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SOSC 1130 (72)
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Lecture 5

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York University
Social Science
SOSC 1130
Awalou O

Lecture 5 The Social Construction of Race and Ethnicity  Is it a social or biological understanding? o Social understanding overtime stands to be natural rather than constructed  Race o Common sense understanding  It is a classification of people based on biology/physical characteristics  Dark/light skin, round/slanted eyes o Critical understanding  The common sense definition is problematic for many reasons  There is as much variation within each racial type as there is between them o Under Caucasian, there were light skinned, dark skinned o The distinctions within one group meant that it has been discredited and is more of a myth than a reality  Classifying people into physical characteristics involves power  It is a socially constructed category that relates to not only physical characteristics but also the meanings we attach to them  These relations are not natural and are socially constructed but are very real  Ex: Chinatown was not only a physical place but a place full of meanings o Race involves not only developing and ranking different roles o It is key because not only do we say that people are different but we say that those who have a specific difference are superior  Race is a social relation of inequality, is more than about differences and is about power o There are different expectations of races in racist societies  Ethnicity o It shares similarities with the concept of race o Common sense understanding  It is the classification of people according to cultural characteristics o Critical understanding  The common sense understanding is extremely problematic  Society sees culture as something that has been attributed by birth  Instead of looking at culture that is something socially learned, we tend to see it as something unchangeable and assume that people from different cultures have characteristics acquired from the culture  People argue that certain people occupy a certain position because of culture o Ex: Crafty, lazy, etc. o Ignore social and historical dimension of the positions they occupy that may have led to the identification  There is the assumption that people who do not share the same cultural characteristics cannot get along  Racism o Discrimination based on race or ethnicity, justified by biological or cultural notions of difference and inferiority  It is reflected in social attitudes and stereotypes, but it is essentially about power and privilege built into the structure of social institutions o Manifestations of racism  Individual: Open discrimination (ex: name calling, derogatory terms, overt episodes, ironic and indirect also)  Common sense: Racism that is transmitted in common everyday situations and is so common that it appears natural and we are not aware to it. Dominant racial groups do not have to be actively engaging in racist acts to be racist such as stereotyping (ex: holding onto purse, showing surprise about anomalies)  It excludes others and reinforces ways of acting that encourage oppression  Institutional: Racism that is bu
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