You are on page 1of 6

Chapter 9: Ethnic Relations and Race Race is a socially constructed reality, not a biological one Race: a category of people

le who have been singled out as inferior or superior, often on the basis of real or alleged physical characteristics, such as skin colour, hair texture, eye shape, or other subjectively selected attributes (Caucasian- light skin and fine hair, Negroid- dark skin and coarse curly hair, Mongoloid- yellow or brown skin and distinctively shaped eyelids) Race only refers to physical characteristics Ethnicity refers to cultural features Ethnic group: collection of people distinguished, by others or by themselves, primarily on the basis of cultural or nationality characteristics Ethnic groups share 5 main characteristics: o Unique cultural traits (ex. language, clothing, holidays, religious practice) o Sense of community o Feeling of ethnocentrism o Ascribed membership from birth o Territoriality, or a tendency to occupy a distinct geographic area The Social Significance of Race and Ethnicity o Race matters because it provides privilege and power for some o Fleras and Elliot: white privilege o Ethnicity like race is a basis of hierarchical ranking in society o John Porter: Canada is a vertical mosaic made up of different ethnic groups wielding varying degrees of social and economic power, status, and prestige Significant degree of ethnic stratification with some ethnic groups heavily represented in upper strata or elite and other groups heavily represented in the lower strata The dominant group holds power over other ethnic groups o Jason and Matthews: vertical mosaic now resemble more of a coloured mosaic This revised mosaic is more of a reflection of minority-group status than the ethnicity of particular disadvantaged groups in society Majority and Minority Groups o Majority (or dominant) group: one that is advantaged and has superior resources and rights in society o Minority (or subordinate) group: one whose members, because of physical or cultural characteristics, are disadvantaged and subjected to unequal treatment by the dominant group and who regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination (visible minorities and white women) o Visible minorities: an official government category of non-white, non-Caucasian individuals


Prejudice: negative attitude based on preconceived notions about members of selected groups o Can be positive- bias in favour of a group, often our own o Negative- bias against a group, one we deem less worthy than our own Racial prejudices: beliefs that certain racial groups are innately inferior to others or have disproportionate number of negative traits Stereotypes: overgeneralizations about the appearance, behaviour, or other characteristics of members of particular groups o Ethnocentrism maintained and perpetuated by stereotypes o Sources of stereotypes: media, ethnic jokes Measuring Prejudice o Social distance: the extent to which people are willing to interact and establish relationships with members of racial and ethnic groups other than their own o Emory Bogardus developed a scale to measure social distance in specific situations ranging from minimal contact to marriage. He concluded that some groups were consistently ranked as more desirable than others for close interpersonal contacts

DISCRIMINATION Discrimination: actions or practices of dominant-group members (or their representatives) that have a harmful impact on members of a subordinate group Prejudice is an attitude, discrimination is actions Discrimination takes two basic forms: de jure- legal discrimination, which is encoded in laws and de facto- informal discrimination, which is entrenched in social customs and institutions De jure discrimination has been backed by explicitly discriminatory laws De facto discrimination is more subtle and less visible to public scrutiny therefore much more difficult to eradicate

RACISM Racism: a set of ideas that implies the superiority of one social group over another on the basis of biological or cultural characteristics, together with the power to put these beliefs into practice in a way that denies or excludes minority members Fleras and Elliott o Overt racism: may take the form of public statements about the inferiority of members of a racial or ethnic group. This form of racism is often described as rednecked racism or hate racism o Polite racism: an attempt to disguise a dislike of others through behaviour that outwardly is non-prejudicial (ex. members of visible minorities ignored or turned down for jobs or promotions on a regular basis) o Subliminal racism: a subconscious racism that occurs when there is a conflict of values. Subliminal racism is not directly expressed but is demonstrated in opposition to progressive minority policies or programs

Institutionalized racism: made up of the rules, procedures, and practices that directly or indirectly promote, sustain, or entrench differential advantage or privilege for dominant group members (ex. firefighters and police officers requirements favour white applicants over minorities and males over females)

SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ETHNIC RELATIONS AND RACE Symbolic Interactionist Perspectives o Contact hypothesis: interactionists point out that contact between people from divergent groups should lead to favourable attitudes and behaviour when certain factors are present o Members of each group must have Equal status Pursue the same goals Cooperate with one another to achieve their goals Receive positive feedback when they interact with one another in positive, nondiscriminatory ways o Interactionists examine how micro level contacts between people may produce either greater racial tolerance or increased levels of hostility o Microlevel contacts between individuals Functionalist Perspectives o Functionalists focus on the macro level intergroup processes that occur between members of majority and minority groups in society o Assimilation: process by which members of subordinate racial and ethnic groups become absorbed into the dominant culture Assimilation is beneficial because it contributes to the stability of society by minimizing group differences that otherwise might result in hostility and violence Cultural assimilation/acculturation: members of an ethnic group adopt dominant-group traits (ex. language, dress, values, religion, food preferences) Biological assimilation/amalgamation: members of one group marry those of other social or ethnic groups Psychological assimilation: a change in racial or ethnic self-identification on the part of an individual. Rejection by the dominant group may prevent psychological assimilation by members of some subordinate racial and ethnic groups o Ethnic pluralism: coexistence of a variety of distinct racial and ethnic groups within one society Equalitarian pluralism/accommodation: situation in which ethnic groups coexist in equality with one another Objective of multiculturalism is to promote unity through diversity

Neil Bissoondath suggests that multiculturalism serves to discourage differences and alienates people from mainstream society, which detracts from national unity o In-equalitarian pluralism, or segregation Segregation: spatial and social separation of categories of people by race, ethnicity, class, gender, and/or religion Segregation may be enforced by law (de jure) or by custom (de facto) Conflict Perspectives o Focus on economic stratification and access to power in their analysis of race and ethnic relations o Conflict theorists analyze power and economic differentials between the dominant and subordinate groups o Internal colonialism: a situation in which members of a racial or ethnic group are conquered or colonized and forcibly placed under the economic and political control of the dominant group Ex. aboriginals The experiences of internally colonized groups are unique in three ways: They have been forced to exist in a society other than their own They have been kept out of the economic and political mainstream, so that it is difficult for them to compete with dominant-group members They have been subjected to severe attacks on their own culture, which may lead to its extinction o The Split-Labour-Market Theory: both white workers and members of the capitalist class benefit from the exploitation of visible minorities Split labour market: the division of the economy into two areas of employmenta primary sector, or upper tier, composed of higher-pain (usually dominantgroup) workers in more secure jobs, and a secondary sector, or lower tier, made up of lower-paid (often subordinate-group) workers in jobs with little security and hazardous working conditions White workers in the upper tier may use racial discrimination against nonwhites to protect their positions because they feel threatened by lower-tier workers hired by capitalists to maximize corporate profits and reduce labour costs Feminist Perspectives o Minority women are doubly disadvantaged as a result of their gender o Feminists highlight the interactive effects of racism and sexism on the exploitation of women who are members of visible minority groups o Gendered racism: interactive effect of racism and sexism in the exploitation of women of colour

Philomena Essed- womens particular position must be explored within each racial or ethnic group because their experiences will not have been the same as the mens in each grouping Postmodern Perspectives o View ethnic and racial identities as largely a consequence of personal choice (agency) and subjective definition o Postmodernists focus on the fluid nature of racial and ethnic identities and examine how these concepts are socially constructed o Racist discourse serves to sustain and reinforce patterns of discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities o Michel Foucault- discourse used to refer to different ways of structuring knowledge and social practice o Postmodernists view reality as constructed through a broad range of discourses which include all that is written, spoken, or otherwise represented through language and communication systems o Focus on deconstructing: analyzing the assumptions and meanings embedded in scientific works o Racist discourse or racialized discourse: a collection of words, images, and practices through which racial power is directed against ethnic and racial minority groups o Frances Henry and Carol Tator- found examples of racist discourse that serve to sustain or perpetuate racism in our society Discourse of denial suggests that racism simply doesnt exist in our Canadian society. When racism is shown to exist, discourse of denial will explain it away as an isolated incident Discourse of colour-blindness: white people insist they do not notice the skin colour of a racial-minority person. By claiming to be colour blind theyre able to ignore power differentials they experience as a result of their whiteness An Alternative Perspective: Critical Race Theory o Critical race theory: a growing dissatisfaction with the failure to acknowledge and recognize the critical roles that race and racism have played in the political and legal structures of Canadian society o Interest convergence: crucial factor in bringing about social change o Derrick Bell- white elites tolerate or encourage racial advances for people of colour only if the dominant-group members believe that their own self-interest will be served in so doing o Racism as an ingrained feature of society that affects everyones daily life o Laws may remedy overt discrimination but have little effect on subtle racism. Interest convergence is required for social change


North American Indians: those in southern part of Canada, Yukon, and Mackenzie Valley Inuit: those located in the eastern Arctic and northern islands, who were formerly referred to as Eskimos o Metis: live mostly in the Prairies are descendants of Indian and non-Indian unions o Genocide, Forced Migration, and Forced Assimilation Trail of Tears: forced migration, more than half of the Cherokee Nation died White ethnics: term coined to identify immigrants who came from European countries other than England

o o