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SOCI 210 (61)
Chapter 10

Chapter 10: Race and Ethnicity

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Sociology (Arts)
SOCI 210
Yasmin Bayer

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 imagined characteristics  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 culture.  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 Massachusetts.  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 everyday behaviour.  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 alien environment. 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 boundaries. 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 management  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 States? 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 imposition.  Gl
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