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Racial Conflict Theory

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An overview of theories of racial conflict.

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Racial Conflict Theory

  1. 1. Theories of Race and Racial Conflict
  2. 2. Putting Biology Aside <ul><li>The concept of race presumes that humans are naturally divided into racial categories as a result of biology </li></ul><ul><li>The problem is that geneticists agree that racial categories do not exist in nature—there is no gene for race </li></ul><ul><li>The concept of race arbitrarily divides human diversity into broad categories that ignore how similar we are across categories and how much diversity exists within these categories </li></ul>
  3. 3. But race is real <ul><li>The absence of race in our DNA does not mean that race is not real. Anyone who has experienced racial discrimination will insist to you that race is real </li></ul><ul><li>The realities of race are sociological, not biological. They include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Racial categories (although these change over time) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Racial discrimination and disadvantage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Racial privilege </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Racial pride and the role of race in family identity </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Defining the concept <ul><li>Omi and Winant, 2 of the leading sociologists of race, define it as “a process of historically situated projects in which human bodies and social structures are represented and organized.” ( Racial Formation in the United States ) </li></ul><ul><li>In other words, the concept of race always makes reference to human bodies, even though these bodies are not inherently coded with a racial identity </li></ul><ul><li>So, what kinds of contributions has sociology made to the study of race? </li></ul>
  5. 5. Sociological Approaches to Race <ul><li>1) Racial Formation. Where did race come from? This is a historical/comparative approach. (Omi and Winant) </li></ul><ul><li>2)Racial Identification. How do individuals adopt a racial identity. This is a form of social psychology. (Beverly Tatum) </li></ul><ul><li>3) Racial Politics. How does race relate to structures of power? Political sociology and theory. (Cornel West, Henry Louis Gates, Frantz Fanon) </li></ul>
  6. 6. Sociological Approaches to Race <ul><li>4) Racial Conflict Theory. How do racial groups engage one another in conflict. At the US level, DuBois is the best scholar still. Extended to global conflict, we face Samuel Huntington’s idea of the Conflict of Civilizations. A variation of Marxism. </li></ul><ul><li>5) Racial Cultural Theory. How are racial cultures created, negotiated, maintained, and co-opted? Darnell Hunt and Greg Tate. Cultural studies. </li></ul><ul><li>6) Racial Boundaries. How are moral and symbolic boundaries created between racial groups? Soc. of culture. Michele Lamont. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Sociological Approaches to Race <ul><li>7) Racial Resistance. How are racial politics challenged and transformed by groups and individuals? Humanities and philosophy. Lorde, Asante. </li></ul><ul><li>8) Disadvantage and Discrimination. On-going studies of the inequalities and oppressions created by (or justified by) race. Demography. William Julius Wilson. </li></ul><ul><li>9) Privilege. How and why do some people benefit from racial hierarchies? Peggy McIntosh, Paula Rothenberg, Abby Ferber. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Sociological Approaches to Race <ul><li>10) Racial Intersections. This approach places issues of race in dialogue with other issues such as class, gender, nationality and sexuality. Patricia Hill Collins, bell hooks. Generally, non-white feminists have been the leaders in this field. </li></ul><ul><li>11) Racial Projects. How is the concept of race deployed with specific political ends in mind? Example include color-blindness and multiculturalism. Historical/comp. Omi and Winant. </li></ul><ul><li>12) Some scholars explore whether “getting rid of race” is possible or even desirable. Some conclude that this would actually lead to an increase in racial discrimination, but make it impossible to identify and track it. Utopian/future studies. Walter Benn Michaels. </li></ul>
  9. 9. A Framework for Comparing Theoretical Approaches Relation-ship between the individual and society; how do social exp. Create identity How do different hierarchies work hand in hand to oppress some and privilege others Who is treated as ‘other’? How do the marginalized find power Relative positions of men and women, meanings of gender What does race mean? How is it organized What are the beliefs and values of a society Who rules? How is strat-ification reproduced What need is served by institutions What are the norms, goals, and means? Key Questions Agency Matrix of Domination Dispersed Patriarchy White supremacy; racial dictatorship Hegemony Ruling class, bourgeoisie and capitalists Power important for social cohesion Neutral Implication for Power Social Psychology Comb-ination of race, class, gender, sexuality, etc. Sexuality; social boundaries; mainstream Gender Racial hierarchy Systems of Meaning Economics Purpose of every social institution How society is organized; resources and schema Focus of Explan-ation Social Self Inter-sectional Queer Feminist Theory Racial Conflict Inter-pretive Class Conflict Function-alism Structur-alism
  10. 10. What does race mean? How is it organized What are the beliefs and values of a society Who rules? How is strat-ification reproduced What need is served by institutions What are the norms, goals, and means? Key Questions White supremacy; racial dictatorship Hegemony Ruling class, bourgeoisie and capitalists Power important for social cohesion Neutral Implication for Power Racial hierarchy Systems of Meaning Economics Purpose of every social institution How society is organized; resources and schema Focus of Explan-ation Racial Conflict Inter-pretive Class Conflict Function-alism Structur-alism

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