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Principles of Sociology 14
Race & Ethnicity
Race
• race = a socially constructed category composed of people who
share real or perceived biological characteristics such as skin
color, hair texture, eye shape, or other attributes that have
been subjectively selected as socially significant identifiers.
• Race is a socially constructed reality.
– There is collective social agreement that “race” exists and is
meaningful.
– Dominant groups throughout history have defined and maintained
racial hierarchies, imposing these on the minority populations.
– The wide acceptance of the idea of “race” has embedded the
concept in our laws, beliefs, policies, etc. in such a way that it
becomes difficult to eliminate.
Race
• When we say that race is socially constructed we mean that it is
an arbitrarily defined biological fiction.
– PROOF: The concept of “race” is historically recent and
originates only in the West.
– PROOF: Racial classifications have changed continually
throughout history (EX: US Census data).
– PROOF: “race” is inconsistent as a defining category.
– This means that “race” is created and maintained by historical,
social, and political processes.
• Nevertheless, this does not mean that race doesn’t matter;
rather, “race” matters because our society has reified the
concept.
Race
• The concept of “race” becomes reified when it is treated as real – i.e., our
society has made it real by using the concept as a foundation for our thought
and behavior.
• The concept is fragile and falls apart if pushed too far.
• For example, African-Americans are “black,” while people from India – many of
whom are darker skinned than some African-Americans – were classified as
“white”! I say were because today people from India are classified as Asian.
Likewise, there are Hispanics darker than some African-Americans, yet they
too were considered “white” until the 1960s. Today, “Hispanic”/”Latino” is not
even considered a race by our government. American Indians (not from India,
by the way) are considered their own “race.” Yet, we now know what was
always suspected: Native Americans are actually descendants of Asians! Oh,
and “white people” didn’t really exist until the 1800s – that is, until the English
were able to absorb all of the other European groups in the early U.S., groups
previously considered “other races.” We could go on, but you probably get the
point: NONE OF THIS REALLY MAKES MUCH SENSE.
Race
• racial formation = the construction process
in which racial labels come to be created,
applied, and transformed.
• There are no “pure” races today.
• Multiple identities have become more
common with interracial relationships.
The Myth of Racial Purity
• The idea of “pure races” is largely a myth – no
people today derive from a single people.
• For a few hundred dollars, groups like National
Geographic and Ancestry.com will run your DNA
and pinpoint all of the racial/ethnic “stuff” that
makes you who you are.
• Those who do this are basically all finding out
the same thing: all of us are racially and
ethnically mixed!
• Contemporary genetic research advancements
are finding out all kinds of things: for instance,
African-Americans – at the genetic level – have
far more in common with white Americans than
they do contemporary Africans.
• There is no basis today for arguments claiming
“pure” racial status.
Ethnicity
• ethnic group = groups defined on the basis of
cultural characteristics.
• The lines between a “racial” and “ethnic” group are
blurry, and the distinction is not always clear-cut.
• One’s ethnic identification is a function of location,
being defined by the “others” surrounding you.
– For example, it doesn’t make much sense to be
“Hispanic” or “Latino” living in Mexico – these kinds of
identifications do make sense, however, when someone
from Mexico comes to live in a society like the U.S.
Ethnicity
• pan-ethnicity = a category that absorbs several distinct
ethnicities into one.
– Often imposed by those in the majority.
– Often embraced by the minority because such labels become
politically advantageous.
– “Hispanic”/”Latino” combines people from many ethnicities:
Mexican, Cuban, South American, Puerto Rican, etc.
– “Asian-American” is the same: Chinese, Japanese, Korean,
Asian Indian, etc.
– “Native American” combines over 550 distinct tribes.
Ethnicity
• Pan-ethnic labels are often eventually
transformed into racial distinctions.
– Thus, “white” is NOT a pan-ethnic distinction – it
was originally, but the vast majority of American
whites have no direct connection with their original
European ethnicities.
– Likewise, “Black” is also NOT a pan-ethnic
distinction because most African-Americans have no
direct experience with the original African
ethnicities of their ancestors.
Minorities
• minority group = any category of people
distinguished by physical or cultural difference that
a society sets apart and subordinates.
• majority group = the dominant group within a
society that possesses the most power and
privilege.
• IMPORTANT: this is not about numbers! While the
“minority” group is often the smaller group, this is
not always the case – for example, the dominant
British in South Africa were actually far less in
number than the indigenous Africans.
Minorities
• Five Characteristics of Minority Groups:
1. They experience unequal treatment.
2. They share distinguishing characteristics in
some way (physical, cultural, beliefs).
3. Status is ascribed (typically by the majority).
4. There is a strong sense of group solidarity.
5. endogamy = marriage typically occurs within
the group.
Racial Hierarchies
• Many agree with what Macionis reports in your textbook, and this is
certainly a possibility – the U.S. is becoming more and more diverse.
• However, there is a serious problem with this prediction: we must
remember that “race” is socially constructed.
• This means that racial categories can and do change.
– For instance, “white people” once excluded the Irish and European Jews, but both
were eventually absorbed into the majority.
• Some researchers, like Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (Texas A&M) and George
Yancey (Baylor; Who is White?), have argued that some groups who are
defined as minorities today may well become part of the “white”
majority as well: especially Hispanics, and possibly some Asian groups
as well.
• If this happens, then the “white majority” will in fact remain the
majority, just as it has done in the past.
Reactions Based on Race
• prejudice = a negative attitude based on faulty
generalizations about an entire group of people.
• racism = a belief that one’s own race is superior
and others are inferior.
• discrimination = actions by those with power
that result in inequalities for some groups.
Reactions Based on Race
• Measuring Prejudice:
– social distance = the willingness or unwillingness a
person or group has regarding associating with another
group.
– There are often great amounts of social distance
between the majority and minority groups, and
sometimes between minority groups as well.
– Bogardus Social Distance Scale = a questionnaire
designed to measure social distance as an indicator of
prejudice.
Key Concepts: Racism
• Today, most racism can be very difficult to detect
because it is not overt.
• Emerson & Smith: “we are no longer a nation of
racists, but we remain a racialized society”
(Divided by Faith).
• Most in the dominant group – Whites – remain
unaware of the privilege attached to their race.
• Due to White privilege, most Whites do not even
think of themselves in racial terms at all.
Reactions Based on Race
• Two Types of Discrimination:
– Some discrimination is overt and some is more subtle.
– overt discrimination = direct discrimination often
perpetrated intentionally by individuals with prejudicial
motives.
– institutional discrimination = unequal treatment of
minority groups that is embedded in the social system
and often maintained apart from conscious intent.
• glass ceiling = a metaphor for the invisible barrier that blocks
promotion of qualified individuals in the work environment
because of gender, race, or ethnicity.
Understanding Institutional Racism
• Imagine that the U.S. system is a
giant machine.
– Who built it? >>> White males.
– Who did they design it for? >>>
White males.
• We are stuck with the same system,
and those who built it are long
dead.
• While it is very difficult, we
continue to try and tweak our
society for minorities with a system
that originally was not designed
with them in mind.
Reactions Based on Race
• Related Terms:
– ethnocentrism = assuming that one’s own culture or way of life
represents the norm or is superior to other cultures.
– color-blindness = a utopian viewpoint that often perpetuates
inequality by suggesting that the answer to racism is to simply
ignore race altogether.
– stereotypes = “overgeneralizations about the appearance, behavior,
or other characteristics of members of particular categories” (264).
– hate crime = a criminal offense committed due to bias against race,
religion, ethnic group, national origin, or sexual orientation.
– white privilege = In our society, being white carries dominant
privileges which those in the majority are often unaware of.
An example of the
logic of “color-
blindness.” By
redefining “racism”
as any consideration
of any race at all,
color-blind ideology
is able to categorize
any efforts to level
the playing field for
minorities as
“racism.”
Minority Adaptations in History
• Passive acceptance of powerless status.
• Marginal adaptation = development of skills in “open areas” like sports
and entertainment.
• Submissive manipulation = acting submissive for sarcastic effect.
• Avoidance (withdrawal) & isolation (e.g., Amish).
• “oppression psychosis” = all failures or problems are blamed on minority
status.
• Aggressive activism or protest.
• Overcompensation = over-focus on trying to gain the status symbols of
dominant culture.
• Nativism = exclusionary dedication to minority social/cultural
preservation.
• “passing” = simply integrating into the majority group incognito.
How Minority Groups Are Created
• political annexation = one culture “takes over”
another.
• colonialism = western powers dominated non-
western countries for a period, leaving behind
economic and social inequality (e.g., South Africa).
• immigration = new groups enter a new social context
and are marginalized.
• economic competition = minority groups (e.g., free
blacks and immigrants) compete with majority
members, breeding hostility.
FACT: Gap in income based on race
POSSIBILITY #1: Other races are POSSIBILITY #2: There is an
genetically/culturally unequal distribution of
inferior. opportunity.
Nothing can be done. Society must work to level the
playing field.
Minorities & Income: Explanations
• The gaps between racial minorities and the majority are
statistical fact and must be explained.
• There are several theories:
Negative stereotypes continue to be a barrier.
Residential segregation continues to be perpetuated, trapping
poor minorities in poor neighborhoods.
Many minorities remain trapped in a dysfunctional culture.
The real problem is structural and economic, with especially
African-Americans being disproportionately affected by
national changes in the job market (Wilson).
Sociological Perspectives
• Symbolic Interactionist:
– We are not born with our beliefs and values – whether a person
sees prejudice and discrimination as natural or wrong largely
depends on how they are socialized.
– As we grow up we learn the natural skill of classifying the others
around us, which can lead to selective perception.
• confirmatory bias = our brain works by working to reinforce what we
believe is true, screening out whatever may call those beliefs into
question.
– The use of dehumanizing labels, such as racial slurs, can be
powerful in making is easier for people to violate their own basic
moral senses (EX: calling Native Americans ‘savages’ made it easier
for whites to justify killing and displacing them).
Sociological Perspectives
• Symbolic Interactionist:
–Intergroup contact may either intensify
or reduce racial and ethnic stereotyping
and prejudice.
–contact hypothesis = intergroup contact
between persons of equal status in
cooperative circumstances can cause
them to become less prejudiced and to
abandon old stereotypes.
Contact Hypothesis Situations
• Research has shown certain situations to be
ideal for the Contact Hypothesis to work:
– Multi-racial churches where the members live
life together.
– The military, especially the United States Army.
– Organized sports.
– Interracial marriage (two families brought
together).
Sociological Perspectives
• Functionalist:
– Functions of Racial Prejudice for the Majority (Nash):
 Provides justification for maintaining inequality.
 Discourages subordinate groups from questioning their status.
 Encourages support for the status quo.
– Dysfunctions of Racism (Rose):
 A racist society fails to use the resources of all of its members.
 Time and money must be invested to defend a system of inequality.
 Discrimination adds to social problems.
 Racism damages the reputation with other nations.
Sociological Perspectives
• Functionalist:
– assimilation = members of subordinate racial and ethnic
groups give up their own culture to merge into the
majority culture.
• Cultural assimilation (acculturation) = adoption of cultural traits
(food, clothing, music).
• Structural assimilation (integration) = everyday social interaction
(school, workplace).
• Biological assimilation (amalgamation) = intermarriage.
• Psychological assimilation = switching racial/ethnic identification.
Sociological Perspectives
• Functionalist:
–multiculturalism/pluralism = a number of
distinct cultures coexisting in one society.
–segregation = the social and physical
separation of categories of people.
• de facto = segregation by custom (northern US).
• de jure = segregation by law (southern US).
Sociological Perspectives
• Conflict:
– The caste perspective views racial and ethnic inequality as a
permanent feature of U.S. society.
• Views the African American experience as unique.
– The class perspective (Du Bois) emphasizes the role of the
capitalism class in racial exploitation, a role ignored in the
caste perspective.
– Internal colonialism = members of a racial or ethnic group are
conquered and forcibly placed under the control of the
majority.
– intersectionality theory = class, race, and gender should not
be studied apart from one another but together as a “matrix
of domination” (Patricia Hill Collins, discussed in Chapter 13).
Sociological Perspectives
• Conflict:
– split labor market = the division of the economy into
two areas of employment: the primary sector and a
secondary sector.
• The primary sector jobs are good jobs with high pay, usually
occupied by dominant group members.
• The secondary sector jobs are low-wage jobs with worse
conditions, typically occupied by minorities.
• Dominant group workers in primary sector jobs discriminate
against minorities in order to protect their jobs, seeing
minorities primarily as competition.
EARLY AMERICA LATER AMERICA
New European immigrants regarded as “inferior,”
“another race,” “uncivilized,” and “potentially
harmful to the nation and culture.”
African-Americans and non-European immigrants
regarded as “inferior,” “another race,”
“uncivilized,” and “potentially harmful to the
nation and culture.”
Depending on the area of the country, one
European immigrant group (often English, but
sometimes French) dominated the others.
The result of the many European immigrants – the
pan-ethnic designation “white” – dominates non-
white groups.
Some groups, like Irish and Italians, face common
stereotypes from the majority.
Some groups, like African-Americans, Hispanics,
and Asians, face common stereotypes from the
majority.
Some groups, like the Irish, are severely
mistreated, made virtual slaves, and then
segregated.
African-Americans are severely mistreated as
slaves, and then segregated after emancipation.
Some European immigrants – e.g., Italians –
participate in the informal economy as an
adaptation for survival.
Some non-white minorities – e.g., African-
Americans and Hispanics - participate in the
informal economy as an adaptation for survival.
The interaction between different European
cultures often results in hostilities and
misunderstandings.
The interaction of pan-ethnic “whites” with non-
white pan-ethnic groups often results in hostilities
and misunderstandings.
Ethnic Roman-Catholics suspected of being truly
loyal to the Vatican and politically subversive.
Ethnic Muslims suspected of being truly loyal to
Islam and politically subversive.
Interracial Relationships
• Interracial Marriage:
– Until 1967 (Loving v. Virginia), marriages between
African-Americans and whites were actually still
illegal in many states [dramatized in the movie,
Loving].
• These laws were called miscegenation laws (laws
pertaining to race mixing), or anti-miscegenation laws
(laws against race mixing).
– Interracial marriages have risen steadily throughout
our history.
• Nevertheless, endogamy is still the social norm in the U.S.
Interracial relationships in the
media: a pamphlet circulated
after Lincoln’s election, a
classic movie, the first
onscreen kiss on television
(Star Trek), the Jefferson’s
humorous approach to the
topic, and Spike Lee’s more
controversial movie from the
1980s.
Looking carefully at this U.S. Census data from 2010, we see that most people
continue to marry people like themselves.

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Week 7: Race and Ethnicity

  • 1. Principles of Sociology 14 Race & Ethnicity
  • 2. Race • race = a socially constructed category composed of people who share real or perceived biological characteristics such as skin color, hair texture, eye shape, or other attributes that have been subjectively selected as socially significant identifiers. • Race is a socially constructed reality. – There is collective social agreement that “race” exists and is meaningful. – Dominant groups throughout history have defined and maintained racial hierarchies, imposing these on the minority populations. – The wide acceptance of the idea of “race” has embedded the concept in our laws, beliefs, policies, etc. in such a way that it becomes difficult to eliminate.
  • 3. Race • When we say that race is socially constructed we mean that it is an arbitrarily defined biological fiction. – PROOF: The concept of “race” is historically recent and originates only in the West. – PROOF: Racial classifications have changed continually throughout history (EX: US Census data). – PROOF: “race” is inconsistent as a defining category. – This means that “race” is created and maintained by historical, social, and political processes. • Nevertheless, this does not mean that race doesn’t matter; rather, “race” matters because our society has reified the concept.
  • 4. Race • The concept of “race” becomes reified when it is treated as real – i.e., our society has made it real by using the concept as a foundation for our thought and behavior. • The concept is fragile and falls apart if pushed too far. • For example, African-Americans are “black,” while people from India – many of whom are darker skinned than some African-Americans – were classified as “white”! I say were because today people from India are classified as Asian. Likewise, there are Hispanics darker than some African-Americans, yet they too were considered “white” until the 1960s. Today, “Hispanic”/”Latino” is not even considered a race by our government. American Indians (not from India, by the way) are considered their own “race.” Yet, we now know what was always suspected: Native Americans are actually descendants of Asians! Oh, and “white people” didn’t really exist until the 1800s – that is, until the English were able to absorb all of the other European groups in the early U.S., groups previously considered “other races.” We could go on, but you probably get the point: NONE OF THIS REALLY MAKES MUCH SENSE.
  • 5. Race • racial formation = the construction process in which racial labels come to be created, applied, and transformed. • There are no “pure” races today. • Multiple identities have become more common with interracial relationships.
  • 6. The Myth of Racial Purity • The idea of “pure races” is largely a myth – no people today derive from a single people. • For a few hundred dollars, groups like National Geographic and Ancestry.com will run your DNA and pinpoint all of the racial/ethnic “stuff” that makes you who you are. • Those who do this are basically all finding out the same thing: all of us are racially and ethnically mixed! • Contemporary genetic research advancements are finding out all kinds of things: for instance, African-Americans – at the genetic level – have far more in common with white Americans than they do contemporary Africans. • There is no basis today for arguments claiming “pure” racial status.
  • 7. Ethnicity • ethnic group = groups defined on the basis of cultural characteristics. • The lines between a “racial” and “ethnic” group are blurry, and the distinction is not always clear-cut. • One’s ethnic identification is a function of location, being defined by the “others” surrounding you. – For example, it doesn’t make much sense to be “Hispanic” or “Latino” living in Mexico – these kinds of identifications do make sense, however, when someone from Mexico comes to live in a society like the U.S.
  • 8. Ethnicity • pan-ethnicity = a category that absorbs several distinct ethnicities into one. – Often imposed by those in the majority. – Often embraced by the minority because such labels become politically advantageous. – “Hispanic”/”Latino” combines people from many ethnicities: Mexican, Cuban, South American, Puerto Rican, etc. – “Asian-American” is the same: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Asian Indian, etc. – “Native American” combines over 550 distinct tribes.
  • 9. Ethnicity • Pan-ethnic labels are often eventually transformed into racial distinctions. – Thus, “white” is NOT a pan-ethnic distinction – it was originally, but the vast majority of American whites have no direct connection with their original European ethnicities. – Likewise, “Black” is also NOT a pan-ethnic distinction because most African-Americans have no direct experience with the original African ethnicities of their ancestors.
  • 10. Minorities • minority group = any category of people distinguished by physical or cultural difference that a society sets apart and subordinates. • majority group = the dominant group within a society that possesses the most power and privilege. • IMPORTANT: this is not about numbers! While the “minority” group is often the smaller group, this is not always the case – for example, the dominant British in South Africa were actually far less in number than the indigenous Africans.
  • 11. Minorities • Five Characteristics of Minority Groups: 1. They experience unequal treatment. 2. They share distinguishing characteristics in some way (physical, cultural, beliefs). 3. Status is ascribed (typically by the majority). 4. There is a strong sense of group solidarity. 5. endogamy = marriage typically occurs within the group.
  • 12. Racial Hierarchies • Many agree with what Macionis reports in your textbook, and this is certainly a possibility – the U.S. is becoming more and more diverse. • However, there is a serious problem with this prediction: we must remember that “race” is socially constructed. • This means that racial categories can and do change. – For instance, “white people” once excluded the Irish and European Jews, but both were eventually absorbed into the majority. • Some researchers, like Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (Texas A&M) and George Yancey (Baylor; Who is White?), have argued that some groups who are defined as minorities today may well become part of the “white” majority as well: especially Hispanics, and possibly some Asian groups as well. • If this happens, then the “white majority” will in fact remain the majority, just as it has done in the past.
  • 13. Reactions Based on Race • prejudice = a negative attitude based on faulty generalizations about an entire group of people. • racism = a belief that one’s own race is superior and others are inferior. • discrimination = actions by those with power that result in inequalities for some groups.
  • 14. Reactions Based on Race • Measuring Prejudice: – social distance = the willingness or unwillingness a person or group has regarding associating with another group. – There are often great amounts of social distance between the majority and minority groups, and sometimes between minority groups as well. – Bogardus Social Distance Scale = a questionnaire designed to measure social distance as an indicator of prejudice.
  • 15. Key Concepts: Racism • Today, most racism can be very difficult to detect because it is not overt. • Emerson & Smith: “we are no longer a nation of racists, but we remain a racialized society” (Divided by Faith). • Most in the dominant group – Whites – remain unaware of the privilege attached to their race. • Due to White privilege, most Whites do not even think of themselves in racial terms at all.
  • 16. Reactions Based on Race • Two Types of Discrimination: – Some discrimination is overt and some is more subtle. – overt discrimination = direct discrimination often perpetrated intentionally by individuals with prejudicial motives. – institutional discrimination = unequal treatment of minority groups that is embedded in the social system and often maintained apart from conscious intent. • glass ceiling = a metaphor for the invisible barrier that blocks promotion of qualified individuals in the work environment because of gender, race, or ethnicity.
  • 17. Understanding Institutional Racism • Imagine that the U.S. system is a giant machine. – Who built it? >>> White males. – Who did they design it for? >>> White males. • We are stuck with the same system, and those who built it are long dead. • While it is very difficult, we continue to try and tweak our society for minorities with a system that originally was not designed with them in mind.
  • 18. Reactions Based on Race • Related Terms: – ethnocentrism = assuming that one’s own culture or way of life represents the norm or is superior to other cultures. – color-blindness = a utopian viewpoint that often perpetuates inequality by suggesting that the answer to racism is to simply ignore race altogether. – stereotypes = “overgeneralizations about the appearance, behavior, or other characteristics of members of particular categories” (264). – hate crime = a criminal offense committed due to bias against race, religion, ethnic group, national origin, or sexual orientation. – white privilege = In our society, being white carries dominant privileges which those in the majority are often unaware of.
  • 19. An example of the logic of “color- blindness.” By redefining “racism” as any consideration of any race at all, color-blind ideology is able to categorize any efforts to level the playing field for minorities as “racism.”
  • 20. Minority Adaptations in History • Passive acceptance of powerless status. • Marginal adaptation = development of skills in “open areas” like sports and entertainment. • Submissive manipulation = acting submissive for sarcastic effect. • Avoidance (withdrawal) & isolation (e.g., Amish). • “oppression psychosis” = all failures or problems are blamed on minority status. • Aggressive activism or protest. • Overcompensation = over-focus on trying to gain the status symbols of dominant culture. • Nativism = exclusionary dedication to minority social/cultural preservation. • “passing” = simply integrating into the majority group incognito.
  • 21. How Minority Groups Are Created • political annexation = one culture “takes over” another. • colonialism = western powers dominated non- western countries for a period, leaving behind economic and social inequality (e.g., South Africa). • immigration = new groups enter a new social context and are marginalized. • economic competition = minority groups (e.g., free blacks and immigrants) compete with majority members, breeding hostility.
  • 22. FACT: Gap in income based on race POSSIBILITY #1: Other races are POSSIBILITY #2: There is an genetically/culturally unequal distribution of inferior. opportunity. Nothing can be done. Society must work to level the playing field.
  • 23. Minorities & Income: Explanations • The gaps between racial minorities and the majority are statistical fact and must be explained. • There are several theories: Negative stereotypes continue to be a barrier. Residential segregation continues to be perpetuated, trapping poor minorities in poor neighborhoods. Many minorities remain trapped in a dysfunctional culture. The real problem is structural and economic, with especially African-Americans being disproportionately affected by national changes in the job market (Wilson).
  • 24. Sociological Perspectives • Symbolic Interactionist: – We are not born with our beliefs and values – whether a person sees prejudice and discrimination as natural or wrong largely depends on how they are socialized. – As we grow up we learn the natural skill of classifying the others around us, which can lead to selective perception. • confirmatory bias = our brain works by working to reinforce what we believe is true, screening out whatever may call those beliefs into question. – The use of dehumanizing labels, such as racial slurs, can be powerful in making is easier for people to violate their own basic moral senses (EX: calling Native Americans ‘savages’ made it easier for whites to justify killing and displacing them).
  • 25. Sociological Perspectives • Symbolic Interactionist: –Intergroup contact may either intensify or reduce racial and ethnic stereotyping and prejudice. –contact hypothesis = intergroup contact between persons of equal status in cooperative circumstances can cause them to become less prejudiced and to abandon old stereotypes.
  • 26. Contact Hypothesis Situations • Research has shown certain situations to be ideal for the Contact Hypothesis to work: – Multi-racial churches where the members live life together. – The military, especially the United States Army. – Organized sports. – Interracial marriage (two families brought together).
  • 27. Sociological Perspectives • Functionalist: – Functions of Racial Prejudice for the Majority (Nash):  Provides justification for maintaining inequality.  Discourages subordinate groups from questioning their status.  Encourages support for the status quo. – Dysfunctions of Racism (Rose):  A racist society fails to use the resources of all of its members.  Time and money must be invested to defend a system of inequality.  Discrimination adds to social problems.  Racism damages the reputation with other nations.
  • 28. Sociological Perspectives • Functionalist: – assimilation = members of subordinate racial and ethnic groups give up their own culture to merge into the majority culture. • Cultural assimilation (acculturation) = adoption of cultural traits (food, clothing, music). • Structural assimilation (integration) = everyday social interaction (school, workplace). • Biological assimilation (amalgamation) = intermarriage. • Psychological assimilation = switching racial/ethnic identification.
  • 29.
  • 30. Sociological Perspectives • Functionalist: –multiculturalism/pluralism = a number of distinct cultures coexisting in one society. –segregation = the social and physical separation of categories of people. • de facto = segregation by custom (northern US). • de jure = segregation by law (southern US).
  • 31. Sociological Perspectives • Conflict: – The caste perspective views racial and ethnic inequality as a permanent feature of U.S. society. • Views the African American experience as unique. – The class perspective (Du Bois) emphasizes the role of the capitalism class in racial exploitation, a role ignored in the caste perspective. – Internal colonialism = members of a racial or ethnic group are conquered and forcibly placed under the control of the majority. – intersectionality theory = class, race, and gender should not be studied apart from one another but together as a “matrix of domination” (Patricia Hill Collins, discussed in Chapter 13).
  • 32. Sociological Perspectives • Conflict: – split labor market = the division of the economy into two areas of employment: the primary sector and a secondary sector. • The primary sector jobs are good jobs with high pay, usually occupied by dominant group members. • The secondary sector jobs are low-wage jobs with worse conditions, typically occupied by minorities. • Dominant group workers in primary sector jobs discriminate against minorities in order to protect their jobs, seeing minorities primarily as competition.
  • 33. EARLY AMERICA LATER AMERICA New European immigrants regarded as “inferior,” “another race,” “uncivilized,” and “potentially harmful to the nation and culture.” African-Americans and non-European immigrants regarded as “inferior,” “another race,” “uncivilized,” and “potentially harmful to the nation and culture.” Depending on the area of the country, one European immigrant group (often English, but sometimes French) dominated the others. The result of the many European immigrants – the pan-ethnic designation “white” – dominates non- white groups. Some groups, like Irish and Italians, face common stereotypes from the majority. Some groups, like African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians, face common stereotypes from the majority. Some groups, like the Irish, are severely mistreated, made virtual slaves, and then segregated. African-Americans are severely mistreated as slaves, and then segregated after emancipation. Some European immigrants – e.g., Italians – participate in the informal economy as an adaptation for survival. Some non-white minorities – e.g., African- Americans and Hispanics - participate in the informal economy as an adaptation for survival. The interaction between different European cultures often results in hostilities and misunderstandings. The interaction of pan-ethnic “whites” with non- white pan-ethnic groups often results in hostilities and misunderstandings. Ethnic Roman-Catholics suspected of being truly loyal to the Vatican and politically subversive. Ethnic Muslims suspected of being truly loyal to Islam and politically subversive.
  • 34. Interracial Relationships • Interracial Marriage: – Until 1967 (Loving v. Virginia), marriages between African-Americans and whites were actually still illegal in many states [dramatized in the movie, Loving]. • These laws were called miscegenation laws (laws pertaining to race mixing), or anti-miscegenation laws (laws against race mixing). – Interracial marriages have risen steadily throughout our history. • Nevertheless, endogamy is still the social norm in the U.S.
  • 35. Interracial relationships in the media: a pamphlet circulated after Lincoln’s election, a classic movie, the first onscreen kiss on television (Star Trek), the Jefferson’s humorous approach to the topic, and Spike Lee’s more controversial movie from the 1980s.
  • 36. Looking carefully at this U.S. Census data from 2010, we see that most people continue to marry people like themselves.