Stratification by Race and Ethnicity
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Racial distinctions refer
to physical differences that can be used to separate one group of people from
Ethnic distinctions refer to national or cultural differences between groups. These are not as readily observed.
Basically, the main point is that a minority group lacks power in society which makes it vulnerable to the action of a dominant group. (It does not have to be the numerical minority).
Characteristics of minority groups
Dominant group needs criteria in
order to distinguish themselves from minority. These may be physical
differences that tend to distinguish humans--skin color, hair texture, eye
shape. Social and cultural characteristics that are easily observed--
(Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels-- people who crack their eggs on the small
end versus the big end).
Manning Nash's three functions
that racially prejudiced beliefs have for dominant group:
This ties in with stratification, poverty and wealth. Remember the functions of poverty proposed by Herbert Gans?
Conflict theories emphasize the role of power in racism and ethnism:
(POWER DIFFERENTIAL [LIEBERSON]
--Important here is the relative power of the dominant and minority groups. In
many former colonies, the dominant power succeeded at first in controlling the
"minority" of original inhabitants. However, as time progressed and a
class consciousness developed among the subordinate groups, they were able to
use their vast numerical advantage to overthrow the colonizing power. If the
indigenous (resident) group is more powerful, then the colonizing power will be
forced to assimilate, give in, or depart. (British colonialism in
INTERNAL COLONIALISM THEORY [ROBERT BLAUNER] (Our text refers to this as "exploitation theory")-- In North American society, dominant group's treatment of its own Black (Hispanic, Native American) citizens was comparable to European Colonial Powers in their treatment of people in the lands they occupied.
Take, for example black and asian ghettos. They are longer
lasting than the white ethnic ghettos. Asian ghettos were able to take over
their economic and political control. Some argue that black ghettos were not
able to do this largely because their traditional ethnic culture was destroyed
by slavery. [Others have argued that white discrimination has been directed
more heavily against blacks in the areas of financial loans, for example, which
hinders black enterprise in the ghetto.]
SPLIT LABOR MARKET THEORY
[EDNA BONACICH] Much of ethnic antagonism is NOT
based on ethnicity and race, but rather on the conflict between higher-paid and
lower-paid labor. What happens is that dominant group employers exploit
minorities and several minorities may compete for scarce jobs. The conflict
results over these pay differentials. Ethnic groups will attempt to restrict
other groups from entering the country (especially Asians and Blacks) if they
perceive them to be a threat to their own economic security. According to
Bonacich, the one characteristic shared by all
societies high in ethnic antagonism is that they have an indigenous working
class that earns higher wages than immigrant workers. Bonacich
has been criticized because her theory overlooks racial discrimination. (Based upon racial and ethnic hatred-- not upon economics).
Interactionist Theories are also valuable in understanding Racism and Ethnism.
We discussed labelling theory in the section on deviance-- it also
applies in minority studies. The dominant group applies labels to a
minority-- lazy, dishonest, unwilling to work, intellectually inferior,
etc. If the minority group internalizes these attitudes and comes to believe
the ideas of the dominant group, it will behave as expected and not challenge
the dominant group-- i.e. THE SELF-FULFILLING PROPHESY. This has also
been referred to as the "
Our text also mentions the CONTACT HYPOTHESIS as an example of the interactionist approach. People from different racial backgrounds of "equal status" interacting in a "pleasant, noncompetitive atmosphere" may abandon their stereotypes and become less prejudiced.
PREJUDICE-- preconceived notion (not derived from rigorous and impartial study of a subject).. an attitude.
Prejudice + ACTION = discrimination.
Discrimination + POWER = racism; ethnism; sexism; etc.
Assimilation: This was considered the "model" for American society before the 1960's.
Amalgamation: This is a
total blending of races and cultures-- (
Pluralism: This is the
"official" model of
The Color "Line" vs. the Color "Gradient":
In North American society, there
is a color line-- "either or" (You are either black or white, etc.)
This is an example taken from
1930. "Chapter 85. Every
person in whom there is ascertainable any Negro blood shall be deemed a colored
person, and every person not a colored person having one-fourth or more
American Indian blood shall be deemed an American Indian; except that members
of Indian tribes living on reservations allotted them by Virginia, having one-fourth
or more of Indian blood and less than one-sixteenth of Negro blood shall be
deemed tribal Indians so long as they are domiciled on reservations."
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The effects of racial and ethnic
discrimination are reflected in
Hispanics are this country's
most rapidly growing minority and will comprise nearly a quarter of the
population by 2050.
Black Americans and Asian Americans will comprise 15 and 8 percent of the population (respectively) by the middle of the next century http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/usinterimproj/natprojtab01a.xls. By the year 2100, if current trends continue; 40% of the
As a result, American will become an increasingly pluralistic society in the 21st century. (However, it has always been highly pluralistic, especially at the beginning of this century where it experienced the greatest influx of immigrants in its history (a trend exceed only at the end of the 20th century). For example, in the early 1900s, many of this country's largest cities--