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SOC101Y1 (470)

Race and Ethnic Relations Notes

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University of Toronto St. George
Robert Brym

Chapter 8 Race and Ethnic Relations The Field Defined Sociology of race and ethnic relations Concerns primarily study of how power and resources are unequally distributed among racial and ethnic groupsQuestions raised in field include What are conditions under which ethnic and racial groups come into contactWhich ethnic and racial groups hold power in society How do they exercise powerWhat are social consequences of unequal distribution of power and resourcesy Other questions include Are there social and economic advantages associated with having a particular ethnic or racial backgroundHow have ethnic and racial groups challenged inequality and power imbalancesHow have governments tried to manage and contain ethnic and racial conflictEthnicity The Social Construction of DifferenceMisguided assumption that race and ethnicity are ascribed statuses rather than achieved statuses ie statuses acquired by virtue of social definitionEthnicity may be defined in two waysby group language culture customs national origin and ancestry 1 Objectively2 Subjectively by selfidentification of group members y Most people think of race and ethnicity as referring to unchangeable cultural or biological characteristics that people are born with y Sociologists recognize that ethnicity and race are socially defined and do changethey are acquired rather than ascribed characteristicsPrejudice and Discrimination Prejudice Unfavorable generalized and rigid belief applied to all members of a group Discrimination Practices that deny members of particular groups equal access to societal 1Chapter 8 Race and Ethnic Relations rewardsRace The Social Construction of Difference Race Socially constructed label used to describe certain kinds of physical differences between peopleGenetic differences between racial groups are arbitrary small and behaviorally insignificantDespite social construction race and ethnicity are important parts of our social realityMany continue to believe in existence of race and ethnicity and organize their relationships with others based on those beliefsy Since the 1930s scientists began to raise doubts about the scientific validity of the concept of race y Since the 1950s the scientific consensus is that racial classifications of humanity are arbitrary y Members of the same race genetically defined necessarily share only about 02 of all human genes y Classification of humans into races is now widely regarded as arbitrary from a biological viewpoint y However racial groups are real in a sociological sense insofar as people with different skin color etc are commonly treated differentlyRacism Biological versions refer to belief that Racism Humans are subdivided into distinct hereditary groups that are innately different in social behavior and mental capacities and Can be ranked as superior or inferior But claims for inherent superiority or inferiority discreditedThe New Racism 2
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