“Intro: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration” by Blair-Loy
Race is a cultural structure that is institutionalized into the social structures of immigration
policies, house segregation, educational systems, and job opportunities.
Although race is a cultural
structure, it is socially defined.
Definitions and restrictions on race are different in various social
groups and communities.
Race and ethnicity is asserted and ascribed. Assertion is when one person embraces an identity,
and ascription is what others assign one to be (Blair-Loy 151).
Cultural structures shape the
influence of social class on their educational experiences.
For some minorities, however, education
doesn’t allow for much more mobility if they are from low-income families (152).
“ A Constructionist Approach” by Cornell and Hartmann
Race is defined as “a human group defined by itself or others as a distinct by virtue of
perceived common physical characteristics that are held to be inherent” (lecture). In another words, it
is how a group is perceived. Race is not an inevitable categorization. Instead, it is a social construction
and changes indefinitely. It embodies a process in which others identify others. Race is invented but
has real effects on our lives (discussion). P. 153
Ethnicity is different from race in that it is a “collectivity within a larger society having real or
putative common ancestry, memories of a shared historical past, and a cultural focus on one or more
symbolic elements defined as the epitome of their peoplehood” (lecture). Ethnicity is real or assumed
shared ancestry with others, and it is based on one’s region, religion, or community. It also relates to
how one identifies himself. P. 154
Cornell and Hartmann argue that race and ethnicity are the social products of ascription
and assignment, and assertion.
Ascription is what others claim we are, and assertion is what we
claim to be. Both are reciprocal processes and change over time (lecture). P. 158
Ethnic communities participate in their own construction and reproduction of their race in
several ways. They establish organizations, promote research into their ethnic history/culture, retell
historical stories in celebration of their ethnic group, practice cultural traditions, etc (Cornell,
Hartmann 159). Asserted and ascribed identities can be either thick or thin. Thick identities
comprehensively organize one’s social life, while thin identities minimally organizes social life (162).
The constructionist approach to race and ethnicity sees it as a changing and diverse process. An
established ethnic/racial identitiy becomes a lens through which people interpret and see the world
around them (172). The idea of hidden identities is brought up in the reading as well. Hidden identities
involve the privilege to be a part of the dominant group. For example, in America, white is the
dominant race (therefore, the hidden ethnicity… people don’t segregate them, they use them as a