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Introduction to Sociology SOC-101 Unit 9 – Race and Ethnicity.

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1 Introduction to Sociology SOC-101 Unit 9 – Race and Ethnicity

2 Laying the Sociological Foundation  Race is a reality in the sense that humans do come in different colors and shapes  However, two of the myths regarding race are that one race is superior to another and that a pure race exists  These myths make a difference in social life because people believe they are real and act on their beliefs  Race and ethnicity are often confused due to the cultural differences people see and the way they define race  Ethnicity refers to cultural characteristics that distinguish a people

3 Laying the Sociological Foundation  Minority groups are people singled out for unequal treatment  They regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination  The shared characteristics of minorities worldwide are:  Physical or cultural traits that distinguish them are held in low esteem by the dominant group, which treats them unequally  They tend to marry within their own group  They tend to feel strong group solidarity

4 Laying the Sociological Foundation  Minority groups are not necessarily in the numerical minority  Dominant Group  Those who do the discriminating  They have greater power, more privileges, and higher social status  The dominant group attributes its privileged position to its superiority, not to discrimination  A group becomes a minority through the expansion of political boundaries by another group  Another way for a group to become a minority, either voluntarily or involuntarily, is by migration into a territory

5 Laying the Sociological Foundation  Individuals vary considerably in terms of how they construct their racial-ethnic identity  Some people feel an intense sense of ethnic identity, while others feel very little  Ethnic identity is influenced by the relative size and power of the ethnic group, its appearance, and the level of discrimination aimed at the group  If a group is relatively small, has little power, has a distinctive appearance, and is an object of discrimination, its members will have a heightened sense of ethnic identity

6 Laying the Sociological Foundation  Ethnic work  Refers to how people construct their ethnic identity and includes enhancing and maintaining a group’s distinctiveness or attempting to recover their ethnic heritage  The idea of the U.S. as a melting pot?  Different groups quietly blending together into an ethnic stew, is undermined by the fact that many people today are engaged in ethnic work  A better metaphor would be “tossed salad”

7 Laying the Sociological Foundation  Prejudice and discrimination are common throughout the world  Discrimination  Unfair treatment directed toward someone  When based on race, it is known as racism  It can also be based on features such as age, sex, sexual preference, religion, or politics  Prejudice  Prejudging of some sort, usually in a negative way

8 Laying the Sociological Foundation  Ethnocentrism  Using one’s own culture as a yardstick for judging the ways of other individuals or societies  Is so common that each racial/ethnic group views other groups as inferior in some way  Studies confirm that there is less prejudice among the more educated and among younger people

9 Laying the Sociological Foundation  Sociologists distinguish between individual and institutional discrimination:  Individual discrimination is negative treatment of one person by another  Too limited a perspective because it focuses only on individual treatment  Institutional discrimination is negative treatment of a minority group that is built into a society’s institutions  Focuses on human behavior at the group level  Examples include certain mortgage lending practices and health care availability

10 Theories of Prejudice  Psychological Perspectives:  According to John Dollard, prejudice results from frustration: people unable to strike out at the real source of their frustration find scapegoats to unfairly blame  According to Theodor Adorno, highly prejudiced people are characterized by excess conformity, intolerance, insecurity, heightened respect for authority, and submission to superiors  He called this complex of personality traits the authoritarian personality  Subsequent studies have generally concluded that people who are older, less educated, less intelligent, and from a lower social class are more likely to be authoritarian

11 Theories of Prejudice  Functionalists  The social environment can be deliberately arranged to generate either positive or negative feelings about people  Prejudice can be a product of pitting groups against each other in an “I win/you lose” situation  It is functional in that it creates in-group solidarity and out- group antagonism  It is dysfunctional in that prejudice destroys social relationships and intensifies conflict

12 Theories of Prejudice  Conflict Theorists  The ruling class benefits when it systematically pits group against group by:  Creating a split labor market which divides workers along racial- ethnic lines and weakens solidarity among the workers  Maintaining higher unemployment rates for minorities, creating a reserve labor force from which owners can draw when they need to temporarily expand production  Workers from different racial-ethnic groups learn to fear and distrust one another instead of recognizing common interests and working for their mutual benefit

13 Theories of Prejudice  Symbolic Interactionists  The labels people learn color their perception and lead them to see certain things and be blind to others  Racial and ethnic labels are especially powerful because they are shorthand for emotionally laden stereotypes  The stereotypes that we learn not only justify prejudice and discrimination, but they also lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy about it

14 Global Patterns of Intergroup Relations  Genocide  The actual, or attempted, systematic annihilation of a race or ethnic group who has been labeled as less than fully human by the dominant group  Dehumanizing labels are powerful forces that help people to compartmentalize—separate their acts from any feelings that would threaten their self-concept—thereby making it difficult for them to participate in the act  The Holocaust and the treatment of Native Americans are examples of genocide.

15 Global Patterns of Intergroup Relations  Population transfer  The involuntary movement of a minority group  Indirect transfer involves making life so unbearable that the minority group members leave  Direct transfer involves forced expulsion  A combination of genocide and population transfer occurred in Bosnia (a part of the former Yugoslavia) when Serbs engaged in ethnic cleansing—the wholesale slaughter of Muslims and Croats, which forced survivors to flee the area

16 Global Patterns of Intergroup Relations  Internal colonialism  A society’s policy of exploiting a minority by using social institutions to deny it access to full benefits  Slavery is an extreme example  Segregation  The formal separation of groups  Often accompanies internal colonialism  The dominant group exploits the labor of the minority while maintaining social distance

17 Global Patterns of Intergroup Relations  Assimilation  The process by which a minority is absorbed into the mainstream  Forced assimilation occurs when the dominant group prohibits the minority from using its own religion, language, and customs  Permissive assimilation is when the minority adopts the dominant group’s patterns in its own way, at its own speed  Multiculturalism (pluralism)  Permits or encourages racial and ethnic variation  Switzerland provides an outstanding example of this

18 Racial-Ethnic Relations in the U.S.  The major racial-ethnic groups in the U.S. are White European Americans, African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans  In the U.S., the dominant group is made up of whites whose ancestors emigrated here from European countries  White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) were highly ethnocentric and viewed white ethnics—the Irish, Germans, Poles, Jews, and Italians—as inferior

19 Racial-Ethnic Relations in the U.S.  Immigrants were expected to blend into the mainstream, speak English, and adopt the dominant group’s way of life  It was the grandchildren of the immigrants, the third generation, who most easily adjusted  As these white ethnics assimilated into Anglo culture, the definition of WASP was expanded to include them  Because the English first settled the colonies, they established the institutions and culture to which later immigrants had to conform

20 Latinos  The largest ethnic group in the U.S.  Includes Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans, and people from Central or South America  Concentrated primarily in four states: California, Texas, New York, and Florida  They are causing major demographic shifts  The Spanish language distinguishes them from other minorities  Perhaps half are unable to speak English without difficulty  This is a major obstacle to getting well-paid jobs.

21 Latinos  Divisions based on social class and country of origin prevent political unity among these Latino groups  Compared with non-Hispanic whites and Asian Americans, Latinos are worse off on all indicators of well- being  The country of origin is significant, with Cuban Americans scoring the highest on indicators of well-being and Puerto- Rican Americans scoring the lowest

22 African Americans  Face a legacy of racism  Following the end of the Civil War, southern states passed Jim Crow laws that separated blacks and whites  In 1955, African Americans in Montgomery, Alabama, using the nonviolent tactics advocated by Martin Luther King, Jr., protested laws they believed to be unjust  This led to the civil rights movement that challenged existing patterns of racial segregation throughout the south  The 1964 Civil Rights Act banned discrimination in public facilities  The 1965 Voting Rights Act banned literacy tests used to prevent African Americans from voting

23 African Americans  Frustration over the slow pace of change led to urban riots and passage of the 1968 Civil Rights Act  Since then, African Americans have made political and economic progress  For example, African Americans have quadrupled their membership in the U.S. House of Representatives in the past 25 years  As college enrollment continues to increase, the middle class has expanded so that now one of every four African American families makes more than $40,000 annually  African Americans such as Jesse Jackson, Douglas Wilder, Deval Patrick, Condoleezza Rice, and Barack Obama are politically prominent

24 African Americans  Despite these gains, however, African Americans continue to lag behind in politics, economics, and education  They average 59% of whites’ incomes  Only 17% graduate from college  About one of every five African American families makes less than $15,000 annually  According to William J. Wilson, social class (not race) is the major determinant of quality of life  The African American community today is divided into two groups

25 African Americans  Middle-class African Americans  Seized opportunities created by civil rights legislation and advanced economically, moving out of the inner city  They have moved up the class ladder, live in good housing, have well- paid jobs, and send their children to good schools  Poorly educated and unskilled African Americans  As opportunities for unskilled labor declined, they were left behind  They still live in poverty, face violent crime and dead-end jobs, attend terrible schools, and live in hopelessness and despair  Willie challenges Wilson, arguing that discrimination based on race persists  This is despite gains made by some African Americans  It is likely that both discrimination and social class contribute to the African American experience

26 Asian Americans  They too have long faced discrimination in the U.S.  The history of Asian Americans is one of discrimination and prejudice  Chinese Americans were frequently the victims of vigilante groups and anti-Chinese legislation  After the attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II, hostilities increased, with many Japanese Americans being imprisoned in “relocation camps”  When immigrants from Japan began to arrive in the United States they experienced “spillover bigotry”  A stereotype that lumped all Asians together, depicting them as sneaky, lazy, and untrustworthy

27 Asian Americans  Asian Americans are a diverse group divided by separate cultures  Although there are variations in income among Asian American groups, on the average Asian Americans have been extremely successful  This success can be traced to three factors:  A close family life  Educational achievement  Assimilation into the mainstream  Asian Americans are becoming more prominent in politics, serving as governors of Hawaii, Louisiana, and Washington

28 Native Americans  Due to the influence of old movie westerns, many Americans tend to hold stereotypes of Native Americans as uncivilized savages and a single group of people subdivided into separate bands  In reality, Native Americans represent a diverse group of people with a variety of cultures and languages  Although originally numbering between 5 and 10 million, their numbers were reduced to a low of 250,000 at the end of the nineteenth century due to a lack of immunity to European diseases and warfare  Today there are about 3 million Native Americans

29 Native Americans  At first, relations between European settlers and the Native Americans were peaceful  However, as the number of settlers increased, tensions grew  Because they stood in the way of expansion, many Native Americans were slaughtered  Government policy shifted to population transfer, and Native Americans were confined to reservations  Today they are an invisible minority  Almost half live in rural areas, with one-third concentrated in Oklahoma, California, and Arizona  They have the highest rates of poverty, unemployment, suicide, and alcoholism of any U.S. minority  These negative conditions are the result of Anglo domination

30 Native Americans  In the 1960s Native Americans won a series of legal victories that restored their control over the land and their right to determine economic policy  Many Native American tribes have opened businesses, ranging from industrial parks to casinos  Today, many Native Americans are interested in recovering their own traditions  Pan-Indianism emphasizes common elements that run through Native American cultures in order to develop self-identification that goes beyond any one tribe

31 Looking Towards the Future  As U.S. society is now in the 21 st century, two issues that will have to be resolved are immigration and affirmative action  Immigration  The first great wave of immigrants arrived from Europe at the end of the 19 th and beginning of the 20 th centuries  The second wave, since 1980, has brought immigrants from around the world and is contributing to the changing U.S. racial/ethnic mix  In some states, such as California, all minorities combined represent the majority of the population  Many are concerned that this influx of immigrants will change the character of U.S. society, including the primacy of the English language

32 Looking Towards the Future  Affirmative action is at the core of the national debate about how to steer a course in race and ethnic relations  Some see affirmative action as the more direct way to level the playing field of economic opportunity, while others say that it results in reverse discrimination  There is still no consensus about the proper role of affirmative action in a multicultural society  In order to achieve a multicultural society will require that groups with different histories and cultures learn to accept one another  We must begin to examine our history and question many of its assumptions and symbols


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