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Chapter 8

SOCIOL 1A06 Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: Orthodox Marxism, Class Consciousness, Class Conflict

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Sandra Colavecchia

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Sociologists recognized that we do not necessarily have fixed and unalterable
ethnic and racial characteristics or identities
It is more useful to see race and ethnicity as certain kids of achieved status-
statuses that are acquired by virtue of social definition
Objective definition of ethnicity assume that ethnic groups exist because of people's
social attachments
1 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 identification
1 "Ethnicity" is self-defined and reflects "a shared 'we-feeling' within a
collectivity (groupness) whose symbolic components can vary [over] time and
2 Ethnic identities and boundaries are situational. variable, and flexible
Sociologists who emphasize the socially constructed nature of perceived reality
insist that ethnicity is a "transactional" process
Ethnic groups are made up of people who identify themselves, or who are
identified by others. as belonging to the same ancestral or cultural group
Whether they display any of the cultural characteristics of the group they identify
with or whether they were born into that group is irrelevant
Race: divisions based on a combination of unalterable physical and genetic
Genetic differences between races are arbitrary, extremely small, ad
without behavioural consequences
Ethnic boundaries and identities are flexible, negotiated, and historically
Racism: A certain kind of idea and a certain kind of institutional practice
1 "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"
New racism: a theory that suggests that it is natural for groups to form bounded
communities . One group is neither better nor worse than another
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1 Baker argued that although races of people cannot be ranked biologically, they
are different from each other and that social problems are created when
different groups try to live together
2 These beliefs should be considered racist because of their underlying intent: to
socially exclude, marginalize, and denigrate certain groups of people but to do
so without reference to unalterable biology
Institutional racism: "discriminatory racial practices built into such prominent structures
as the political, economic and education systems"
1 Institutional racism can take three forms:
1 Some institutional practices are based on explicitly racist ideas
2 Some institutional practices arose from, but are no longer sustained by,
racist ideas
3 Institutions sometimes unintentionally restrict the life-chances of certain
groups through a variety of seemingly neutral rules. regulations, and
procedures - this is referred to as systematic discrimination
Social Psychology
Prejudice: an unfavourable, generalized, and rigid belief that is applied to all members of
a group
Frustration aggression: explains prejudice and racism as forms of hostility that arise
from frustration
1 People who are frustrated in their efforts to achieve a desired goal respond
with aggression
2 Since the real source of frustration is too powerful to confront directly, or may
not be known, people take out their frustrations on the less powerful- this
displacement is called scapegoating
1 The concept of scapegoating is sometimes used to explain anti-Semitism-
negative attitudes and everyday discrimination directed against Jews
3 Theory does not say why we respond to frustrating circumstances in
difference ways, and does not explain why some groups, an not others, are
chosen as scapegoats
Primordialist thesis: suggests that ethnic and racial attachments reflect as innate
tendency for people to seek out, and associate with, others who are similar in terms of
language, culture, beliefs, ancestry, and appearance
1 Ethnic prejudice and racism are ways of maintaining social bondaries
2 They suggest that prejudice and discrimination- practice that deny members
of particular groups equal access to societal rewards- stem from our
supposedly biologically grounded tendency to be nepotistic
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