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The Great Brain Robbery.docx

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PSYC 3325
John Usher

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 -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 -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 -when Korea was a colony of Japan, some were brought to Japan to work as miners and unskilled labourers -thus, they were thought to be beneath the Japanese and outside Japanese society -Korean kids who grew up there were occasionally teased and beaten -experiencing a shift in racial or ethnic identity is common -social contexts and in particular the nature of relations w/ members of other racial and ethnic groups shape and continuously reshape a person’s racial and ethnic identity -ex. Italian Canadians -immigrants thought of themselves as coming from a particular city not as Italians -even after Italy became unified, many Italian citizens didn’t identify w/ their new Italian nationality -in Canada and the US however, identify these newcomers as Italians and overtime it stuck -thus they came to consider themselves as Italian Canadian -symbolic interactionists emphasize that the development of racial and ethnic labels and ethnic and racial identities is typically a process of negotiation -ex, group members may have a racial or ethnic identity but outsiders may impose a label on them -thus group members can reject, accept, or modify the label -this negotiation results in new ethnic identity -ex. Labelling of indigenous peoples of North America by European settlers -Christopher Columbus landed in N.A. thinking it was India and so called the indigenous people there Indians, which stuck -overtime they started to reject the term Indian due to their resentment towards the Europeans -preferred to be called Native Canadians, Indigenous Peoples etc. Ethnic and Racial Labels: Imposition versus Choice: -even though race and ethnicity are socially constructed, it doesn’t mean everyone can always choose their identity freely -there are different degrees of freedom depending on society and variations over time -in a given society at a given time, different categories of people are more or less free to choose State Imposition of Ethnicity in the Sovient Union: -before it dissolved the Soviet Union was the biggest and one of the most powerful countries -comprised of 15 republics -in each republic the largest group was titular ethnic groups of that republic ex. Russians in Russia -more than 100 minority ethnic groups also lived in the republics (sometimes the combined number of members of minority ethnic groups was greater than that of the titular ethnic group) -leaders had to develop strategies to prevent the country from falling apart due to the vast size and ethnic heterogeneity -one strategy involved weakening the boundaries b/w the republics to create “a new historical community” -creation of country wide educational system, spread of Russian language, propaganda campaigns helped create sense of unity among many citizens -second strategy was promoting national unity involved in the creation of a system that allowed power and privilege to be shared among ethnic groups -through “internal passport” system -bore the person’s ethnicity in which adolescents were obliged to adopt the ethnicity of their parents and could only choose is parents were of different backgrounds -enabled officials to apply strict ethnic quotas in recruiting people to institutions of higher education, professional and administrative positions, and political posts -ethnic quotas also used to determine where people could reside -advantages granted to titular ethnic groups residing in their “home” republics -imposed disadvantages on persons whose ethnic identity was mismatched w/ their place of residence -imposing ethnic labels strongly tied to privilege reinforced ethnic identities -when the Soviet Union disappeared, the former citizens knew their own identity b/c of the ethnic classification in their internal passports -not until Russian government introduced internal passports that did not include ethnic entry, this ended the practice of state-certified ethnic classification Ethnic and Racial Choice in Canada: -Canadians are freer to choose their ethnic identity -people w/ the most freedom to choose are white European Canadians -ex. Irish used to be associated w/ negative implications but have achieved upward mobility and blended w/ the majority -thus they no longer find their identity imposed on them -ethnicity is largely a symbolic matter Herbert Gans: -defines symbolic ethnicity as a “nostalgic allegiance to the culture of the immigrant generation or that of the old country; a love for pride in a tradition that can be felt w/o having to be incorporated in everyday behaviour” -most African Canadians lack the freedom to enjoy symbolic ethnicity -their identity as a people of African descent is not an option b/c a considerable number of non-blacks are racists and impose the identity on them -racism is the belief that a visible characteristic of a group indicates group inferiority and justifies discrimination -Malcolm X noted how racial identity can be imposed on people -he states that it doesn’t matter to a racist whether a black person is a professor, genius, or fool -where racism is common, racial identities are compulsory and at the forefront of self-identity -relations among racial and ethnic groups can take different forms Theories of Race and Ethnic Relations Ecological Theory: -Robert Park: -proposed an influential theory of how race and ethnic relations change over time -focuses on struggle for territory -distinguishes five stages by which conflict among ethnic and racial groups emerges and is resolved: 1. Invasionone racial or ethnic groups tries to move into the territory of another 2. Resistancethe established group tried to defend its territory and institutions against the intruding group by legal means or violence or both 3. Competitionif they cannot drive out the newcomers, the 2 groups compete for scarce resources, including housing, jobs, public park space, and political positi
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