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Chapter 8-Ethnicity and Race-The Social Construction of Difference Nov 26 2008

Course Code
Sheldon Ungar

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Reading Notes
New Society: Chapter 8- Race and Ethnic Relations
Ethnicity and Race: The Social Construction of Difference
x Ascribed characteristics: we assume that we are born with a certain race or ethnicity that
cannot be changed
x Achieved Status: statuses that are acquired by virtue of social definition
Ethnicity and Race
x Ethnicity
o Ethnicity is something people possess because of differences in language,
culture, customs, national origin, ancestry
x Subjective Definition- Ethnicity: ethnic identification
o Socially constructed nature perceived reality insist that ethnicity is a transactional
process (ethnic identities and boundaries are situational, variable, flexible)
x Is a socially constructed label that has been used to describe certain kinds of physical
differences between people
x Ex: skin colour, hair texture, body, facial shape etc
x The belief that humans are subdivided into distinct hereditary groups that are innately
different in their social behaviour and mental capacities and that can therefore be ranked
as superior or inferior
x New Racism: Barker- a theory of human nature that suggests that it is natural for groups
to form bounded communities- one group is neither better nor worse than another, but
feelings of antagonism will be aroused if outsiders are admitted
x Institutional Racism: discriminatory practices built into such prominent structures as the
political, economic, education systems
x Systematic Discrimination: institutions sometimes unintentionally restrict the life chances
of certain groups through a variety of seemingly neutral rules, regulations, procedures
x Ex: height and weight requirements for jobs with police force, fire department
Theories of Race and Ethnic Relations
Social Psychology
x Prejudice: unfavourable, generalized, rigid belief applied to all members of a group
x Frustration-Aggression: prejudice as a forms of hostility that arise from frustration
o Ppl who are frustrated in their efforts to achieve a desired goal-respond with
x Primordialist Thesis: ethnic and racial attachments reflect an innate tendency for people
to seek out and associate with others who are similar in terms of language, culture,
beliefs, ancestry, appearance
x Discrimination: practices that deny members of particular groups equal access to societal
Normative Theories
x Prejudices are transmitted through socialization and the social circumstances that compel
discriminatory behaviour
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