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Chapter 3 Racial and Ethnic Inequality Race and Ethnicity Race: a socially constructed category of people who share biologically transmitted traits that a society defines as important

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Chapter 3 racial and ethnic inequality l.jpg
Chapter 3Racial and Ethnic Inequality

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Race and Ethnicity

  • Race:

    • a socially constructed category of people who share biologically transmitted traits that a society defines as important

    • Sociologists view racial categories at best as crude and misleading and at worst as a harmful way to divide humanity

  • Ethnicity refers to a shared cultural heritage

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Race and Ethnicity

  • While race and ethnicity are different, the two may go together when groups share not only certain physical traits but ethnic traits as well

    • examples: Korean Americans and Native Americans

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Race and Ethnicity

  • The racial and ethnic diversity in the United States is a product of immigration

    • The “Great Immigration” extended from the end of the Civil War (1865) until the outbreak of World War I (1914)

      • “Nativists” opposed immigration as they feared that immigrants might overwhelm neighborhoods and schools and threaten the country’s mostly English culture

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Recent Immigration

  • The next great immigration began in 1965 when Congress ended the quota system.

    • Immigrants came mainly from Mexico and other Latin American nations, as well as the Philippines, South Korea, and other Asian nations

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  • Minority: any category of people, distinguished by physical or cultural traits, that a society subjects to disadvantages

  • Characteristics:

    • They share a distinctive identity

    • They tend to be disadvantaged

    • About one-fourth of the people in the U.S. fall into a minority racial or ethnic category

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Patterns of Minority – Majority Interaction

  • Pluralism – a state in which people of all racial and ethnic categories have roughly equal social standing

  • Assimilation – the process by which minorities gradually adopt the cultural patterns of the majority population

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Patterns of Minority – Majority Interaction

  • Segregation – is the physical and social separation of categories of people

  • Genocide – the systematic killing of one category of people by another

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Native Americans

  • Conflict has marked the relationship between Native Americans and explorers/colonizers since the late fifteenth century

    • At first the U.S. government saw Native peoples as independent nations and tried to gain land from them through treaties

    • It soon used military power against those unwilling to bargain

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Native Americans

  • In 1871, the U.S. declared Native Americans wards of the federal government, granting them various forms of “assistance”

    • These attempts to encourage assimilation resulted in many Native Americans becoming dependent on the government’s Bureau of Indian Affairs

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Native Americans

  • Native Americans gained full citizenship in 1924.

  • During the 1990s, Native American organizations reported gains in new membership applications

  • One-fifth of all legal gambling in the country takes place in casinos on reservations

  • Most Native Americans continue to struggle and share a profound sense of injustice endured at the hands of whites

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People of African Descent

  • People of African ancestry arrived in the Americas along with the early European explorers

  • While slave traders brought 500,000 Africans to the U.S. as slaves, not all people of African descent were slaves

  • The Civil War brought slavery to an end

  • “Jim Crow” laws barred black people from voting, sitting on juries, and institutionalized segregation policies

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People of African Descent

  • By the early 1950s, opposition to segregation was building

    • the landmark Supreme Court decision in the 1954 case, Brown v. the Board of Education, eliminated “separate but equal” schooling

    • Rosa Parks sparked the bus boycott that desegregated public transportation in Montgomery, Alabama

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People of African Descent

  • In the 1960s the federal government

    • passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964

    • passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965

    • passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968.

  • Together, these laws brought an end to most legal discrimination in public life

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People of African Descent

  • Today, the struggle isn’t over

    • below-average incomes

    • rate of poverty is twice the national average

    • college completion rate is well below the national average

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People of Asian Descent

  • Asian Americans include people with historical ties to dozens of Asian nations.

    • The largest number have roots in China, the Philippines, India, South Korea, and Japan

    • The first Asians to migrate to North America in the modern era came from China and Japan because of the Gold Rush of 1849

    • Once the demand for cheap labor lessened, whites pressured legislatures and courts to bar Asians from certain work

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People of Asian Descent

  • World War II brought important change to Japanese and Chinese Americans

    • President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 forcibly relocated all Japanese Americans to internment camps where they stayed until 1944

  • Chinese Americans fared better

    • In 1943, the federal government ended the 1882 ban on Chinese immigration and extended citizenship to Chinese Americans born abroad

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People of Asian Descent

  • Many Asian Americans prospered as the postwar economy grew

  • By the 1980s, Asian Americans were called the “model minority” based on their cultural commitment to study and hard work and their outstanding record of achievement

  • Many Asian Americans have assimilated into the larger cultural mix

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Hispanic People

  • Hispanics came to the United States from Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Spain

  • Since few think of themselves as “Hispanics” or “Latinos”, there is no single Latino culture

  • A high birth rate and heavy immigration have resulted in Hispanics surpassing African Americans as the nation’s largest racial or ethnic minority

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Hispanic People

  • While the social standing of Hispanics is below the U.S. average, various categories of Latinos have very different rankings

    • The most well off are Cuban Americans, who have greater education and enjoy higher incomes

    • Puerto Ricans have the lowest relative ranking - median family income is barely half the national average

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  • Prejudice is any rigid and irrational generalization about an entire category of people

  • Stereotypes -exaggerated descriptions that are applied to everyone in the same category - greatly contribute to the perpetuation of prejudice

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  • The most serious kind of prejudice is racism -the assertion that people of one race are innately superior or inferior to others

    • In today’s society, racism is less blatant than it once was

    • subtle forms of racism are still very much part of our national life

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  • Three causes of prejudice

    • personality factors

    • societal factors

    • multiculturalism

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  • While prejudice is an attitude, discrimination is a matter of actions

    • Discrimination can be positive or negative

    • Institutional discrimination is built into the operation of social institutions, including the economy, schools, and the legal system

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  • Because prejudice and discrimination reinforce each other, societies can subject minorities to a vicious cycle of subordination

  • One strategy designed to break the vicious cycle of prejudice and discrimination is affirmative action

    • creates policies intended to improve the social standings of minorities subject to historical prejudice and discrimination

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Structural-Functional Analysis: The Importance of Culture

  • The Culture of Poverty

  • Values and Disadvantage

  • Critics contend that this perspective focuses on the result, not the cause, of low social standing

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Symbolic-Interaction Analysis: The Personal Significance of Race

  • When race becomes a master status, it becomes a personal trait that overwhelms all others and defines any person of color

  • Critics contend that race involves more than individual behavior

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Social-Conflict Analysis: The Structure of Society Race

  • The Importance of Class

  • Multiculturalism

  • Critics contend that social-conflict theory:

    • understates what people in the U.S. have in common

    • takes away people’s responsibility for their own lives

    • tends to minimize the significant strides that have been made in dealing with social diversity

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Conservatives: Culture and Effort Matter Race

  • Conservatives claim that differences in culture set some parts of the population apart from others

    • People in various racial and ethnic categories have different values and priorities

    • A free society must be an unequal society

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Liberals: Society and Government Matter Race

  • Liberals contend that cultural differences are not the main reason for inequality

    • they view racial and ethnic inequality as resulting mostly from prejudice and discrimination built into society’s institutions

    • they urge people to avoid thinking that minorities are themselves the “social problem”

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Radicals: Basic Changes Are Needed Race

  • Radicals suggest two ways to solve the problem of racial and ethnic inequality:

    • overhaul the whole capitalist economic system

    • eliminate the concept of race because it provides an ideological basis for dividing people