SOCI 1001 Week 8 lecture notes Essay.
Sociology 1001- Race, Ethnicity & Stratification
1. Race, ethnicity & stratification in general
– Majority/ minority and power relations
– Some social classes are more powerful. We stratify class and gender
– When we look at race and ethnicity ties into issues of power, instead relations between
ethnic and other groups are unequal
– Ethnic diversity is integrated into a system of structural inequality- therefore- our society
is characterized by ethnic stratification
– Ethnic stratification: the ordering of ethnic groups into a hierarchical of inequality,
where some groups are dominant and hold greater power over other subordinate ethnic
groups.SOCI 1001 Week 8 lecture notes Essay.
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– To speak about ethnic relations is to speak about ethnic inequality
o Majority/ minority groups- when we talk about these in context of race and
ethnicity; aren’t talking about how large the groups are, instead unequal power,
women’s groups can be considered minorities (51% of pop)
2. Ethnicity/ ethnic groups
– First component- (1) unique cultural traits: features that are specific to them (language,
– (2) sense of community: high level interaction with community
– (3) membership from birth: born into ethnic group
– (4) concept of distinctiveness: sense among members, something distinct amount them.,
“a sense of us in them”, a boundary between groups
– Ethnic group: a group who, as a result of their shared cultural traits and a high level of
interaction, regard themselves and are regarded as a cultural unit
– the historically dominant group in our society, is also an ethnic group, often an
understanding that does not come across in many stereotypical ethnicities, used to
members of dominant groups, we all belong to an ethnic group, depends on stratifications
which are valued. Main idea: besides power, when we talk about ethnicity we often link
to cultural factors
3. Race (a socio-cultural understanding)
– Generally been understood as more to do with physical traits and biology. Concept of
race is highly influenced by western though and experience. Permeates culture, social
practice and interactions.
– relative and often hard to pin point, who belongs to a certain race has changed over time,
differs from culture to culture. Race is not simply biological as perceived.
– Race: refers to the ‘social construction’ of a category of difference between population of
people. Is the result of an arbitrary value system imposed on the facts of biological
variations in the human species?
– We base race on physical differences and believe they are evidence of existence of
different races, views of race are perpetuated by continuous use of this belief-
stereotypes. Biological race is part of natural order- we take this for granted. However,
sociology treats race as a sociocultural phenomenon- separate from physical variations
o Not about denying fact about physical variations- instead focusing on the fact that
the concept of race is taken for granted, that concept of race is a result of an
arbitrary value system that is imposed on the facts of biological variations among
– Most scientists reject concept of biological race- not useful. Profound shift from previous
scientific perspective: shift has occurred. Race used in Nazi Germany
– UNESCO changed definition of race: all races were statistically made as groups but not
difference race- we are the same species.SOCI 1001 Week 8 lecture notes Essay.
– Two main problems with defining race with physical criteria: (1) respect to physical
criteria, scientists couldn’t justify why certain physical characteristics were enough to
make a race difference but not other, on the level of common sense people use hair, skin
colour to group people. Its arbitrary. (2) issue that physical characteristics (skin colour)
cannot be simply classified, colours are not clear cut. All sorts of variations. People are
unique. Maybe it’s a combination of characteristics- but those efforts also weren’t
reasonable, physical features don’t necessarily go hand in hand with each other.
o THEREFORE: How we identify race is arbitrary and not clear cut.
– Why do we do this? Socialized to do this. When we categorize people this way what we
often are doing- using physical attributes as a reference point and assuming other
personal characteristics assumed (music preferences, speech, religious beliefs) use this to
find cultural distinctions.SOCI 1001 Week 8 lecture notes Essay.
– In the research done, concluded not a correlation between physical appearance and social
behaviours. No such thing as distinct races, racial grouping are a seemingly infinite range
of variations- idea that race could be used to justify unequal treatment of groups
– It is a fact of life in western society that physical diversity are used as a means of
categorizing people into groups and then subjecting groups to different social and
economic treatments. Race does continue to be an obvious and real concept to be used in
everyday lives.SOCI 1001 Week 8 lecture notes Essay.
– Consequences: racism
– Racism: an organized set of beliefs about the perceived innate inferiority of some racial
groups, combined with the power to transform these ideas into practices that deny or
exclude equality of treatment on the basis of race.
– At the root of this, racism is about power and domination
– Involves elements of prejudice and discrimination
– Discrimination- two main types (1) overt: specific acts of discrimination, directed against
specific victims, by specific perpetrators- interpersonal (bullying to violence) usually
illegal, and punishable (2) systematic: in a system, generally no overtly identifiable
perpetrators, instead we are looking at situation when members of minority groups are
systematically excluded from these institutions and positions of power, ways institutions
exclude groups- almost always work against certain groups, often hard to detect.
– Prejudice: involves pre-judging in negative terms, the characteristics that we assume are
shared by members of other social groups.SOCI 1001 Week 8 lecture notes Essay.
– Bogardus “social distance” scale (as a measure of prejudice): looked at how close other
members would get to other members of that groups- judging prejudice- how much
distance do they keep between them. Yes or no series of questions.SOCI 1001 Week 8 lecture notes Essay.
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