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Racism and Ethnic Inequality

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Western University
Sociology 2140

Racism and Ethnic Inequality Race and Ethnicity Race: – a socially constructed category of people who share biologically transmitted traits that a society defines as important Ethnicity: – Shared cultural heritage Racism and Ethnic Inequality as a Social Problem Ethnic group: a category of people who are distinguished by others or themselves on the basis of cultural or nationality characteristics Racialized group: a category of people who have been singled out, by others or themselves, as inferior or superior, on the basis of subjectively selected physical characteristics like skin colour or eye shape Majority and Minority Groups Majority (or dominant) group is one that is advantaged and has superior resources and rights in society Minority (or subordinate group) is one that is disadvantaged, subjected to discrimination, and regards itself as an object of discrimination Patterns of Minority – Majority Interaction • Genocide – the systematic killing of one category of people by another • Segregation – the physical and social separation of categories of people • Assimilation – the process by which minorities gradually adopt the cultural patterns of the majority population • Pluralism – a state in which people of all racial and ethnic categories have roughly equal social standing South Africa & Apartheid Roots of “Race” Classification schemes since 1700s – Traits arbitrary: Why skin colour and not eye colour? Politics of “race”: – people perceive others to be different, and – use perceptions to justify differential treatment White Privilege and Internalized Dominance White privilege: privilege that accrues to people who have “white” skin, trace their ancestry to Europe, and think of themselves as European Canadians Internalized dominance: all the ways that White people learn they are “normal,” feel included, and do not think of themselves as “other” or “different” Racism, Prejudice, and Discrimination Prejudice is a negative attitude about people based on such characteristics as racialization, gender, age, religion or sexual orientation Stereotypes are overgeneralizations about the appearance, behaviour, or other characteristics of all members of a group Individual discrimination consists of one-on-one acts by members of the dominant group that harm members of the subordinate group or their property Institutional discrimination consists of the day-to-day practices of organizations and institutions that have a harmful impact on members of subordinate groups Measuring Prejudice: The Social Distance Scale • In the 1920s Emory Bogardus developed this scale to measure prejudice among U.S. college students • High social distance meant high negative prejudice • Today’s students: – Are more accepting of minorities – See less difference between the various minorities – Express the most prejudice toward Arabs and Muslims Origins of Prejudice and Discrimination • Prejudice and Bigotry in the Individual • Frustration-Aggression – when one feels or experiences frustration due to blocked needs, it is common to displace that frustration onto a scapegoat » Anger and frustration is often taken out on subordinate groups • Projection- the tendency to project one’s own undesirable traits onto a subordinate group • Prejudice and Bigotry in Social Structures • Exploitation theory - prejudice is rationally and economically motivated on the basis of self interest » The dominant group benefits from prejudice in that it is rooted within the subordination and exploitation of a group • Cultural Factors: Norms and Stereotypes • Normative approach - prejudice is patterned into the cultural norms and values of a group or society • Prejudice is learned and is a function of conforming to the norms of a group » Homogamy - the norm that one must marry within one’s own group • Stereotyping - generalizing a trait to a group is another source of prejudice The most serious kind of prejudice is racism -the assertion that people of one race are innately superior or inferior to others Racism: a set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices used to justify the superior treatment of one racialized group and the inferior treatment of another racialized group Forms of Racism in Canadian Society Societal racism:
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