Sociology 3321F/G Lecture Notes - Ascribed Status, Peggy Mcintosh, White Privilege

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1 Feb 2013
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Dominant and Subordinate Groups
Subordinate or Minority Group a group that is singled out for unequal treatment and who regard
themselves as objects of collective discrimination. Minority groups experience a narrowing of life
opportunitiesfor success, education, wealth, the pursuit of happinessthat goes beyond any personal
shortcomings. A minority group does not share in proportion to its numbers in what a given society
defines as valuable.
Characteristics of Minority Groups:
• Membership in a minority group is an ascribed status
• Physical or cultural traits that distinguish minorities are held in low esteem by the dominant group
• Minorities are unequally treated by the dominant group
• Minorities tend to marry within their own group
• Minorities possess a strong sense of solidarity and share a distinct identity
• Minority status is based on subordination rather than size
Dominant or Majority Group the group with the most power, the greatest privileges, and the highest
social status.
White America - The racial group that has within its power the ability to exploit and control other
groups, even in the face of resistance; those in a place of social advantage
White privilege - Whites, by virtue of their racial identity, receive special consideration in almost all
facets of social life. Peggy McIntosh identifies a number of distinct advantages associated with being
White, including:
1) Being considered financially reliable when using checks, credit cards, or cash
2) Taking a job without having co-workers suspect it came because of one’s race
3) Never having to speak for all the people of one’s race
4) Speaking effectively in a large group without being called a credit to one’s race
5) Assuming that if legal or medical help is needed that one’s race will not work against oneself
6) Watching television or reading a newspaper and seeing people of one’s own race widely represented
- Race a category of people who share biologically transmitted traits (e.g., skin color, hair texture) that
members of a society deem socially significant.
- Racial groups are classified according to obvious physical differences, but what is “obvious” varies from
one society to another. For example, in the United States, people are classified according to skin color as
“Black” or “White”; there is no in-between except for people identified as Native Americans or Asians. In
contrast, Brazil uses a more elaborate system of racial classification with a variety of terms such as
cafuso, mazombo, preto, escuro to describe various combinations of skin color, facial features, and hair
texture.
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