Race as a Social Construct

Topics: United States, Race and Ethnicity, Sociology Pages: 3 (881 words) Published: November 29, 2012
Race as a Social Construct

Omi and Winant’s discussion from “Racial Formations” are generally about race being a social construct and is also demonstrated in the viewing of Race - The power of an illusion. Omi and Winant have both agreed that race is socially constructed in society. Ultimately this means that race is seen differently in different societies and different cultures. Media, politics, school, economy and family helps alter society’s structure of race. In the viewing , also media as well as history seemed to create race by showing how social norms have evolved in different racial groups.

For example, “Rules shaped by our perception of race in a comprehensively racial society determine the presentation of self, distinction of status, and appropriate modes of conduct” (Omi and Winant 20). In other words, people tend to make their own rules for categorizing racial groups. We humans (usually more powerful ones) have set these arbitrary divisions and then call them real.

Race is defined differently within each culture. For example, as explained in the viewing, people in Africa see a person that is white in the United States as black. This because they define their races by socioeconomic status not the color of ones skin. Race is a social construction. And as a social construction, race functions as a source of management that sustains the importance of certain groups and the maintenance of other groups. This concept only becomes reality when people behave in ways that perpetuate subordination.

Race should be expressed as a concept but unfortunately people misuse race. Race has now replaced the older concept of culture. As a concept race came to be defined by superficial attributes like hair type and skin color. “Film and television, for example, have been notorious in disseminating images of racial minorities which establish for audiences what people from these groups look like, how they behave and who they are”(Omi and Winant 23).

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