Race and Ethnicity¶
Central to the sociology is the understanding that race and ethnicity are socially constructed categories. While each is based on traits we may see as biological, such as skin color or facial features, the meanings attached to race and ethnicity are created, maintained, and modified over time through social processes in which we all take part. When a society categorizes people based on their race and ethnicity (and all do), it creates a system of stratification that leads to inequality. Society’s resources—wealth, power, privilege, opportunity—are distributed according to these categories, thereby perpetuating inequalities that are all too familiar here in the United States. In this lesson, you will also come to understand the importance of race and ethnicity in forming individual identity. Our racial and ethnic identities have profound effects on our sense of self, and our bonds to other people may be based on shared identities—or may transcend those categories entirely.
By the end of this lesson, you will be able to:
Understand central concepts in the sociology of race and ethnicity and how major sociological perspectives view race and ethnicity.
Describe the impact of racism on life chances.
Discuss (Thursday during class):¶
symbolic & situational ethnicity
individual and institutional discrimination
Critical race theory
Race, Ethnicity, and Life
racial and cultural assimilation
The least you need to know¶
Theoretical perspectives on race