Race and Ethnicity Nov. 29, 2012
Chapter 11 – SCP
History of Ethnicity and Race:
Ethnicity- social distinctions and relations among individuals and groups based on their cultural characteristics (language,
religion, customs, history, and so on); groups that we identify chiefly on cultural grounds—language, folk practices, dress,
gestures, mannerisms, or religion
Race- people’s assumed but socially significant physical or genetic characteristics
Racial and ethnic groups are often minority groups.
Emile Durkheim (The Functionalist Perspective):
Social solidarity is based on sameness and the conformity of individual consciousness to the collective.
Similarities among members or sameness within the social group lead members to differentiate between themselves
and others (non-members) and to prefer their ‘own kind’over others.
He believed that the collective consciousness of people leads them to ‘love their country, to like one another, seeking
one another out in preference of foreigners’.
“Us” versus “them” feeling is important in social group formation, reproduction, and maintenance.
Max Weber (The Conflict Perspective):
Social group formation is associated with social practices of inclusion/exclusion, important in turn for the production
and distribution of scarce valuable resources (goods, services, wages, social status/symbols, economic/political power,
equality, and etc)
Common descent, tribe, culture (language and other symbolic codes), religion, and nationality are important ethnic
makers, and determinants of ethnicity.
Ethnicity seen as subjective and presumed identity based – folk-feeling, not on any blood ties.
Side-Note: The Interactionist Perspective: Interactionists say that the world we experience is socially constructed; ethnic
groups are seen as products of social interaction.
Hard primordialism: people are attached to one another and their communities of origin because of their blood ties
Soft primordialism: people’s feelings of affinity, attachment, acceptance, trust, and intimacy toward their ‘own kind’ are not
mediated by blood ties
Race denoted as the common identity of groups based on biological heredity and endogamous conjugal groups
Almost any kind of similarity or contrast of physical type can induce the belief that affinity(liking towards) or
disaffinity exist between groups that attract/repel each other
‘Monopolistic closure’- members of the in-group (we/self) have access to the scarce resources, while members of the out-group
(they/the other) are excluded; the former monopolize and the latter are left out.
Racialization: sets of social processes and practices whereby social relations among people are structured according to
visible physical difference among them to the advantage of those in the visible majority and the disadvantage of those in
Multiculturalism and Its Discontents:
Assimilation- the processes and social practices by which members of minority groups are incorporated into the dominant
culture of a society; refers to those processes whereby groups with distinctive identities become culturally and socially
fused. Melting-pot policies (view): assumes immigrants should discard all of the traditions and distinctions they brought
to the country (U.S) and become nothing but that country (American)
Multiculturalism- a demographic reality, a part of pluralist ideology, a form of struggle among minority groups for access to economic and political resources and a set of government policies and accompanying programs.
Pluralism: advocate tolerance of cultural