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SOCA02H3 (310)
Chapter 10

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Sheldon Ungar

Chapter 10: Race and Ethnicity DEFINING RACE AND ETHINICITY The Great Brain Robbery − Dr. Samuel George found that the races ranking highest in the social hierarchy had the biggest brains, while those ranking lowest had the smallest brains − he claimed that people with the biggest brains were whites of European origin − next were Asians − then came Native North Americans − the people at the bottom of the social hierarchy—and those with the smallest brains—were blacks − his ideas were used to justify two of the most oppressive forms of domination and injustice: colonization and slavery − three issues compromise his findings 1. − Morton claimed to be able to distinguish the skulls of white and black people by the shapes of the skulls − since this is not possible, Morton's sorting of skulls is invalid 2. − Morton's skulls formed a small, unrepresentative sample of 72 skulls 3. − Morton's racial samples were incomparable with respect to gender − females comprised 71 percent of the “Negroid” group and only 48 percent of the “Caucasian” − given that women's bodies are on average smaller than men's, these group comparisons are unfair − the findings are biased in favour of larger, white, male skulls Race, Biology, and Society − in medieval Europe, some aristocrats saw blue veins underneath their pale skin but could not see blue veins underneath the peasants' suntanned skin − they concluded that the two groups must be racially distinct − the aristocrats called themselves “blue bloods” − they ignored the fact that the colour of blood from an aristocrat's wound was just as red as the blood from a peasant's wound − Peter Sandiford argued that Canada must institute selective immigration to ensure that only the best and the brightest arrived on our shores and that we kept out “misfits” and “defectives” − he encouraged recruitment of people of British, German, and Danish stock, and discouraged the recruitment of Polish people, Italians, and Greeks − he argued the mental superiority of Northern Europeans compared with Eastern and Southern Europeans − people of Japanese and Chinese ancestry had the highest intelligence scores—something he had not predicted − he dismissed this finding by asserting that a few clever Asians had entered Canada − they were exceptions, and should not detract from the “need” to keep Asians out of Canada too − the people who argued against Jewish immigration and better education for inner-city African Americans ignored two facts − first, Jewish IQ scores rose as Jews moved up the class hierarchy and could afford better education − second, enriched educational facilities have boosted the IQ scores of inner-city African-American children − the argument for the genetic basis of black athletic superiority begins to falter once we consider two points − first, no gene linked to general athletic superiority has been identified − second, athletes of African descent do not perform unusually well in many sports − people who face prejudice and discrimination enter sports, entertainment, and crime in disproportionately large numbers for lack of other ways to improve their social and economic position − prejudice − An attitude that judges a person on his or her group's real or imagined characteristics. − discrimination − Unfair treatment of people because of their group membership. − the idea that people of African descent are genetically superior to whites in athletic ability is the complement of the idea that they are genetically inferior to whites in intellectual ability − it is impossible to distinguish races based on genetic differences − relatively consistent differences are observed only when people from distant locales are compared − within continental landmasses, contrasts are negligible for adjacent populations because migration and conquest bring about genetic mixing − such mixing prevails whenever supposedly distinct groups have been in contact for more than a few generations − race refers to the existence of classification schemes that are understand and taken to be relevant − it is invaluable only to the degree that people who use the term remember that it refers to social significance that is attached to physical differences rather than to biological differences that shape behaviour patterns − race − A social construct to distinguish people in terms of one or more physical markers, usually with profound effects on their lives. − scapegoat − A disadvantaged person or category of people whom others blame for their own problems. Ethnicity, Culture, and Social Structure − ethnic group − 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. − ethnic values and other elements of ethnic culture have less of an effect on the way people behave than we believe − that is because social structural differences underlie cultural differences − much of Canadian research supports the argument that culture, in and of itself, is unimportant to determining the economic success of racial or ethnic groups Ethnic and Racial Stratification in Canada − in the middle of the twentieth century, the people with the most power and privilege were of British origin − WASPS (white Anglo-Saxon Protestants) controlled almost all the big corporations in the country and dominated politics − immigrants who arrived later enjoyed less power and privilege − John Porter thought the retention of ethnic and racial culture was a big problem in Canada because it hampered the upward mobility of immigrants − the “Canadian value system” encouraged the retention of ethnic culture, making Canada a low-mobility society − for the majority of Canadians after World War II, ethnic and racial cultures mattered less than the structure of mobility opportunities in determining economic success - in the early years of the twenty-first century, sociologists began focusing attention on how government policy could be restructured to better use the skills that immigrants from visible minority groups could bring to Canada - this policy shift reinforces the idea that, in addition to the resources a person possesses, the structure of opportunities for economic advancement determines annual income and occupational and educational attainment - ethnic or racial culture has little to do with it Canadian-American Differences - multiculturalism - Canada’s policy emphasizes tolerance of ethnic and racial differences. - melting pot - Ideology of the United States values the disappearance of ethnic and racial differences. - the United States receives a higher percentage of immigrants from Latin America (especially Mexico), while Canada receives a higher proportion from Asian countries - Canadian immigration policies focus on economic issues (preferring immigrants with capital to invest), while American policy is influenced by foreign policy considerations - differences in ideology and official policy between the two countries appear to have little effect on creating different patterns in the retention of immigrant culture - in both countries, cultural blending takes place between immigrants and natives within one or two generations after immigrants arrive - social definitions, not biology and not culture, determine whether a group is viewed as a race or an ethnic group RACE AND ETHNIC RELATIONS: THE SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONIST APPROACH The Formation of Racial and Ethnic Identities - the development of racial and ethnic labels, and ethnic and racial identities, is a process of negotiation - members of a group may have a racial or an ethnic identity, but outsiders may impose a new label on them - group members reject, accept, or modify the label - the negotiation between outsiders and insiders results in the crystallization of a new, more or less stable ethnic identity - if the social context changes again, the negotiation process begins anew - when Christopher Columbus landed in North America in 1492, he assumed he had reached India - he called the indigenous peoples Indians and the misnomer stuck—not only among European settlers but also among many indigenous peoples themselves - a new identity was grafted onto tribal identities because indigenous peoples confronted a group that had the power to impose a name on them - white settlers and their governments took land from the indigenous peoples and forced them onto reserves, causing resentment, anger, and solidarity to grow - since the 1960s, indigenous North Americans have begun to fight back culturally and politically, asserting their pride in their languages, art, and customs, and making legal claims to the land that had been taken from them - in Canada, many of them preferred to be called Native Canadians, Indigenous Peoples, Aboriginal Canadians, or First Nations - today, many North Americans of European origin accept these new terms out of respect for indigenous North Americans and in recognition of their neglected rights Ethnic and Racial Labels: Imposition versus Choice - in Canada, the people with the most freedom to choose are white European Canadians whose ancestors arrived more than two generations ago - in a city like Toronto, where a number of Irish immigrants were concentrated, the English Protestant majority regarded working-class Irish Catholics as drunk, lazy, and born superstitious - this strong Irish-sentiment, which erupted into conflict, meant the Irish found it difficult to escape their ethnic identity even if they wanted - since then, Irish Canadians have followed the path taken by many other white European groups - they have achieved upward mobility and blended with the majority - for them, ethnicity is a symbolic matter, as it is for the other white European groups that have undergone similar social processes - symbolic ethnicity - A nostalgic allegiance to the culture of the immigrant generation, or that of the old country, that is not usually incorporated in everyday behaviour. - most African Canadians lack the freedom to enjoy symbolic ethnicity - their identity as people of African descent is not an option because a number of non-blacks are racists and impose the identity on them - racism - The belief that a visible characteristic of a group, such as skin colour, indicates group inferiority and justifies discrimination. CONFLICT THEORIES OF RACE AND ETHNICITY − in contrast, assimilation is less widespread among Aboriginal peoples, Quebecois, African Canadians, and Asian Canadians − conflict theories explain why Internal Colonialism − one conflict theory is the theory of internal colonialism − internal colonialism − Involves one race or ethnic group subjugating another in the same country. It prevents assimilation by segregating the subordinate group in terms of jobs, housing, and social contacts. − colonialism involves people from one country invading another country − in the process, the invaders change or destroy the native culture − they gain virtually complete control over the native population − they develop the racist belief that the native inhabitants are inherently inferior − and they confine natives to work considered demeaning − internal colonialism involves much the same processes but within the boundaries of a single country − to varying degrees, Canada, the United States, Great Britain, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Russia, and China have engaged in internal colonialism − in Canada, the main victims of internal colonialism are Aboriginal peoples, the Quebecois, and the people of African descent Canada's Aboriginal Peoples − the single word that best describes the treatment of Canada's Aboriginal peoples by European immigrants in the nineteenth century is expulsion − expulsion − The forcible removal of a population from a territory claimed by another population. − expulsion is dramatically illustrated by the plight of the Beothuk, and Aboriginal people from what is today Newfoundland and Labrador − in the sixteenth century, Europeans used Newfoundland and Labrador as a fishing port, returning to Europe each year after the fishing season − in the seventeenth century, year-round European settlement began − this caused a revolution in the life of the Beothuk because the Europeans viewed them as a nuisance − they offered incentives to the Mi'kmaq from Nova Scotia to kill off the Beothuk − the Beothuk population dec
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