SOC210H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Ethnocentrism, Richard Lewontin, Hypodescent

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Published on 10 Oct 2012
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UTSG
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Sociology
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SOC210H1
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Chapter 2: Mapping the Terrain
The Def. of Ethnicity
Ethnic = nation
Not political unity, but to unity of persons of common blood or descent: a people
Ethnikos, ethnicus, referring to heathens, those “others” who didn’t share the same faith
In English, ethnic referred to someone who was neither Christian or jew, drawing of a
boundary
Ethnic clearly referred to others, to those who were not “us”
Sociological Definitions
Max Weber subjective meaning of ethnicity, his work Ethnicity and Society
o At the foundation of ethnic attachments lies real or assumed common descent.
Ethnic ties are blood ties.
o The fact of common descent is less important than belief in common descent.
What matters is not whether a blood relationship actually exists, but whether it is
believed to exist.” Ethinicity is a subjective matter, the crucial issue is how we see
ourselves
o The potentional bases of this belief in common descent are multiuple , varying
from physical resemblance to shared cultural practices to a shared historical
experience of intergroup interaction. Any of these, or some combination, might be
the basis or justification of our assumption of common descent
o An ethnic group exists wherever this distinctive connection this belief in
common descent is part of the foundation of community, wherever it binds us to
one another to some degree.
Core of definition shifted from webers concern with putative origins and shared history,
to currently shared culture, to what group members now do
An ethnic group became a group of persons distinguished largely by a common culture,
typically including language, religion, or other patterns of behaviours or belief.
Distinctive cultural practices have declined over time, but the identity the sense of
ethnic distinctiveness has not (pg.18)
Immigrant groups in America: to many americans, the fact that groups members came
original from “there, not here” or at least not form where “we” came from, is ultimately
the source of their distinctiveness with homeland approximating weber’s concept of
shared ancestry (pg.19)
Ethnicity as a Distinctive Set of Claims
Richard A. Schermerhorn’s definition, which describes an ethnic group as a
“collectivity within a larger society having real or putative common ancestry, memories
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of a shared historical past, and a cultural focus on one or more symbolic elements defined
as the epitome of their peoplehood ”
Examples of symbolic elements that can be viewed an emblematic of peoplehood are:
o Kinship patterns
o Geographical concentration,
o Religions affiliation
o Language
o Physical differences
o Common history a group claims, ex. The historical experience of slavery plays a
powerful role in many African Americans concept of themselves
Claim to kinship is broadly claimed, a claim to history of some sort, and a claim that
certain symbols capture the core of the groups identity
Descent from a common homeland often serves as a broad assertion (declaration) of
common ancestry
Although an ethnic identity is self-conscious, its self-consciousness often has its source in
the labels used by outsiders; the identity that others assign to us can be a powerful force
in shaping our own self-concepts
Others may assign an ethnic identity to us, but what they establish by doing so is an
ethnic category
It is our claim to that identity that makes us an ethnic group
The ethnic category may be externally defined, but the ethnic identity is internally
asserted
Ethnicity is a matter of contrast, an inherently relational construct
An ethnic group cannot exist in isolation
An ethnic group may be politically or numerically dominant within a single state, it may
dominate one state and at the same time be a minority in others
o Never theoretically an isolate
The Definition of Race
Race as Biology
Race can be thought of as a genetically distinct subpopulaton of a given species
Idea of biologically distinct human races emerged orginainally in the extended encounter
between European and non-european peoples, that began in the late 15th and early 16th
centuries
Europeans drew upon the Spanish concept of “purity of blood,” which sanctioned
discrimination against converted Jews, and concluded that often superficial differences
surely indicated more fundamental differences as well
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Document Summary

Not political unity, but to unity of persons of common blood or descent: a people. Ethnikos, ethnicus, referring to heathens, those others who didn"t share the same faith. In english, ethnic referred to someone who was neither christian or jew, drawing of a boundary. Ethnic clearly referred to others, to those who were not us . Max weber subjective meaning of ethnicity, his work ethnicity and society: at the foundation of ethnic attachments lies real or assumed common descent. Ethnic ties are blood ties: the fact of common descent is less important than belief in common descent. Core of definition shifted from webers concern with putative origins and shared history, to currently shared culture, to what group members now do. An ethnic group became a group of persons distinguished largely by a common culture, typically including language, religion, or other patterns of behaviours or belief.

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