Sociology Exam 3
Objective definitions of ethnicity assume ethnic groups exist
because of people’s social attachments. From this point of view,
ethnicity is something that people possess because of differences in
language, culture, customs, national origin and ancestry.
Subjective approaches to ethnicity focus on the process of ethnic
Sociologists define racism as both a certain kind of idea and a
certain kind of institutional practice.
Sociologists define racism as “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”
The concept of new racism was developed by Martin Barker to
analyze the way that ideas were being expressed in the 1970’s by
British members of Parliament, when they were speaking out about
British immigration policy (used the excuse of biological inferiority/
superiority and cultural differences)
Barker argued that the new racism involves beliefs that, although
races of people cannot be ranked biologically, they are different
from each other and that social problems are creates when different
groups try to live together.
Institutional racism refers to “discriminatory racial practices built
into such prominent structures such prominent structure as the
political, economic and educational systems”
Takes three forms:
First, some institutional practices are based on explicitly racist
Second, some institutional practices arose from, but are no
longer sustained by, racist ideas.
Third, institutions sometimes unintentionally restrict the life-
chances of certain groups through a variety of seemingly neutral
rules, regulations and procedures. Sometimes refereed to as
Social- psychological approaches to the interpretation of race and
ethnic relations focus on how prejudice and unfavorable,
generalized and rigid belief applied to all members of a group – and
racism satisfy the psychic needs of certain people.
Frustration-aggression is a popular variant of social-psychological
theory. It explains prejudice and racism as forms of hostility that
arise from frustration. Theory suggests that those that are frustrated in their efforts to achieve a desired goal – a better-
paying job, for example, or entry to a university – respond with
The primordialist thesis suggests that ethnic and racial
attachments reflect an innate tendency for people to seek out and
associate with, other who are similar in terms of language, culture,
beliefs, ancestry and appearance
From this point of view, ethnic prejudice and racism are ways of
maintain social boundaries
Sociobiologists offer a popular form of primordial theory. They
suggest that prejudice and discrimination – practices that deny
members of particular groups equal access to societal rewards –
stem from our supposedly biological grounded tendency to be
They believe that clusters of genes are assumed to be passed on
through kin selection.
Are racism, prejudice and discrimination programmed by our
First problem with sociobiology is that shared ethnicity or race does
not prevent conflict from erupting
Second sociobiology is not able to explain how and why we
frequently break out of our supposed genetically programmed
Normative theories of ethnic and racial prejudices concentrate on
the way in which prejudices are transmitted through socialization
and the social circumstances that compel discriminatory behaviour.
Socialization approach focuses on how we are taught ethnic and
racial stereotypes, prejudice and attitudes by our families, peer
groups and the mass media.
Orthodox Marxist argue that racism is an ideology – a set of
statements shaped by economic interests about the way the social
world “really works”. Racism is ideological insofar as it is used by
capitalists to mystify social reality and justify the exploitation and
the unequal treatment of groups of people
Split labour market theory was developed by Edna Bonacich
because of the limitations of orthodox Marxism in analyzing racism.
She argues that orthodox Marxism tends to assume that the
capitalist class is all powerful and that other classes play no role in
the development of racist thinking. This is inaccurate because
racism is found in all classes to varying degrees. Second, orthodox
Marxism portrays racism in overly conspirational terms. Little
evidence demonstrates that capitalists sit around plotting new and
devious ways of using racism to stop workers from developing class
consciousness. Third, orthodox Marxism has trouble explaining why racialized conflict so often results in exclusionary practices –
practices that deny employers access to cheaper, more exploitable
Split labour market theory makes three other points that are
relevant to the analysis of ethnic and race relations in general.
First, it argues that individual racism, ethnic prejudice and
institutional racism emerge from intergroup conflict. Second, the
theory maintains that prejudicial ideas and discriminatory behaviour
are ways of socially marginalizing minority groups that the
dominant groups sees as threats to their position of power and
privilege. Third, the theory suggests that to understand ethnic and
racial relations, we need to look beyond individual personalities and
sociobiological processes and analyze processes of economic, social
and political competition among groups.
On average, Aboriginal people have much lower family incomes,
lower rates of labour force participation and higher rates of
unemployment that non-Aboriginal Canadians do
To account for the origins and persistence of the problem, some
sociologists proposed a variant of the culture of poverty thesis.
The concept of a culture of poverty was first developed by Oscar
Lewis, an American anthropologist interested in explain the slow
pace at which Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans were being
assimilated into U.S society. He suggested that some ethnic groups
do no readily assimilate, and hence are poor, because their culture
does not value economic success, hard work and achievement
Kzemipur and Halli have applied Lewis’s framework to the issue of
ethnic poverty in Canada and Nagle has applied it to the conditions
of Aboriginal people. In his view, Indian culture displayed the
following characteristics; a present rather than a future time
orientation, a high value on mutual aid without the expectation of
return, a lack of emphasis on possession of material goods, a lack
of appreciation fro the monetary value of time and the absence of a
capitalist work ethic.
Sociologists like Steven Steinberg criticize culture of poverty
explanations by arguing that groups generally do not get ahead or
lag behind because of their cultural values. Instead, they are born
into certain situations in life and adopt the values and attitudes that
are consistent with their life chances
Since the 1970’s, sociologists have focused on blocked
opportunities rather than culture as the explanation for inequalities
between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. The internal colonial
model is the most popular variant of the conflict approach. The
internal colonial model analyzes the problem of inequality in terms of power imbalances and the exploitation of Aboriginal people and
lands by white society.
The members of this new capitalist class are different from other
Canadian capitalist, in that they do not personally own all the
wealth and capital that is at their disposal. They do, however,
control the compensation that communities receive from land-
claims settlements. They establish development corporations, hire
and fire employees, make capital-planning and investment
decisions and decide what and how much to produce.
The term Quiet Revolution describes the social, political, and
cultural changes that occurred in Quebec in the 1960’s, in part
because of the initiatives of this new middle class.
Benedict Anderson regards nations as “imagined communities”.
They are imagined in the sense that, even though members of the
smallest nation can never know everyone in the community, there
is still a common feeling of fellowship with others in the nation.
A majority of nationalists define the imagined community as all
people who now live in the province of Quebec. For them, the social
and symbolic boundaries of the nation correspond to present day
provincial boundaries. Sociologists call this a form of civic
Factors that shape Canadian immigration:
The first variable is social class. Most immigrants are admitted to
Canada because they fill jobs in the Canadian economy, have
certain skills that are in demand or because they create jobs for
The second determinant of immigration is ethnic and racial
stereotypes – exaggerated, oversimplified images of the
characteristics of social groups
The third variable that shapes immigrant selection consists of a
variety of geopolitical considerations stemming from Canada’s
relationship with other countries.
The fourth variable affecting immigrant selection is
humanitarianism. Canada accepts immigrants and refugees partly
on humanitarian and compassionate ground
The influence of the fifth variable, public opinion, is more difficult
to determine, in part because Canadians do not speak with one
voice, regarding immigration
The sixth variable, security considerations, has become more
important since the terrorist attacks on the United States on
September 11, 2001
There are three categories of refugees that Canada accepts through
immigration programs Convention refugees are people who are defined as refugees by the
1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its
1967 protocol - they are people who, by reason of their race, religion,
nationality , membership in a particular social group, or political
opinion, live outside of their country of nationality or their country of
habitual residence and who are unable or unwilling, because of fear of
persecution to return to their country of origin
Country of asylum class refugees are people who are outside their
country of citizenship or residence who are seriously and personally
affected by civil war, armed conflict or massive violations of humans
Finally, source country class refugees include people who would
meet the definition of a Convention refugee but who are still in their
country of citizenship or residence. This category also includes people
who have been detained or imprisoned and are suffering serious
deprivations of the right of freedom of expression, the right of dissent,
or the right to engage in trade union activity.
About 66,000 family class immigrants arrived in Canada in 2007.
Family class immigrants have close family members already living
in Canada who are willing and able to support them.
Economic immigrants numbered about 131,000 in 2007. The
federal government has increased the size of this category in total
immigration flows and has decreased the number of family class
immigrants, because it believes that the former are of greater
economic benefit to Canada.
Skill workers and professionals are selected by the federal
government on the basis of their ability to meet certain minimum
work experience requirements, to prove that they have enough
funds to support themselves and their family members in Canada,
and merit as measured by the points system.
Immigrant entrepreneurs are people who will own and actively
manage a business that will contribute to the economy and create
Immigrant investors are capitalists who have a personal net worth
of at least $800,000 and plan to invest at least $400,00 in a
business in Canada
Self – employed immigrants must have the intention and ability to
create their own employment
Provincial nominees are a relatively recent fifth category. Provinces
may fast track individuals for admission to Canada based on specific
provincial labour shortages.
Porter argued that Canada is a vertical mosaic, a society in which
ethnic groups tend to occupy different and unequal positions in the
stratification systems. He called the first ethnic group to take control of a previously
unoccupied or newly conquered territory the charter group of that
Canadian- born individuals earn a lot more than foreign-born ones. These findings