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Chapter 7

SOC103H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Bogardus Social Distance Scale, Social Inequality, Interculturalism

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Chapter 7
Racial and Ethnic Groups
Chapter Summary
Race and ethnicity have emerged as important sources of difference in Canada; however,
as emphasized in this chapter, race and ethnicity are historically specific and socially
Sociologists differ widely in their approach to race and ethnic relations. Functionalists
point out that prejudice and discrimination provide benefits for society as a whole, as these
feelings maintain social solidarity. Ethnic solidarity is beneficial to ethnic groups as it provides
individuals with a sense of connectedness. Critical theorists argue that the dominant group
benefits economically from racism: recent immigrants are often streamed into the secondary
labour market. Symbolic interactionists note that members of various racial and ethnic groups are
often referred to in derogatory ways and that racial socialization and the racialization of reality
contribute to racial conflicts.
Although Canada has long been an immigration country, for much of that time, our
immigration policies have been exclusionary. More recently, Canada has adopted a policy of
multiculturalism. While this policy is still contentious, the social distance between racial and
ethnic group is decreasing.
Learning Objectives
In this chapter, you will
learn that racial and ethnic classifications are historically specific and socially
consider the influence of past and present immigration trends on Canadian society, as
well as on social policies, including multiculturalism; and,
discover that the ‘social distance’ between different racial and ethnic groups has shrunk
over the last century, pointing to a brighter future in human interaction.
Key Terms
assimilation: The process by which an outsider or immigrant group becomes indistinguishably
integrated into the dominant host society; similar to acculturation.
diaspora: A dispersion of people through migration, resulting in the establishment and spread of
same-ethnicity communities throughout the world.
diasporic group: Any ethnic group that has established multiple centres of immigrant life
throughout the world.
ethnic enclave: A neighbourhood that is mainly or exclusively populated by people who belong
to the same ethnic group.
ethnic group: A set of people commonly defined as belonging to the same group by virtue of a
common birthplace, ancestry, or culture.
imagined communities: Social groupings, like races or ethnic groups, that are treated as real
because they are widely believed (or imagined) to be real.
institutional completeness: The degree to which a community or enclave has established
services aimed at a particular ethnic community, often in their traditional language.
multiculturalism: A Canadian political and social policy aimed at promoting ethnic tolerance
and ethnic community survival.
race: A set of people commonly defined as belonging to the same group by virtue of common
visible features, such as skin colour or facial characteristics.
racial (or ethnic) socialization: The process by which we learn to perceive and evaluate people
(including ourselves) according to presumed racial or ethnic differences.
racial variations: Differences in behaviour which some people attribute to differences in race.
Recommended Readings
Anderson, B. (1983). Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of
Nationalism. London: Verso.
This classic work discusses the spread of nationalism by means of European colonialism in
Latin America and Asia. It examines the social factors that make people nationalistic, willing
to risk everything in the name of their nations.
Gracia, J. J. E. (ed.) (2007). Race or Ethnicity? On Black and Latino Identity. Ithaca, NY:
Cornell University Press.
This collection of essays explores the relation between race and ethnicity and their
connection to social identity.
Henry, F., & Tator, C. (2005). The Colour of Democracy: Racism in Canadian Society, 3rd ed.
Toronto: Thomson Nelson.
This critique of racism in Canadian policies and institutions examines the contradictions of
multiculturalism and democratic racism in contemporary Canadian society.
Porter, J. (1965). The Vertical Mosaic: An Analysis of Social Class and Power in Canada.
Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
This is the first truly Canadian study on race and ethnicity in Canada, and remains influential
to this day. It asks how and why ethnicity is related to a group’s position in the economic
structure, and examines the role of education in fostering social mobility.
Satzewich, V., & Liodakis, N. (2007). ‘Race’ and Ethnicity in Canada: A Critical Introduction.
Toronto: Oxford University Press.
This book is an excellent and thorough introduction to concepts such as immigration,
aboriginal–non-aboriginal relations, French–English relations, notions of racial and ethnic
identity, sociological explanations for racism, and other race- and/or ethnicity-related issues
in Canada. It encourages critical thinking when examining these topics.
Wade, P. (ed.) (2007). Race, Ethnicity, and Nation: Perspectives from Kinship and Genetics.
New York: Berghahn Books.
This book links the ideas of race and ethnicity with those of family and genetics, in the
context of an ever-diversifying society.
Recommended Websites
Multicultural Canada
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Canadian Heritage
First People’s Heritage Language and Cultural Council