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Racial and Ethnic Group Stratification


conflict theory

theory that society is characterized by conflict between social groups. Groups with unequal power and competing interests compete for scarce resources.


action or behavior that results in the unequal treatment of individuals because of their membership in a certain racial, ethnic, or minority group


identity based on a shared culture


theory that views society as a system of parts working together to maintain a social equilibrium

institutional racism

racism that pervades a society's basic institutions in a systematic manner


framework for examining how factors of social stratification, such as gender, age, race, class, and sexual orientation, are not separate, but intertwined

matrix of domination

social environment in which multiple sources of oppression—based on factors such as race, ethnicity, class, sex, and gender—intersect to affect individuals' lives

minority group

group of people who, because of their physical or cultural characteristics, are singled out from others for differential and unequal treatment

one-drop rule

social and legal principle in the United States that proclaimed that anyone with even one drop of so-called "black blood"—any known African ancestry—was considered black


preconceived, negative, inflexible attitude about a particular group of people


concept based on physical characteristics. There are no biological or genetic definitions of race.

racial stratification

impact that people's race or ethnic group has on their position in the social hierarchy


process of imposing racial distinctions on individuals or groups


ideology or set of beliefs that claims one racial or ethnic group is superior or inferior to another

scientific racism

misuse of science to support racist assumptions

social construction

idea that has been created and accepted by a society

social Darwinism

late-19th century social theory in which Darwinian laws of natural selection are misunderstood and used to support the theory that some individuals or groups possess genetic superiority over others


oversimplified and overgeneralized belief about a group of people

symbolic interactionism

theory of social behavior that emphasizes subjective understanding and interaction of the individual and society