SOCA02H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 10: Indian Act, American Civil War, Canadian Pacific Railway
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Chapter 10: Race and Ethnicity
The Great Brain Robbery
150 years ago: Dr. Samuel George Morton - collected and measured human skulls and believed the
bigger your brain, the smarter you were those ranking highest (Europeans) in the social
hierarchy had the biggest brains, medium (Asian) and lowest (black) had the smaller brains
Not a shred of evidence proved Morton’s ideas
1. Claimed to distinguish skulls of white/ black people by the shapes of the skulls NOT possible.
2. His skulls formed a small sample of 72 skulls
3. His racial samples were incomparable with respect to gender women’s brains are smaller
Race, Biology and Society
Biological arguments are more sophisticated now, but previous arguments are questionable.
Aristocrats saw blue veins under their pale skin but could not see them under peasants tan skin
Concluding to a higher social ranking: naming themselves blue bloods. BUT all blood is red.
80 Years Ago – Racial Differences With IQ Scores
Believed that IQ scores were genetically abased
1927: Canadian professor: Peter Sandiford argued that Canada must institute selective
immigration to ensure that the best arrived in Canada and that we kept misfits out
Provided IQ tests mental superiority of Europeans
Japanese and Chinese ancestry had the highest intelligence scores
No gene linked to general athletic superiority has yet been identified
The idea that people of African descent are superior in athletes is untrue
Sociologists identify certain social CONDITIONS that lead to high levels in participation in sports.
People who face widespread prejudice and discrimination often enter sports, entertainment and
crime in large numbers for lack of other ways to improve their social and economic position.
Prejudice: 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.
o Ideas that blacks are better at sports, whites are smarter reinforce black and white
o By promoting black role models like Kobe Bryant, the idea of natural black athletic
superiority and intellectual inferiority asks blacks to be set on high risk ideas.
Additional problem: undermines argument that genes determine the behaviour of racial groups
o It is impossible to distinguish races based on genetic differences
o Genetic mixing is inevitable within continental land masses
o EX: White slave owners raping black female slaves: mixed children
o EX: Europeans had children with Aboriginal peoples
o This fact undermines attempts to sort populations into distinct racial types
Humanity has experienced so much intermixing that race as a biological category lost all meaning
o Sociologists still use the term race because perceptions of race
affect lives of people today
o It refers to the existence of classification schemes that are widely understood and widely
taken to be relevant
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o It is invaluable. unless people use it to remember the social significance attached to skin
colour rather than biological differences
Race: social construct used to distinguish people in terms of one or more physical markers
Scapegoat: Disadvantaged person/category of people whom others blame for their own problems
Ethnic group: comprises people whose perceived cultural markers are groups differ from one
another in terms of language, religion, customs, values ancestors and the like
Race = PHYSICAL markers define them
Ethnic group = CULTURAL markers are deemed significant
o They differ with language, religion, customs, values, ancestors and like.
o However, cultural distinctions result of differences in the behaviour of various ethnic
o Ethnic values have less of an effect on the way people behave than we commonly believe
BECAUSE social structural differences frequently motivate cultural differences
DIAGRAM figure 10.1 p. 243
1. Physical markers are used to distinguish groups and create social inequality based on race by
means of colonialism, slavery, etc LEADS TO \/
2. Different social conditions between superordinates and subordinates create behavioural
differences between them (example: energetic versus lazy workers) LEAD TO \/
3. Perceptions of behavioural differences create racial stereotypes that get embedded in culture,
which leads to number 1.
Culture is unimportant in determining the economic success of racial or ethnic groups BUT, SOME
racial groups there are differences based on factors such as EDUCATION.
Ethnic and Racial Stratification
Mid 20th century: Canada was a society sharply stratified along ethnic and racial lines
People of the most power = British
WASPS controlled all corporations = White Anglo Saxon protestants
John Porter: one of the founders of modern Canadian sociology
called mid 20th century: ethnically
and racially stratified = vertical mosaic
The retention of ethnic & racial culture was a problem because of upward mobility of immigrants
Canadian value system encouraged preservation of ethnic culture = Canada a low mobility society
However 1970s proved: Ethnic and racial minority groups were economically successful despite
ethnic/racial prejudice and discrimination since structure of mobility opportunities were
90s: minority groups were less successful economically, but not because of cultural values
Canada = multiculturalism = EMPHASIZES the ethnic and racial differences
America = melting pot = values the DISAPPEARANCE of ethnic and racial differences
Labels and Identity: symbolic interactionism theory
Symbolic Interactionism is a social theory that focuses on the analysis of the patterns of
communication, interpretation and adjustment between individuals. The theory is a framework
for understanding how individuals interact with each other and within society through the
meanings of symbols
The Formation of Racial and Ethnic Identities
Interactionists believe in the development of racial and ethnic labels and ethnic and racial
identities is typically a process of negotiation
Example: members of a group may have a racial/ethnic identity, but outsiders impose a new label
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