Vocabulary List # 3 • Race: a group of people who share common physical/ biological characteristics which include shared cultural traits • Synonym: Nation • Ethnicity:a group of people having a common language, culture, and body of traditions that are learned not inherited • Synonym: Identity • Minority: a smaller party or group opposed to a majority – racially, politically, economically • Synonym: smaller number
Notebook Check # 2 – Entry # 1 – Race and Ethnicity March 10, 2014
Race: Biology or Society? • Biologically speaking, an arbitrary classification assigned on the basis of genetic characteristics. • From a sociological perspective, however, race is socially constructed. • Its meaning in society is a cultural process. • Race is treated as distinct in society based on certain characteristics. • Due to a biological or cultural characteristics, which are labeled as inferior by powerful groups in society, a race is often singled out for differential and unfair treatment.
Society assigns people to racial categories (White, Black, etc.) not because of science or fact, but because of opinion and social experience. • Racial differences become important because people believe them to be.
Ethnicity • While racial classification is based exclusively on visible physical qualities, ethnicity emphasizes common territory and origins. • It is based on the notion that these supposedly “indefinable” social factors define an unwavering solidarity that makes an ordinary group into a “people.”
Ethnic groups must pass cultural beliefs and practices from generation to generation. • Ethnic identity can cross racial or national boundaries. • Ethnicity is based on cultural traits, while race is based on physical traits.
Race and ethnicity are complicated • Is the child of a biracial couple (black and white) black or white? Mixed? • Is Judaism a religion or an ethnicity? Both? • Race and ethnicity are terms used every day but rarely explored. 7
Minority Groups Although no particular physical feature or ethnic background is superior or inferior to any other, many sociologists recognize that people may place an arbitrary value on specific characteristics. • MinorityGroup • A minority group is a group of people who—because of their physical characteristics or cultural practices—are singled out and treated unequally. • In this sense, the term minority has nothing to do with group size, but with the unequal standing in society in relation to a dominant group. • Dominant Group • The dominant group is the group that possesses the ability to discriminate by virtue of its greater power, privilege, and social status in a society. • The dominant group in American society is white people with northern European ancestry.