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Race, Ethnicity, Nation. Status & Social Difference. status - ascribed & achieved ascribed status - social positions that people hold by virtue of birth sex, age, family relationships, birth into class or caste achieved status - social positions attained as a result of individual action

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status social difference
Status & Social Difference
  • status - ascribed & achieved
  • ascribed status - social positions that people hold by virtue of birth
    • sex, age, family relationships, birth into class or caste
  • achieved status - social positions attained as a result of individual action
  • shift from homogeneous kin based societies (mechanic) to heterogeneous societies of associations (organic) involves growth in importance of achieved
social stratification
Social Stratification
  • inequality in society
  • the unequal distribution of goods and services, rights and obligations, power and prestige
  • all attributes of positions in society, not attributes of individuals
  • Stratified society is:
    • when a society exhibits stratification it means that there are significant breaks in the distribution of goods services, rights obligations power prestige
  • as a result of which are formed collectivities or groups we call strata
3 types of societies
  • egalitarian societies - no social groups having greater access to economic resources, power, or prestige - usually foragers
  • rank societies - do not have unequal access to economic resources or to power, but they do contain social groups having unequal access to prestige
  • class societies - unequal access to all 3 advantages, economic resources, power, prestige
    • open & closed class systems - the extent to which mobility occurs allowing people to pass through inequalities
  • There are no biological human races
  • up until 14th cent. in Europe cultural & social evolution based on the idea of progress from kin-based societies to civil society through governance & law
  • after 16th cent. in Europe ideas of blood were used to characterize difference
race and social difference
race and social difference
  • Race as social grouping based on perceived physical differences and cloaked in the language of biology
  • social races – groups assumed to have a biological basis but social constructed
  • Racism – systematic social and political bias based on idea of race
    • Operates as a form of class
social races
Social races
  • Race exists as a cultural construct
  • Racism builds upon idea that personality is linked with hereditary characteristics which differ between races
  • Race is important for academics studying local discourses on ethnicity
  • Race relations as a special case of ethnicity
  • Race as the categorization of people
  • Operates as an ASCRIBED status of personhood
american anthropological assoc statement on race
American Anthropological Assoc. statement on race
  • “Evidence from the analysis of genetics (e.g., DNA) indicates that most physical variation, about 94%, lies within so-called racial groups.
  • Conventional geographic ‘racial’ groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes….
  • ‘Race’ thus evolved as a world view, a body of prejudgments that distorts our ideas about human differences and group behavior….
  • The ‘racial’ world view was invented to assign some groups to perpetual low status, while others were permitted access to privilege, power, and wealth”
from race to ethnicity
from race to ethnicity
  • ethnicity forged in the process of historical time
  • subject to shifts in meaning
    • shifts in referents or markers of ethnic identity
  • subject to political manipulations
  • ethnic identity is not a function of primordial ties, although it may be described as such
  • always the genesis of specific historical forces that are simultaneously structural & cultural
building blocks of ethnicity ethnic identity
building blocks of ethnicity/ethnic identity
  • associated with distinctions between language, religion, historical experience, geographic isolation, kinship, notions of race (phenotype)
  • may include collective name, belief in common descent, sense of solidarity, association with a specific territory, clothing, house types, personal adornment, food, technology, economic activities, general lifestyle
cultural markers of difference must be visible to members and non members
cultural markers of difference must be visible to members and non-members
  • valued markers of difference by insiders may become comic or derided by outsiders
  • caricature and exaggeration frequently mark outsider depictions of boundary mechanisms
    • stereotype is one form
ethnicity and boundaries
ethnicity and boundaries
  • where there is a group there is some sort of boundary
  • where there are boundaries there are mechanisms for maintaining boundaries
  • cultural markers of difference that must be visible to members and non-members
  • fluidity of ethnic identity
  • ethnic groups vanish, people move between ethnic groups, new ethnic groups come into existence
  • ethnogenesis
    • emergence of new ethnic group, part of existing group splits & forms new ethnic group, members of two or more groups fuse
political organization and ethnicity
political organization and ethnicity
  • ethnicity is founded upon structural inequities among dissimilar groups into a single political entity
  • SUBJECTIVE belief in their common descent because of similarities of physical type or of customs or of both, or because of memories of colonization and migration
  • Belief in group affinity can have important consequences for the formation of a political factions
the state
The state
  • A form of rule
  • A political institution with administrative units responsible for the maintenance of law and order
  • Controlling defined territories
  • An instrument of power – power-political unit
  • Sovereignty as topmost priority
the nation
The nation
  • communities of people who see themselves as “one people” on the basis of common ancestry, history, society, institutions, ideology, language, territory, and (often) religion
  • the nation as a status group united by common historical memory
  • ethnic groups and nations as sociological categories and nationalism as a form of politics practised by powerful nation-states
nation as imagined community
nation as “imagined community”
  • "it is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion“
    • Benedict Anderson (1983),Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. 
imagined community
imagined community
  • A community that “imagines” itself
    • No possibility of face-to-face communication
    • Moments of simultaneity
    • Monuments and memorials
  • Anthropology questions this reality while recognizing the power of the idea
    • Differences are marked and suppressed in modern nation-states
    • A form of amnesia?
the nation21
The Nation
  • based upon sentiments of prestige which extend deep into the masses of political structures (located in the field of politics)
  • Those groups who hold the power to steer common conduct within a polity will most strongly instill themselves with this ideal fervor of power prestige
  • Those who think of themselves as being specific partners of a specific culture diffused among members of the polity
181 states but 5000 nations
181 states but 5000 nations?
  • The coincidence of nation and state is rare
  • Modern nation-state responsible for the rise and definition of social entities called nations
  • But also the rise of ethnic groups within
  • within borders of nation-state tremendous social and cultural diversity
assimilation melting pot
Assimilation: “Melting Pot”
  • melting-pot model of American identity, prevalent at the beginning of the 20th century, immigrants were encouraged to completely discard the cultural heritage they brought with them.
  • all ethnic groups acculturate to a universalistic set of values and symbols with no ancestral connotations
  • there is two-way influence between ethnic groups in the society such that no ancestral group achieves symbolic dominance.
mosaic model
Mosaic Model
  • the mosaic model, people of different backgrounds can fit together without losing their original identity
  • 'vertical mosaic' of distinct classes and ethnic groups
  • "vertical" implies that these ethnic and racial groups are arranged into a hierarchy
    • A similar term would be ethnic stratification.
plural societies pluri ethnic societies
plural societies: pluri-ethnic societies
  • society in which ethnic distinctions persist in spite of generations of interethnic contact
  • many contemporary plural societies the result of colonialism
  • economic niche & plural society
multiculturalism and ethnicity
Multiculturalism and Ethnicity
  • Pluralist model treats groups as permanent and enduring
    • Group rights
  • Cosmopolitan model that accepts shifting boundaries, multiple affiliations, hybrid identities
    • Individual rights
  • Accommodation of immigrant ethnicity
  • Minority nationalism – nations within (indigenous peoples and Québécois)
    • Stateless nations, ethnic nationalism vs. indigenous groups
  • Nations within – groups that formed complete and functioning societies on their historic homeland before being incorporated into a larger state
      • involuntary – colonization, conquest, etc.
ethnicity and class
Ethnicity and class
  • May be a high correlation between ethnicity and class
  • Many poly-ethnic societies are ranked according to ethnic membership
ethnic conflict cleansing
Ethnic Conflict & cleansing
  • Assimilation
  • Apartheid
  • Diaspora
  • Ethnocide
  • Genocide
indigenous peoples and states
Indigenous peoples and states
  • There is a common trend to codify and strengthen the rights of national minorities – two parallel developments
  • Indigenous groups around the world
    • Drive for recognition of rights
    • Sovereignty and self-governance
  • Nations within – groups that formed complete and functioning societies on their historic homeland before being incorporated into a larger state