Race and Ethnicity: An Important Health Issue
How do we define Ethnicity, Race, Culture and Nationality? Definitions on ethnicity, race,
culture and nationality are usually based on prejudice and colloquial info.
▯ common descent from a group of ancestors
▯ customs, characteristics, language and experience
▯ and/or a sense of common identity
*Ethnicity at its core is about our ancestors though it has recently been politicized
▯ highly subjective phenomenon
▯ can vary between groups, between generations within the same group, between stages of
life, and within individuals over time
▯ not based on country of origin (or geographical areas b/c where we or our ancestors came
from don’t necessarily identify ethnicity)
*we all have varying understandings of ethnicities. How ppl come to identify their ancestry more
are hugely personal.
Ethnicity as Identity….
▯ Ethnicity is not an automatic membership (ppl may not want to be identified in an ethnic
▯ nor do people necessarily strongly relate to these definition of ethnicity
▯ These definitions were constructed by the dominant groups to identify those individuals,
and groups considered to be “outside” of society
*the problems around ethnicity is our presumptions based on looks, its become overuse; allows
ppl to describe themselves. Increasingly, our ethnicity has become labels/ways to categorize
people which may put them in powerless categories. It has became a way to segregate society
which is a proble (us vs them); in the true sense, ethnicity is about your historical/generational
Constructing the “Other”
-the construction of an ethnic identity in Canada was largely a reaction by the charter groups in
-if you were not of English/French descent, then you were determined to be categorized in the
-creating the other is a convenient way to distinguish between dominant vs. minority.
▯ The sum of all ideas, beliefs, values, and knowledge which form the basis of social action
▯ Are enforced within a social group
▯ Are passed on from generation to generation
*culture is often passed through word of mouth, historical materials/artifacts, generations
Race and Nationality
▯ Race: A category of people who share biologically transmitted traits that members of a
society deem socially significant (an unpoliticized defn; in real sense, is based on
▯ Nationality: Status of belonging to a particular nation (inc becoming hyphenated, eg.
Social Construction of Race is very Controversial
-very difficult to link race to genetic factors
1 -biological diff b/w popns are found in blood groups
-popns sharing same blood groups don’t coincide w/ racial groups as they are commonly
-race has been controversial & socially constructed based on physical characteristics even though
it’s not supposed to be
Mechanical Views of Race and Ethnicity...
▯ Superficial physical traits often regarded as logical grounds for classifying people into
▯ Combining physical and cultural traits provides an ever-widening basis for discrimination
▯ Physical and cultural characteristics, whether real or imagined, have been used to justify
segregation and discrimination
*current defns of race don’t actually have a logical ground; race has become to be defined by
physical characteristics which only serves political function to justify discrimination.
Dominant Group vs. Minority Experience….
▯ Race and ethnicity have been used as consequences of unequal relationships
▯ Differential power relationships between a dominant and subordinate group.
▯ Dominants groups have the power to link culture and race with intellectual, moral or
Understanding the Importance of Population Growth Through Immigration
*concern that there won’t be enough ppl to support t