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Race & Ethnicity

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Social problems: Chapter 3: Race and Ethnic Relations
Learning objectives
1. Learn that social distance is maintained between different racial and ethnic groups
2. How racial and ethnic conflict occurs in Canada
3. To recognize the varying intensities of prejudice
4. To understand the process of chain migration
5. To know what is meant by ‘vertical mosaic
6. To understand different theoretical perspectives on racial and ethnic inequality
7. To understand social and health effects of ethnic and racial inequality
8. To identify possible solutions to race and ethnic inequality
-People view racial prejudice as unfair, tend to look for remedies
-Since it is unfair, it creates conflict between majorities and minorities and those who are prejudiced
and those who are not
-Prejudice and its outcome of discrimination, conflict, exclusion, hatred and distrust are politically and
economically wasteful waste human recourse and hinder societys potential for prosperity
-No matter how we define the causes and allocate the blame, it is a problem in the Canadian society
-Is race a social construction?
-Some people believe that race is a biological fact
oEssential and permanent feature of any human being
oThey see race as having unique physiological characteristics based in genetic differences that
are specific to certain races
oThey also believe that certain cultural and personality dispositions are genetically based as
oPeople who take this approach generally believe that there are three categories in the human
species: black, white and yellow
-Scientists reject this view of race because races are more alike than they are different
oOnly a fraction of the genetic make up varies by characteristic typically associated with race
o85% of genetic variability can be found within a single local population

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oPhysical features (skin, eye and hair color and texture), commonly associated with race are not
genetically associated
-Yet, may continue to believe that race is a valid form of biological distinction
oAlthough many reject the ideas of racism, they believe the idea of race is a significant one
oFrom the sociological perspective race is significant, race may be only a social construction,
but as long as a large number of people continue to believe that race makes a difference, the
idea of race will continue to influence the social order and social inequality
-Some believe that if race and ethnicity are not the same, they are closely related
-But cultural differences can exist between people who look the same, but they seem more significant
and prominent when they are sharpened by clear differences in physical appearance
-Physical features shared by one race are a supposed result of different survival adaptations during the
course of the evolution
-Race and ethnicity are not necessarily connected
-People my look the same and be from different cultural backgrounds or they may look different and be
from the same cultural background
-Cultural features are the result of shared experiences by a group of people, that are inherited in a
certain way given the historical and regional background
-There are differences between ethnic groups which lie in historical reasons
-Cultural groups are created by social interactions
-Ethnic groups form through relations, by the methods of inclusion and exclusion of symbols of real or
imagined common descent, such as a common language, common rituals, and common folklore
-There are social in nature, they can be learned
-Ethnic boundaries can be made and unmade over time
-Culture is the way of life of a society that includes dress, language, norms of behaviour, food, tools,
beliefs, and folklore; this framework of values and practices adapts to the changing socio-historic
oCulture is not constant or permanent
oCulture frames peoples lives
oWe cannot deduce peoples ethnic affiliation from their appearance, language or religion or
other markers used to place group members
Multiculturalism in Canada
-Immigration has been important throughout Canadian history, making it an important political issue

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oCanadas multicultural policy first set up in 1971, influenced by both political and sociological
oDuring the proceedings on biculturalism and bilingualism, members of other ethnic minorities
spoke up, declaring the old policy of assimilation as being unjust
Minority groups made sacrifices during the depression and the wars just like the rest of
Canadians therefore they deserve the same kind of respect and the same benefits of
Canadian citizenship worthy of inclusion as the charter groups
New model of citizenship participation that included all the ethnic groups
Unlike US melting pot cultural mosaic
Opposed assimilation and demanded that government policy recognize their group
distinctness and group survival
Royal Commission agreed recommended that government support cultural
pluralism thus Canadian institutions should reflect these views in their programs
and policies
PM Trudeau supported this, some say, to win the ethnic vote – if so, he succeeded;
others said to weaken the effect of demands made by Quebec nationalists for unique
rights within the Confederation, Trudeau rejected this, saying it would weaken the
federal state
-1971 Multiculturalism act multiculturalism within a bilingual framework
o1982 the desire to preserve and enhance the multicultural heritage was entrenched in the
1988 New Canadian Multicultural Act became law
-Two types of multiculturalism traditional or liberal multiculturalism and modern multiculturalism
oTraditional multiculturalism or pluralism is concerned with protecting the rights of the
individual, it protects the rights of the minority groups, for example, through provincial human
rights codes
oModern multiculturalism is concerned with the survival of a diverse cultural group, the
individual is treated as a member of an ethnic or racial group; the group not the individual is
protected by law
-The difference between two, for example in approaching civil liberties, traditional multiculturalism
protects the individual job seeker against bias, while modern multiculturalism supports blanker
preferences, such as employment equity, to promote the hiring of a disadvantaged group
-Policy closely tied to employment equity is affirmative action, which gives preferences to some
groups over others, while some groups are advantaged and the others are disadvantaged, people may
begin to wonder who to include under labels of ‘visible minority’ and ‘disabled person
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