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Ethnic and Racial Disparities in Organizations

Ethnic and Racial Disparities in Organizations

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Published by: Alexander Decker on Aug 13, 2014
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Research on Humanities and Social Sciences www.iiste.org ISSN (Paper)2224-5!! ISSN ("nline)2225-#4$4 ("nline) %ol.4& No.'4& 2#'4
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Ethnic and Racial Disparities in Organizations
r. .. "g*adu
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r. +. +. "rugun.
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"lu,emi u
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"luse/i u
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'.epartment o, 1usiness dministration& ogi State 3niersit/& P..1. '##$. n/ig*a& ogi State 2.epartment o, 1usiness dministration& de6unle asin 3niersit/& 6ung*a& Nigeria 0 -mail o, the corresponding author7 se/iau8gmail.com
Abstract
 thnicit/ and race cannot *e easil/ ignored whilst discussing issues that shape modern societ/. 9he/ are intimatel/ lin6ed that is impossi*le to write one ade:uatel/ without discussing the other. 9his paper reiews selected theoretical perspecties on ethnicit/ and race. ;onse:uences o, ethnic and racial ine:ualities< most especiall/ in the 3nited States& and some cases ethnic ine:ualities in Nigeria were addressed. 9he paper concludes */ stating that in order to minimi=e ethnic and racial discrimination& it is important to encourage and educate the people to em*race diersit/ and multiculturalism& so that di,,erent ethnic and racial groups can create a uni:ue opportunit/ ,or indiiduals to e>perience and discuss the aspects o, racial?ethnic diersit/ in their lies. ,,irmatie action should also *e ta6en in order to address di,,erent races and ethic groups@ access to  powers and priileges.
Keywords:
 thnicit/& Race& iscrimination& "rgani=ations& ulticulturalism& iersit/
Introduction
thnicit/ and race cannot *e easil/ ignored whilst discussing issues that shape modern societ/. 9he/ are intimatel/ lin6ed that is impossi*le to write one ade:uatel/ without discussing the other. Ahilst ethnicit/ is o,ten assumed to *e the cultural identit/ o, a group ,rom a nation state& race is assumed to *e *iological and?or cultural essentiali=ation o, a group hierarch/ o, superiorit/?in,eriorit/ related to their *iological constitution. It is assumed that& *ased on power relations& there e>ist raciali=ed ethnicities and ethnici=ed races. Bros,oguel (2##4) argues that racial?ethnic identit/ is one concept that cannot *e used as separate and autonomous categories.  Notwithstanding the argument o, Bros,oguel& it is important to proide the distinctie clarities o, the two concepts& considering the ,act that authors use them in di,,erent wa/s. Su*se:uent sections o, this paper will reiew theoretical perspecties on these *ac6ground concepts.
Clarifying Ethnicity and Race
Crom a *iological perspectie& a race can *e de,ined as a group or population that shares a set o, genetic characteristics and ph/sical ,eatures. Crom the iewpoint o, arger (2##2)& the term race has *een applied  *roadl/ to groups with similar ph/sical ,eatures-(the Ahite race)& religion - (the +ewish race)& or the entire human species- (the human race). Howeer& generations o, migration& intermarriage& and adaptations to di,,erent  ph/sical enironments hae produced a mi>ture o, races. ;onse:uentl/& there is no such thing as a pure race. Social scientists reect the *iological notions o, race& instead ,aoring an approach that treats race as a social construct. 9o this e,,ect&
 
"mi and Ainant ('DD4) e>plain how race is a concept which signi,ies and s/m*oli=es social con,licts and interests */ re,erring to di,,erent t/pes o, human *odies. Instead o, loo6ing at race as something
objective,
 the/ argued that we can imagine race as an
illusion
- a su*ectie social& political& and cultural construct. ccording to the authors& E9he meaning o, race is de,ined and contested throughout the societ/& in *oth collectie action and personal practice. In the process& racial categories themseles are ,ormed& trans,ormed& destro/ed& and re,ormed@ ("mi and Ainant& 'DD472'). 9he/ ,urther argue that& E9he presence o, a s/stem o, racial meaning and stereot/pes& o, racial ideolog/& seems to *e a permanent ,eature o, 3.S. culture@ ('DD47!F). thnicit/ on the other hand is iewed as a sense o, solidarit/ shared *etween people -(usuall/ related through real or ,ictie 6inship)& who see themseles as distinct and di,,erent ,rom others. (ller& 'DD).  reasona*le oeriew o, the histor/ and meaning o, the concept o,
ethnicity
 and
race
 was noted in ;ornell and HartmannGs  *oo6 thnicit/ and Race 9he term& ethnicit/ itsel, is relatiel/ recent. 1e,ore Aorld Aar II& the term& tri*e was the term o, choice ,or pre-modern societies and race ,or modern societies (+en6ins& 2##'). ue to the close lin6  *etween the term race and Na=i ideolog/& the term ethnicit/ graduall/ replaced race within *oth the nglo-merican tradition and the uropean tradition. (;ornell  Hartmann& 2##!). Bien the ,oregoing& perspecties on ethnicit/ are complicated through the ariet/ o, related terms that is used to denote similar phenomena& such as race& tri*e& and nation and minorit/ group (inger& 'DD4). Some scholars use these terms interchangea*l/& while others treat them as unrelated concepts. In spite o, the ,act that the concepts are *eing used interchangea*l/& the/ are distinct concepts. Pierre an den 1erghe in Smolina (2##F) descri*es race as a special mar6er o, ethnicit/ that uses *iological characteristics as an ethnic mar6er. Ahile the relationship *etween the two concepts is more comple> than that& his generali=ation points in the right direction.
 
Research on Humanities and Social Sciences www.iiste.org ISSN (Paper)2224-5!! ISSN ("nline)2225-#4$4 ("nline) %ol.4& No.'4& 2#'4
42
In this paper& *oth concepts will *e treated as it applies. It should *e noted that most mericans& li6ened the term ethnic to minorit/ groups& li6e ,rican-mericans. 9he/ re,er to ethnic groups as a people outside o,& alien to& and di,,erent ,rom the core population. oreoer& 1ritish scholars& li6e their merican colleagues& t/picall/ see ethnic groups as minorit/ groups in a societ/. 9o them& ethnic groups are de,ined as
a distinct collective group
 o, the population within the larger societ/& whose culture is di,,erent ,rom the mainstream culture. 9he larger uropean tradition& on the contrar/ sees& ethnicit/ as a s/non/m ,or
nationhood 
 or
 people hood 
. In this tradition& eer/one& not ust minorities& *elong to an ethnic group. ", note is the ,act that the uropean usage o, the term ethnicit/ is similar to the Nigerian conceptuali=ation o, ethnic groups.
Theories of ethnicity and Race
 reiew o, literature shows that the de,initions o, ethnicit/ and race eoled ,rom anthropological and sociological theories. ccording to aleseic (2##4)& anthropological theories o, ethnicit/ and race as shown in (9a*le ') can *e grouped into three *asic categories7 Primordialist theories& instrumentalist theories& and constructiist theories .
Table  ! Three "asic Approaches to #nderstanding Ethnicity and Race
 
Theoretical perspecti$es %eaning &ri'ordialist Theories
thnicit/ and race is determined at *irth. thnic identi,ication is *ased on deep& Eprimordial@ attachments to a group or culture.
Instru'ental Theories
thnicit/ and race is *ased on peopleGs
historical 
 and s
 ymbolic
memor/. It is created& used and e>ploited */ leaders and others in the pragmatic  pursuit o, their own interests.
Constructi$ist Theories
thnic and racial identit/ is not something people
 possess
 *ut something the/
construct 
 in speci,ic social and historical conte>ts to ,urther their own interests. It is there,ore ,luid and su*ectie. Source7 aleseic& S. (2##4).
The sociology of ethnicity
.
 Primordialist theories
 Primordialist school of thought argues that ultimately there is some real, tangible, foundation for ethnic identification. The two factors crucial to primordialists as noted in Isajiw (199! include" (1! #ne$s ethnicity is ascribed at birth and% (! one$s ethnicity is more or less fi&ed and permanent. This implies, at birth, a person becomes a member of a particular ethnic group that has a fi&ed identity.  'nthony . )mith, cited in *rodlin (++! argues that ethno-symbolism is a soft form of primordialism. e views the defining elements of ethnic identification as psychological and emotional, emerging from a person$s historical and cultural bac/ground. e also contends that the e&traordinary persistence and resilience of ethnic ties and sentiments, once formed are essentially primordial since they are received through ethnic sociali0ation into one$s ethnic group and are more or less fi&ed. (reit0er, ++2!
 Instrumentalist theories of ethnicity.
This theory was advanced by 'bner 3ohen, Paul 4rass and Ted 5urr. They all see ethnicity as something that can be changed, constructed or even manipulated to gain specific political and6or economic ends. It is an 7lite theory, which argues that the leaders in a modern state ( i.e. elites!, use and manipulate perceptions of ethnic identity to further their own ends and stay in power. (7ri/sen, ++1!.
&ost'odern and constructionist theories of ethnicity(
9his approach lies somewhere *etween ichel CoucaultGs emphasis on construction o, the metaphor and Pierre 1ourdieu@s notions o, practice and ha*itus as the *asic ,actors shaping the structure o, all social phenomena. (Isaiw&'DDF) . 9he *asic notion in this approach is that ethnicit/ is something that is *eing negotiated and constructed in eer/da/ liing. Postmodern theories are concerned with the issue o, group *oundaries and identit/. Scholars operating in this paradigm ,elt that terms li6e7
 group
&
category
 and
boundary
 connotes a ,i>ed identit/- something the/ wanted to aoid. 9his has resulted in much con,usion as arious interest groups are now e>ploiting the elastic nature o, the term ethnicit/. 9he :uestion we tend to as6 at this uncture is< when is a group deemed an ethnic groupJ ller ('DD)& contends that social collectiit/& o, an/ nature and anti:uit/& can carr/ the identit/ o, ethnicit/Kone o, the most elastic o, social conceptsKand sta6e a success,ul claim to identit/ and rights as a group. 9he point is this7 it does not matter i, an/ particular group is reall/ an ethnic group& or what a real ethnic group is< instead& ethnicit/ has  *ecome so central to social discourseKand social competitionKthat its salience and e,,ectieness hae *ecome attractie to all sorts o, collectiities.
 
Research on Humanities and Social Sciences www.iiste.org ISSN (Paper)2224-5!! ISSN ("nline)2225-#4$4 ("nline) %ol.4& No.'4& 2#'4
4F
)ociological &erspecti$es on Ine*ualities based Ethnicity and Race
Functionalist Perspective
9heorists ,rom this school o, thought *eliee that the di,,erences *etween racial and ethnic groups are largel/ cultural. 9he solution to this case is assimilation& a process where minorit/ group mem*ers *ecome part o, the dominant group& losing their original distinct group identit/. Bordon ('D!4) presents a seen-stage assimilation model that *egins ,irst with7 cultural assimilation -(change o, cultural patterns& e.g.& learning the nglish language)& ,ollowed */ structural assimilation-(interaction with mem*ers o, the dominant group)& marital assimilation-(intermarriage)& identi,ication assimilation-(deeloping a sense o, national identit/& e.g.& identi,/ing as a Nigerian& rather than as ;hinese)& attitude receptional assimilation-(a*sence o, preudiced thoughts among dominant and minorit/ group mem*ers)& *ehaioral receptional assimilation- (a*sence o, discrimination& e.g.& lower wages ,or minorities would not e>ist)& and ,inall/ ciic assimilation (a*sence o, alue and power con,licts). 9he contention o, this theor/ is that< assimilation will allow a societ/ to maintain its *alance i, all mem*ers o, societ/& regardless o, their racial or ethnic identit/& adopt one dominant culture. ;ritics argue that this perspectie onl/ assumes that social integration is a shared goal and that mem*ers o, the minorit/ group are willing to assume the dominant group@s identit/ and culture& assuming that the dominant culture is the one and onl/ pre,erred culture (/ers& 2##5). 9he perspectie also assumes that assimilation is the same e>perience ,or all ethnic groups& ignoring the historical legac/ o, slaer/ and racial discrimination in our societ/. Howeer& it should *e noted that assimilation is not the onl/ means to achiee racial-ethnic sta*ilit/. "ther means& according to Leon-Buerrero (2#'#) is pluralism& where each ethnic or racial group maintains its own culture-(cultural pluralism) or a separate set o, social structures and institutions-(structural pluralism). ;ultural  pluralism is also re,erred to as multiculturalism. Cor e>ample& Nigeria& *eing a nation with di,,erent ethnic&  political and religion groups & is an e>ample o, a pluralistic societ/. 9he same also applies to the 3nited States o, merica. Crom the su*mission o, Mhou& in (2##47'5F)& Es merica *ecomes increasingl/ multiethnic& and as ethnic mericans *ecome integral in our societ/& it *ecomes more and more eident that there is no contradiction *etween an ethnic identit/ and an merican identit/.@
Conflict Perspective
In his *oo6 titled7 E;onsereGRacesJ In e,ense o, A1 u 1ois@. "utlaw ('DD!)& states that& it is wrong to spea6 o, race at all as a concept& rather than as a group o, contradictor/ ,orces& ,acts and tendencies. 9he ;on,lict school o, thought ,ocus on how the d/namics o, racial and ethnic relations diide groups while maintaining a dominant group. 9he dominant group ma/ *e de,ined according to racial or ethnic categories& *ut it can also *e de,ined according to social class. Instead o, relationships *ased on consensus (or assimilation)& relationships are *ased on power& ,orce& and coercion. thnocentrism and racism maintain the status :uo */ diiding indiiduals along racial and ethnic lines (/ers& 2##5).u 1ois o*sered the connection *etween racism and capitalist-class oppression in the 3nited States and in other parts o, the world. He noted the lin6  *etween racist ideas and actions to maintain a urocentric s/stem o, domination (Ceagin and 1atur 2##4). 9he su*mission o, A1 u 1ois is noted *elow7 E
Throughout the world today organi0ed groups of men by monopoly of economic and physical power, legal enactment and intellectual training are limiting with great determination and unflagging 0eal the development of other groups% and that the concentration particularly on economic power today puts the majority of man/ind into a slavery to the rest.
('DD!75F2)@ 9he argument o, u 1ois con,orms with ar>@s class anal/sis. 9he ar>ist theorists argue that immigrants constitute a resere arm/ o, wor6ers& mem*ers o, the wor6ing class per,orming o*s that natie wor6ers no longer per,orm. Samers (2##F755) ,urther e>pounded on this */ arguing that immigrants are a E:uantitatiel/ and :ualitatiel/ ,le>i*le la*our ,orce ,or capitalists who diide and wea6en wor6ing class organi=ation and drie down the alue o, la*our power.@ ;onse:uentl/& there is no dou*t that capitalist *usinesses pro,it ,rom migrant wor6ers *ecause the/ are cheaper and ,le>i*le. ", note here is the ,act that e>ploitation o, wor6ers is common in ultinational corporations. Cor instance& most o, the merchandise produced */ 3.S. companies and sold to 3.S. consumers and also as e>port into other countries& were manu,actured */ wor6ers in deeloping countries who earn as little as '2 cents per hour drudging awa/ in harsh and een dangerous wor6 enironments< such wor6places are re,erred to as Esweatshops@ (e/ers& 2##4). 9his practice is discriminator/& inhuman and iolates *asic human rights. oreoer& a tedious o* ,unction& that attracts a paltr/ wage could *e re,erred to as a sweatshop o*. Some de,enders o, capitalism and supporters o, ,ree-mar6et economics hae de,ended sweatshops on the grounds that the/ *ene,it the desperatel/ poor wor6ers o, these impoerished countries who are er/ glad to get the wor6. Cor instance& aitland (2##') argues that the appropriate test ,or E,air wages@ is not whether the wage reaches some predetermined standard *ut whether it is ,reel/ accepted */ reasona*l/ in,ormed wor6ers. In this paper& we do not su*scri*e to the ,act that wor6ers should *e paid e>cessiel/ low wages. In particular& we see6 to challenge the claim that one cannot wrong someone */ *ene,iting him?her& especiall/ i, he?she

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