lec030810 - Sociology 101 Introduction to Sociology...

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Sociology 101 Introduction to Sociology Professor Deborah Carr Monday March 8, 2010 I. What is race? A. Definitions of key concepts 1. Race is a group treated as distinct on the basis of certain characteristics, some biological, that have been assigned social importance in that society. Race is socially constructed . Although it is sometimes thought to be a fixed and immutable biological characteristic that can be easily used to separate people into distinct groups, in reality…. a. there is no universal definition of race. Societies differ in how they construct and categorize races, and these constructions carry important messages about cultural values in a society. For example: i. In 1930s and 40s Germany, Hitler defined Judaism as a race. iii. At the turn of the century in the U.S., the Irish were sometime referred to as a “race” 2. Racial or ethnic identity. One’s self-identified racial or ethnic background. Some very interesting research shows that even how we identify ourselves varies over context. a. Sociologist David Harris showed that the ways that mixed-race person identify their ethnicity varies across social contexts. Mixed-race teens reported different identities when asked at school versus at home. b. Research by sociologists Richard Alba shows that the proportion of Americans who report having Irish ancestry is higher in March than other times of the year, due to the pride inspired by St. Patrick’s Day! c. Research by demographer Karl Eschbach shows that the proportion of Americans reporting Native American/American Indian race increased very sharply between 1960 and 1980, although this increase could not be explained by high birth rates or in-migration. He attributed it to people self-identifying as native American due to the pride inspired by the pan-Indian movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. 3. Ethnicity. A sense of community derived from one’s shared cultural
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lec030810 - Sociology 101 Introduction to Sociology...

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