Sociology – 150: Final Study Guide (Chapters 9,10,11,12, 15 and notes)
Racial and Ethnic Inequality
Race and ethnicity are ascribed characteristics that define categories of people.
- Used in various times and places as bases of stratification.
-Both handed down from parents
- In actuality, racial differences among humans account for only a tiny fraction of all genes.
The social construction of race and ethnicity: the process through which a culture (based more on
social ideas than on biological facts
) defines what constitutes a race or an ethnic group.
-Both individual self-identity and institutional forces play a role in the creation and
maintenance of racial and ethnic statuses. (such as the “white” race, instead of Anglo-Saxon)
-the shift from “black” to “African-American” is an example of changing from a racial to an
ethnic group identification.
-racial and ethnic statuses are not fixed
- Individuals may change their racial and ethnic identification and society may change the
statuses it recognizes and uses.
Contemporary scholars use a type of conflict theory to explain how racial and ethnic inequalities
are developed and maintained.
-suggests that conflict over scarce resources, historical circumstances such as access to
technology and slavery gave some groups advantages while holding other groups back.
- To maintain power, those with advantages work to keep others from getting access to
-Inherited advantages left us w/ two stratification systems, class and caste-like system,
based on race.
-Two systems combine together to form a semi-caste system.
(There is a table in the book, the races (white and nonwhite) display very similar patterns of
In all three populations (lower, middle and upper), the wealthiest 20% of
families receive almost half of all income, but the median income of white families is more than
one and one-half times that of Hispanic and African-American families.
Also, racial differences in
– all assets owned by a household – are even greater that income differences.
the median net worth of non-Hispanic families was $79,400, compared to a net worth of $7,500
for African American families and $9,750 for Hispanic families.
These racial differences in
wealth, not racial differences in income, are primarily responsible for the continuing U.S. racial
Sociological theories of race and ethnic relationships usually refer to majority and minority
-Minority groups are often smaller than majority group, but not always the case.
-Relations between majority and minority groups may take one of the four general forms:
conflict, accommodation, acculturation or assimilation.
It may attempt to neutralize, injure or destroy one’s rivals.
Some intergroup conflicts
are expressed in violence (ex. genocide).
Conflict may also be expressed in laws forbidding
social, political or economic participation by the minority group.