SOC101Y1 Study Guide - Samuel George Morton, Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism, Comparative Genomics

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25 Apr 2012
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Sociology 2012-01-18
Samuel George Morton (1799-1851)
- Examined skulls of difference races
- Believed that the bigger your brain is, more intellectual you are
- average brain size of different races
- Found that Caucasian skulls were bigger that Asian, African American, etc.
- Used his ideas to justify colonization and slavery
Criticisms of Morton
- Small, unrepresentative sample (only used 72 specimens)- generalization
- Even now, archeologists cannot precisely determine race by skull shape
- Controlling for sex reduces or eliminates race difference
- Although Mortons findings are meaningless, the idea of biological race determining the
intelligence of a person
IQ test and Jews
- Scored below average on IQ tests 1920s
- Nowadays, they score well above average: IQ= not fixed
- Not biological but a social factor: North American Jews worked hard and provided their
children with education and resources needed to excel in school)
Athletics and race
- Are blacks better at athletics due to their biological makeup?
- However, no gene linked to athletic superiority has been identified
- Athletes of American African descends do not perform well in swimming, hockey, soccer
and tennis, etc
- Different groups of people tend to excel in different sports due to the peculiarity of their
society, culture, history and climate. More social reasons. Hockey is expensive to enroll in,
to buy equipment for. Basketball= all you need is a ball
- Sociologists identified a certain people who face wide spread discrimination enter sports,
entertainment and criminal activities because other means of upward mobility are blocked
Race- is an attitude that people employ to judge others on their groups real or imagined
Discrimination- is unfair treatment of people due to their perceived group membership
DNA snips
- Definition of DNA
- 99.5% of all DNA= identical in everyone
- 0.5%= differences
- Comparative genomics focus on this 0.5%
- DNA is a chemical that contains the genetic instructions for all living organisms.
When people have a child, the DNA of the mates combines and the child inherits the
parents’ DNA.
- DNA consists of 3 billion pairs of four types of molecules. Different sequences of
molecules result in different characteristics (e.g., skin colour). 99.5% of the DNA of all
people is identical.
- The remaining 0.5% of DNA may differ between any two people; these differences
(known as Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, SNPs orsnips”) are the focus of
research in the field of comparative genomics.
Comparative Genomics
- Snips influence readily apparent physical differences such as skin pigmentation and
less apparent physical differences such as the capacity to absorb and utilize various
chemicals. Identifying snips of the latter type enables the production of designer
drugs that are best suited to groups with unique genetic characteristics.
- Significantly, comparative genomics research focuses on differences between socially
distinct groups, such as blacks and whites. Yet genetic diversity is greatest among
people of African origin, and genetic variation within other racial groups may be
pharmacologically significant.
Race, Biology and Society
- Behavioural difference is not related to biological factor
- Behavioural differences between racial groups are not constant
- Athletic abilities= social circumstances
Idea of race= socially constructed
- Skin color is picked by the human race to distinguish one from another
- Perceptions of racial differences= arbitrary (Jews were once considered black)
- Race is a social idea used to distinguish people in terms of one or more physical markers.
Usually with profound effects in their lives
Why does race matter?
- Enables socially inequality to be created and maintained
The Social Roots of Racism
- Inequality created using physical markers
- Social conditions among superordinates/ domination create differences, not the other way
- Systemic racial domination: Nazi Germany/ domination of Ireland by the English
- Perceptions of behavioural different get embedded in culture as racial stereotypes
(literature, etc.)
- Race: physical markers- that are socially significant
- Ethnicity: cultural markers- religion, beliefs, language and values, etc. : have less effect on
the behavior of people than formerly believed
Six Degrees of Separation
- Genocide: involves attempted extermination of a group of people
- Expulsion: forced removal from one groups terriroty (Indians drove into reserves)
18th C. Indian act: tried to assimilate aboriginals into European culture
( aboriginals sent to residential schools, forbidden to speak their language, practice their
tradition and was physically & sexually harassed: deep trauma on individual families)
- Slavery: legal ownership of a group ( with Europeans to Africans)
- Segregation: spatial and institutional separation of groups (in the States after the
abolition of slavery)
- Pluralism: retention of identity and equal access to basic social resources (Canada today)
- Assimilation: cultural blending of majority and minority groups
Assimilation- Contribution factors
- Length of time in country: longer you are in the country, more assimilated you are
- Socioeconomic status: varies proportionately with assimilation
- Occupational segregation: varies inversely with assimilation: depends on who you hang
out with at work
- Current history of discrimination: varies inversely with assimilation