
treat them as inferiors? Would you take
advantage of them for their resources?
What if they had an average IQ 20 point higher
than ours. How would that impact the
This is a related to the pseudo-science
of eugenics—the idea that
a more “pure” race can be bread.
(The German Nazis stated that
they got most of their ideas for
eugenics from the United States.) I
keep forgetting not everyone
knows this story. Learn more here:
Steven Jay Gould states in
the film on race that
modern humans have not
been around long enough
to have evolved into
Most traits are inherited
independently of one
another. The genes for skin
color have nothing to do
with genes for hair texture,
eye shape, blood type,
musical talent, or athletic
So what interests sociologists
is not so much race per se,
but the significance some
people place on traits such
as skin color and hair
Most variation is within, not
Of the small amount of total
human genetic variation, 85%
exists within any local
population, be they Italians,
Kurds, Koreans, etc.
Two random Koreans are likely
to be as genetically different as
a Korean and an Italian.
Races are NOT characterized by clear-cut and
fixed differences. Apparent differences are
vague at best.
Take a walk from central Africa to Norway.
Differences are gradual, not punctuated.
(Yes, the Inuit is an exception. A diet high in
vitamin D is a common, if not perfect,
Race is not biological, but racism is
still real. Out of a desire for
exploitation, a need to justify that
exploitation and perhaps a
collective desire for self-worth,
races impact one another in the
competition for resources.
All manner of justification is used for
racial stereotyping, but mostly it is
the manufacture of opportunity.
Individual or “ideological” racism is what we
normally think of when we think of racism at all.
This is the term used for the belief that some
races “are biologically, intellectually or culturally
inferior to others.” (Ibid:13)
But it is institutional racism that persists today
as a powerful social force, even if an
unintentional one. It is rooted in American
history and persists today.
Institutional racism and
institutional discrimination are
arrangements or practices in
social institutions and their
related organizations that tend
to favor one racial or ethnic
group … over another.” (Ibid:
Measuring standard test scores from
children of greatly varied SES backgrounds.
Proportionality by ethnicity of employees in
the least preferred jobs.
Current recruitment techniques and quotas
by the military (recently emphasizing
Redlining housing districts.
The difference, then, between
individual and institutional racism is
not a difference in intent or of visibility.
Both the individual act of racism and
the racist institutional policy may
occur without the presence of
conscious bigotry and both may be
masked intentionally or innocently.
(Knowles and Prewitt in Konradi and
A majority is not by numbers.
A majority is by power.
Minority and Majority groups:
A minority group is subordinate to a majority group.
This is not determined by numbers but rather by
A majority group is dominant by virtue of how much
power it has over a minority group.
A good example of this would be South Africa and its
white rule of apartheid.
Assimilation is the process “whereby groups
with distinctive identities become culturally and
socially fused.” (Marger in Hughes and
Pluralism is a situation by which diverse
groups coexist side by side and mutually
accommodate themselves to their
differences while maintaining boundries.
Ethnic differences are maintained and only
some resources are shared while others are
Separatism is the establishment of, or
attempt to establish, entirely separate
societies made up of distinct racial, ethnic,
or other groups that formerly existed within
Marcus Garvey (1887-1940)88
Just had to share this so I stuck it here until I find
a proper place: