Inequalities of Race and Ethnicity
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Inequalities of Race and Ethnicity


As we begin our discussion on race and ethnicity, we must remember that each one of us has different life experiences, different values, and different viewpoints. Our demographics as a school and community, while positive and constructive, limit our full understanding of what it means to be of a different race—or even of a different ethnicity. Only through sociological imagination will we be able to maximize our study.

Some Basic Terminology

Race: people sharing certain inherited physical characteristics that are considered important within a society




Ethnicity: cultural and national identity, generally based on common ancestry

Children of Asia









  • Minorities: a group of people with physical or cultural traits different from those of the dominant group in the society; the minority…

    • Has distinctive physical or cultural characteristics which can be used to separate it from the majority;

    • Is dominated by the majority;

    • Is often believed by the majority to be inferior;

    • Has a common sense of identity, with strong group loyalty; and

    • Membership is determined through ascribed status.

Melting Pot

Racial and Ethnic Relations

Patterns of Cooperation

Cultural Pluralism


Racial and Ethnic Relations

Patterns of Conflict

Genocide: the systematic effort to destroy an entire population

“Ethnic Cleansing”

…of the Muslim Bosnians by the Christian Serbs.

…of the minority Hutu tribe by the majority Tutsi in Rwanda.

Theories of Prejudice and Discrimination

Prejudice: widely held negative attitudes toward a group and its individual members


How you feel about someone

Racism: an extreme form of prejudice that assumes superiority of one group over another


What you believe about someone

Discrimination: treating people differently based on ethnicity, race, religion, or culture


How you treat someone

Theories of Prejudice and Discrimination, cont’d

  • Hate Crime: a criminal act motivated by prejudice

  • Stereotypes: a distorted, exaggerated, or oversimplified image applied to a category of people

  • Institutional Discrimination: unfair practices that grow out of common behaviors and attitudes and that are a part of the structure of society

    • De jure segregation: denial of equal access based on the law

    • De facto segregation: denial of equal access based on everyday practice

Perspectives on Prejudice

Picture Credits

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