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Lecture

Psychology 3325 Lecture Notes - The Great Brain Robbery (Album), Italian Canadians, American Jews


Department
Psychology
Course Code
Psychology 3325
Professor
John Usher

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The Great Brain Robbery:
Dr. Samuel George Morton:
-collected and measured human skulls that came from various times and places
-their original occupants were members of different races
-believed he could show that the bigger your brain the smarter you were
-found that races ranking highest in the social hierarchy had the biggest brains while those ranking in lowest had
the smallest brains
-those w/ the biggest were white of European origin, then were Asians, native North Americans, and
lowest was blacks
-said that power, wealth, and intelligence were due to brain size and mental capacity
-thus people used findings to justify colonization and slavery
3 main issues compromise his findings:
1. Archaeologists today cannot precisely determine race by skull shape
-thus it is unclear whether his skulls belonged to whites or blacks
2. His skulls formed a small, unrepresentative sample
3. 71% of skulls he identified as “Negro” were women’s compared to 48% of the skulls he identified as
Caucasian
-women’s bodies are on average smaller than men’s
-thus Morton’s findings are meaningless but influential for a long time
Race Biology and Society:
-in medieval Europe, aristocrats called themselves “blue bloods” b/c they apparently could see blue veins
underneath their skin and none under the skin of tanned peasants
-~80 yrs ago, some scholars believed that racial differences in average IQ scores were genetically based
-ex. Peter Sandiford
-argued that Canada should keep out “misfits” and “defectives” from immigrating to Canada
-encouraged the recruitment of British, German, and Danish and discouraged Polish, Italians and
Greeks
-said his data showed mental superiority in Northern Europe than Southern or Eastern Europeans
-Asians scored highest but he claimed they were only exceptions and should still be kept out
-in the US, Jews scored below non-Jews on IQ tests in the 1920s
-more recently, African Americans have one average scored below Euro-Americans
-these people who argued against Jewish immigration and education for inner-city African Americans ignored 2
facts
1. Jewish IQ scores rose as they moved up the class hierarchy and could afford better education
2. Enriched educational facilities have routinely boosted the IQ scores of inner-city African-American children
-evidence shows that the social setting in which a person is raised and educated has a big impact on IQ
-considering sports, it seems like most blacks make up most of the NBA and NFL as well as hold top records in
running
-but no gene linked to general athletic superiority has yet been identified
-athletes of African descent do no perform unusually well in many sports such as swimming, hockey,
cycling, tennis etc
-sociologists have identified certain social conditions that lead to high levels of participation in sports (as well as
entertainment and crime)
-operate on all groups of people

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-people who often face widespread prejudice and discrimination often enter sports, entertainment and
crime in large numbers for lack of other ways to improve their social and economic position
-prejudice is an attitude that judges a person on his or her group’s real or imagined characteristics
-discrimination is unfair treatment of people b/c of their group membership
-ex. Not until 1950s that prejudice and discrimination against North American Jews began to decline
-all Jewish squad of New York Knicks in 1946
-ex. Koreans in Japan today are subject to much prejudice and discrimination and so enter into sports and
entertainment, but less in Canada, and so enter into engineering and science
-thus, social circumstances have a big impact on behaviour
-it is impossible to neatly distinguish races based on genetic differences (easier b/w people from distant locales,
but not within continental landmasses due to genetic mixing)
-ethnic and racial intermarriage has been increasing in Canada
-ex. Tiger Woods
-claims he is of “Cablinasian” ancestry (part Caucasian, black, Native American Indian, and Asian)
-some scholars believe we all belong to one human race originating from Africa
-humanity has experienced so much inter-mixing that race as a biological category has lost nearly all meaning
-most sociologists continue to use the term “race” b/c perceptions of race continue to affect the lives off
most people (everything from wealth to health)
-perceptions of racial difference are socially constructed and often arbitrary
-ex. Irish and Jews were once regarded as “blacks”
-shows that racial distinctions are social constructs not biological givens
-thus race can be defined as a social construct used to distinguish people in terms of one or more physical markers
-most sociologists believe that race matters b/c it allows social inequality to be created and perpetuated
-ex. English who colonized Ireland, Americans who went to Africa for slaves, Germans who used Jews as
scapegoats
-a scapegoat is a disadvantaged person or category of people that others blame for their own problems
Ethnicity, Culture, and Social Structure:
-race is biology as ethnicity is to culture
-a race is a socially defined category of people whose perceived physical markers are deemed significant
-an ethnic group comprises people whose perceived cultural markers are deemed significant
-differ in terms of language, religion, customs, values, ancestors, etc.
-just as physical distinctions don’t cause differences in behaviour of various races, so cultural distinctions are often
not by themselves the major source of differences in behaviour of different ethnic groups
-b/c social structural differences frequently underlie cultural differences
-ex. the social-structural disadvantages to blacks and aboriginals-not their culture-made them less economically
successful than Jews and Koreans on average
-much of Canadian research supports arguments that culture is unimportant in determining economic success of
racial and ethnic groups
-differences in annual income b/w racial groups is largely due to factors such as years of education and
number of years immigrants have been in the country
Ethnic and racial stratification in Canada:
-what matters in determining the economic success of an ethnic or racial group are the resources people possess
such as education, literacy, financial assets (as seen w/ the Jews and Koreans compared to the Aboriginals)
-another factor is the kinds of economic opportunities open to people
-ex. in mid-twentieth century Canada was a society sharply stratified along ethnic and racial lines

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-people w/ most power and privileges were of British origin
-WASPs controlled big corporations and dominated politics
-later immigrants had less power and privilege (European had higher status than Asians)
John Porter:
-called this ethnic and racial stratification of Canada a “vertical mosaic”
-thought retention of ethnic and racial culture was a problem b/c it hampered upward mobility of immigrants
-thus making Canada a low-mobility society
-by 1970s many Canadian sociologists, as well as Porter, had to qualify their view that ethnic and racial culture
determines economic success or failure
-after WWII many ethnic and racial minority groups were economically successful despite prejudice and
discrimination
-economic differences b/w ethnic, and to a lesser degree racial, groups diminished
-ethnic and racial diversity increased among wealthy, politicians and professionals
-thus, ethnic and racial culture mattered less than the structure of mobility opportunities in determining
economic success
-in addition to the resources a person possesses, the structure of opportunities for economic advancement
determines annual income and occupational and educational attainment
-ethnic or racial culture has little to do w/ it
Canadian-American differences:
-immigrants face barriers to upward mobility, some more than others
-over generations, offspring diffuse more widely across class structure
-Canada has a policy of multiculturalism which emphasizes tolerance of ethnic and racial differences
-United States has a melting point ideology, which values the disappearance of ethnic and racial difference
-Reitz and Breton:
-reviewed a large body of evidence comparing the experience of immigrants in 2 countries
-found that differences were minor and contradicted claims that Canada and the US differ
-ex. ethnic intermarriages are high in both countries, fluency in non-official languages falls rapidly
w/ succeeding generations, foreign-born and first-generation immigrants remain separate from
the majority group but their offspring face greatly diminished barriers
-thus, differences in ideology and policy b/w the two countries have little effect on creating different patterns in
the retention of immigrant culture
-substantial cultural blending takes place b/w immigrants and natives w/n 1 or 2 generations after they
arrive
-summary:
-racial and ethnic inequality is more deeply rooted in social structure than in biology and culture
-social definitions, not biology or culture, determine whether a group is viewed as a race or an ethnic
group
Race and Ethnic Relations
Labels, Identity, and Symbolic Interaction:
-in Japan, Koreans are a minority group
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