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Chapter 9

SOC 100 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: Theodor W. Adorno, Selective Perception, The Authoritarian Personality

Course Code
SOC 100

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Race and Ethnicity
Aims and objectives:-
To understand various sociological foundation of Race and Ethnicity
To understand the concepts of Prejudice and Discrimination
To understand Theories of Prejudice
To understand Global Patterns of Intergroup Relationships
To understand Racial-Ethnical Relations in the U.S.
To understand various Issues Dominating U.S. Race-Ethnic Relations
9.1 Sociological foundation of Race and Ethnicity:
Race and Ethnicity are two characteristics entwined into our daily life. Sociology contributes in
understanding these aspects of life. Let us examine these characteristics in detail in the coming
9.1.1. Race:
A race maybe defined as a group who inherent certain set of physical characteristics
distinguishing them for the other group. The basis of categorization is a particular set of
physical characteristics. Let us examine certain myths and realities associated with Race.
The Reality of Human Variety: As a consequence to evolution and genetic mutation,
the distinct physical characteristics are very much a reality. In this sense, the concept of
race is a reality.
The Myth of Pure Races: There are no ‘pure’ races. All human show a mixture of
physical characteristics. A mapping of human genome system shows the physical
characteristics differ as a difference in thousand subunits of the genome.

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The Myth of a Fixed Number of Races: There is ongoing argument among the biologist
and anthropologist about the number of races. Some scientists have classified races into
two while some had classified them into as many as two thousand.
The Myth of Racial Superiority: The division on the basis of races as superior and
inferior is prevalent in the society even today. However, on the contrary, no race is
superior to the other. Even after repeated affirmation of scientist, genocide, that is
attempting to destroy a group because of their presumed race or ethnicity, is prevailing
in the society.
No matter how much proof and affirmation is provided to contradict, the myth that a
race can be superior to another is still prevalent in the society today.
9.1.2. Ethnic Groups:
Ethnicity and ethnic refers to cultural characteristics. The groups are classified on the basis of
common ancestry and cultural heritage. The sense of belonging may because of a nation, region
of origin, distinctive foods, clothing, language, music, religion or family name and relationship.
Races and Ethnic groups are different from one another as one (race) distinguishes on the basis
of physical characters and other on the cultural characteristics.
9.1.3. Minority Groups and Dominant Groups:
According to sociologist Louis Wirth, minority groups are people who singled out for unequal
treatment and who regard themselves as objects of collective discriminations. They are
discriminated, treated unfairly and held in low esteem by the dominant group. These conditions
create a sense of identity among minorities.
Ironically a minority is not called so on the basis of numerical minority status.
These so called minority groups are controlled and dominated by the dominating
group. The dominating group has a greater power and privilege over the minority
group. They (dominating group) have a combination of political power and physical
and cultural traits.
A minority group can be created in two ways. It can be either by expansion of
political boundaries or by migration of groups. With the exception of females, tribal
society contains no minority group.
9.1.4. Ethnic Work:
Sociologist Ashley Doane identified four factors that enhance the sense of ethnicity within the
individual. They are (i) size, (ii) power, (iii) appearance, and (iv) Discrimination. Ethnic works
are the activities designed to discover, enhance, maintain or transmit an ethnic or racial
identity. The purpose for the work varies from enhancing ethnic identity to retrieving some lost

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9.2. Prejudice and Discrimination:
Prejudice and discrimination are significant in social life and are common throughout the world.
Discrimination maybe defines as an action amounting to unfair treatment towards an
individual or a group. Discrimination can be based on characteristics such as age, sex, height
etc. The discrimination based on someone’s perception of race is called racism. Prejudice may
be defined as an attitude or prejudicing, usually in a negative way. When the prejudice is in
considering a group superior to the individual’s group it is called positive prejudice. However,
most prejudice is a negative prejudice. Discrimination is often the result of prejudice.
Some of the interesting facts about prejudice are:-
Prejudice is usually learned from associating with others.
According to a study conducted by Eugene Hartley, prejudice does not necessarily have
anything to do with negative experience with others. He also concluded that people who
are prejudices against one racial or ethnic group tend to be prejudiced against other
Another characteristic of prejudice is internalizing dominant norms. The minority groups
tend to be prejudiced by the dominant’s norm even among them. Implicit Association
Test is created to study this behavior.
9.2.1. Individual and Institutional Discrimination:
Individual discrimination is the negative treatment of one person by another and Institutional
discrimination is the negative treatment of a minority group that is built into society’s
institutions. Institutional discrimination is also called systemic discrimination. As individual
discrimination is primarily an issue between two individuals, socialist often consider institutional
discrimination only.
Some of the instance of institutional discrimation is Home mortgages and health care. According
to Thomas, a sociologist, African Americans and Latinos were 60 percent likely to be rejected on
an application for mortgage than a white. This same distinction can be seen in the health care.
Discrimination is not always deliberate. There are also instances of unintentional
9.3. Theories of Prejudice:
Theories of prejudice can be studied on a psychological level and on sociological level. Sections
(9.3.1) and (9.3.2.) deals in detail about both perspectives of theories of prejudice.
9.3.1. Psychological Perspectives:
Upon psychological perspective two different theories of prejudice exist. They are:
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