SOC CHAPTER 10: RACE AND ETHNICITY
Dr. Samuel George Morton collected human skulls and measured them and
found that races ranking highest in the social hierarchy had the biggest brains
(Europeans > Asians > Natives > Blacks) and claimed the system of social inequity
had biological roots.
o In actuality, you can’t tell race by skull shape, his sample was
unrepresentative, and his race samples were incomparable by gender.
o His claims/evidence were meaningless but people still believed them for
a long time.
There are still assumptions tied to race and biology (ex. “black people are better
athletes), but sociologists believe it is more to do with social conditions than
biology (ex. there are factors that influence a high level of participation in sport,
such as discrimination—people who face widespread discrimination enter sports
in large numbers for lack of other ways to improve their economic position).
Prejudice is an attitude that judges a person on his or her group’s real or
Discrimination is unfair treatment of people due to their group membership
Social circumstances had a big impact on athletic and other forms of behaviour
(notably crime and entertainment).
Because it is impossible to neatly distinguish races based on genetic differences
and genetic contrasts are negligible for adjacent populations (because
migration/conquest bring genetic mixing—ex. how slave owners would rape
black female slaves and they would have mixed race kids), this means genetic
arguments hold little weight.
Even if race as a biological category is losing its meaning, we still use the term
because perceptions of race are still significant and affect peoples lives—even if
peoples perceptions of race are socially constructed and arbitrary.
o Race is a social construct used to distinguish people in terms of one or
more physical markers, usually with profound effects on their lives.
o Race matters because it allows social inequality to be created and
perpetuated (ex. Germans using Jews as a scapegoat for their econ.
Problems after WWI and created racial domination). Structures can be
created that allow for behavioural differences between subordinates and
superiors (ex. concentration camp wardens vs. inmates)
Ethnic groups comprise people whose perceived cultural markers are deemed
socially significant. Ethnic groups differ from one another in terms of language,
religion, customs, values, ancestors, and the like.
o Ethnic values/culture don’t affect people’s behaviours as much as we
believe because social structures frequently underlie cultural
differences—not culture. (ex. socio-structural conditions like literacy and
education were ensured in Jewish and Korean immigrants to Canada
which helped their econ. success, whereas blacks/aboriginals were less literate which led to less econ. success). The resources groups have
(literacy, urbanity, education) matter.
In the mid 20 century, Canada was very stratified along ethnic and racial lines
(WASPs ere most powerful/privileged). John Porter believed Canada was a
racially stratified vertical mosaic and that the value system encouraged retention
of ethnic culture, which made us a low mobility society.
o But after WWII, the economy grew and all races got more successful--
ethnic and racial structure mattered less the structure of mobility
opportunities in determining economic success.
Canada’s multiculturalism policy emphasizes tolerance of ethnic and racial
differences, whereas the US melting pot ideology values the disappearance of
ethnic and racial differences.
Racial and ethnic inequality is more rooted in social structure than biology and
Social contexts shaped and reshape a person’s ethnic and racially identity (ex. as
John Lie’s identity changed when he moved from Japan to Hawaii and then
Identities can be created when outsiders imposed labels on groups (ex. Italians
saw themselves as citizens of a city, not a country, but when they immigrated to
Canada we called them “Italians” and they began to identify with that).
Symbolic ethnicity is a nostalgic allegiance to the culture of the immigrant
generation, or that of the old country, that is not usually incorporated into
Racism is the belief that a visible characteristic of a group, such as skin colour,
indicates group inferiority and justifies discrimination.
Conflict theories try to explain why assimilation in Canada is less widespread
among Aboriginals, African Canadians, Asian Canadians and Quebecois.
o Internal colonialism theory: involves one race or group subjugating
another in the same country. It prevents assimilation by segregating the
subordinate group in terms of jobs, housing, and social contacts. Forms
include expulsion, conquest and slavery.
Ex. Expulsion of Aboriginals from Canada and cultural genocide
through residential schools, the reserve system, etc.
Ex. Conquest (forcible capture of land and the econ. and political
domination of the inhabitants) or the Quebecois. Modernization
of Quebec in the mid-20 century failed to resolve issues of the
potential demographic decline (low birth rate), the assimilation of
immigrants into English culture, persistent ethnic stratification,
and the continued use of English in the private industry (p. 7).
Ex. Slavery of African Canadians—after the American civil war
government policy required the rejection of black immigrants,
Africans continued to be mainly unskilled labour. o Theory of the split labour market: (proposed by Edna Bonacich) where
low-wage workers of one race and high wage workers of another race
compete for the same jobs, high wage workers are likely to resent the
presence of low wage competitors and conflict is bound to result. Racist
attitudes develop and are reinforced.
o Ex. Asian immigrants in Canada—Chinese were paid half of what
white workers were to lay the tracks for the CPR. This led to Asian
immigration being seen as a threat to British values and
institutions—underlying European Canadian animosity against
Asian immigration was a split labour market.
Some advantages of ethnicity—3 main factors enhance the value of ethnic
group membership for some white European Canadians who have lived in the
country for many generations.
1. Economic advantages:
o Immigrants commonly rely on other members of their ethnic
group to help them find jobs/housing (because when they first
emigrate they lack French/English fluency and social contacts). As
a result, the ethnic group becomes tight knit.
o In the 2 generation, community solidarity is important for
“ethnic entrepreneurs” (businesspeople who operate largely in
their own ethnic community).
2. Ethnic membership can be politically useful
o Ex. Trudeau created a policy of bilingualism, but ethnic groups
such as people of Ukrainian origin in Western Canada didn’t think
Quebec should be accorded special status and wanted resources
for promoting their culture, and used their ethnicity as a political
tool. As a result, Trudeau promoted a new policy of
multiculturalism in 1971 and federal funds became available. This
stimulated ethnic culture and identification in Canada.
3. Ethnic group membership tends to persist because of the emotional
support it provides:
o Shared language and native culture are sources of comfort in an
o For groups who face a lot of discrimination/prejudice (including
expulsion or genocide), the trauma of such events is transmitted
through generations, and the ethnic group membership is a
source of comfort in a hostile world.
Today, with improved communications technology and travel capacity,
maintaining ties with the homeland is easier than ever, and immigrations no
longer means severing ties. Inexpensive international travel/communication
means some ethnic groups have become transnational communities.
o Transnational communities are communities whose boundaries extend
between or among countries.
The Future of Race and Ethnicity in Canada: o 200 years ago, Canada was a society based on expulsion, conquest,
slavery and segregation. Now we are a society based on pluralism (the
retention of racial and ethnic culture combined with equal access to basic
social resources) and assimilation.
o The growth of tolerance in Canada is taking place in a context of
increasing ethnic and racial diversity.
o And given current and continuing migration, Canada will become even
more of a racial and ethnic mosaic. But it will continue to be vertical
(with certain groups, like Aboriginal people, clustered at the bottom of
the socioeconomic hierarchy.
o Policy initiatives could decrease the verticality of the Canadian mosaic,
such as compensation for historical injustices, affirmative action or
employment equity, government subsidized job training/health care,
improvements in public education, training courses to upgrade the
credentials of foreign trained professionals, etc.
Affirmative action or employment equity is a policy that gives
preferences to members of minority groups if equally qualified
people are available for a position.
SOC CHAPTER 9: GLOBALIZATION, INEQUALITY AND DEVELOPMENT
Globalization has transformed and improved the way we live—there is now a
rapid movement of capital, commodities, culture and people across national
o Despite this, inequality between nations is staggering. Many oppose
globalization because it is making the world more unequal and may be
hurting local cultures and the environment.
Some people say globalization is a form of imperialism (the economic
domination of one country by another) because it puts the entire world under
the control of powerful commercial interests.
Globalization also contributes to the homogenization of the world and cultural
domination—it is one thing for the world to have closer ties but another for less
developed countries to become like the West.
Global commodity chain: is a worldwide network of labour and production
processes whose end result is a finished commodity.
o Ex. Nike’s global commodity chain (or web of global social relations)
includes high wage management, finance, design and marketing in the
developed world and low wage manufacturing in less developed
countries (in Vietnam, Nike workers make 20 cents an hour and a $100
pair of shoes costs 37 cents in labour costs). Buyers purchasing these
products cause these social relations to persist.
The sociological imagination allows us to link our biography with history and
social structures, and globalization extends the range of that linkage, connecting
to global history and global social structures. Sources of Globalization:
o Technology: technological progress has changed global communications
and transportation, which made globalization possible.
o Politics: politics determines the level of globalization—we have the
technological means to reach and interact with all countries, but politics
is the reason we have strong relations with some countries and no
relations with others (ex. South Korea vs. North Korea).
o Economics: transnational corporations are the most important agents of
globalization in the world today, and they are different from regular
corporations because they are:
Relying on foreign labour/production as opposed to domestic
They emphasize skills and advances in design, technology and
They sell to the world market
They depend on massive ad campaigns
They are autonomous from national governments
These three factors often work together—ex. Economics and politics working
together to break down trade barriers to allow the sale of American cigarettes
worldwide (pg. 2)
Consequences of globalization: Is it making the whole world look like the United
o Should the West intervene to stop non-democratic forces and human
rights abuses abroad? Samuel Huntington argues that the West should
not be ethnocentric and impose their values on others, but critics say
that ideals of democracy and human rights are found in non-Western
cultures (ex. respect for sacredness of human life) so it isn’t an