Week 9: Race and Ethnic Relations
Difference among human societies is normal and natural. Inequalities are social and
often attributed to these differences. These differences present themselves in
biological and cultural patterns. They are often the product of geographical
proximity, historical, social and economic relations of conflict and cooperation.
Though it may be the products of normal processes of socialization, ethnocentrism
and prejudice hinder human cooperation.
Race reflects a social rather than a biological reality.
Emile Durkheim suggested that the concept of collective consciousness is a primary
source of identity formation.
Durkheim (The Division of Labour in Society):
o In pre-modern societies the role of community or group sentiments over
individual ones were important
o Similarities/sameness within the group lead members to distinguish
themselves from the “others”.
Max Weber argued that social group formation is associated with the social practices
o Social group formation is important for the distribution of scarce and valuable
o Ethnic identity is linked to „primordial attachment‟.
Hard primordialism: People are attached to one another and their
communities due to 'blood ties„.
Soft primordialism: People's feelings of attachment, acceptance, and
trust are not associated with 'blood ties„.
Ethnic group: refers to a group that is socially defined on the basis of its cultural
Ethnicity: The social distinctions and relations among individuals and groups based on
o the sense of belonging
o common history, values, attitudes, and behaviours
o differing in terms of food habits, family patterns, sexual behaviour, modes of
dress, standards of beauty, political orientations, economic activities etc.
Ethnocentrism: refers to the tendency to view all the peoples and cultures of the world
from the viewpoint of one's own ethnic group and consequently to evaluate and rank all
outsiders in terms of
Ethnic chauvanism: hostility directed towards people on the basis of their membership
in a particular ethnic group
A majority (or dominant) group is one that is advantaged and has superior resources &
rights in a society.
--does not refer to numerical size
--subjective vs objective definitions of the situation
Middle-status minorities: racial or ethnic groups in the middle strata who are neither
major owners of property nor providers of labour power. Their high visibility and economic vulnerability make them frequent targets for scapegoating in bad economic
Amalgamation: Melting pot the idea that the ethnic differences can be combined to create
new patterns of behaviour drawing on diverse cultural resources. A+B+C=D
Pluralism: A model for ethnic relations by which all ethnic groups retain their
independent and separate identities, yet share equally in the rights and powers of
Assimilation: the acceptance of a minority group by a majority population, in which the
new group takes on the values and norms of the dominant culture. A+B+C=A
Oppression: involves the exploitation of a minority group by excluding it from equal
participation in a society
Extermination: genocide, Holocaust
Expulsion: ethnic cleansing
Prejudice: refers to a set of rigidly held attitudes, beliefs and feelings towards members of
it is based on unsubstantiated opinion
learned through the normal process of enculturation
remain unquestioned and untested
it has emotional or affective bases and even in the base of empirical evidence to the
contrary it is very difficult to eradicate.
Stereotypes: over-generalized standardized group image that amplifies the selected
physical, cultural, and/or behavioural characteristics and disregards others.
The frustration-aggression hypothesis states that people who are frustrated in their efforts
to achieve a highly desired goal will respond with a pattern of aggression toward a
scapegoat--a person or group that is incapable of offering resistance to the hostility or
aggression of others.
Highly prejudiced individuals may exhibit an authoritarian personality-- characterized by
excessive conformity, submissiveness to authority, intolerance, insecurity, a high level of
superstition, and rigid, stereotypic thinking.
Prejudice may be a cultural trait. Based on the work of Emory Bogardus, social distance--
the extent to which people are willing to interact and establish relationships with
members of racial and ethnic groups other than their own--is used by some sociologists to
The Interactionist Perspective
examines how microlevel contacts between people produce either greater racial
tolerance or increased levels of hostility.
Contact hypothesis - contact between groups is likely to produce favorable attitudes when
members of each group
have equal status
pursue the same goals
cooperate to achieve goals
receive positive feedback while interacting.
focus on economic stratification and access to power. They view prejudice as the product
of social conflict among competing groups. Prejudice is used to justify the oppression of minorities.
Critical Race Theories: