Theoretical Perspectives of Race and Ethnicity

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Theoretical Perspectives of Race and Ethnicity
Rebecca Spain
April 4th, 2010
Melissa Terrell

The three sociological theoretical perspectives of race and ethnicity are the functionalist, conflict, and labeling perspectives. The functionalist perspective is the perspective that shows how parts of society work in a structured manner to keep the survival of a society. The belief is that if a certain part does not contribute to society’s survival in an effective manner that it will not move form one generation to the next. (Schaefer, 2006). The conflict perspective is the perspective that society thrives on the conflict and struggles between social groups that compete against one another. The struggles and disputes mainly pertain to the dominant groups against the subordinate groups. (Schaefer, 2006). The final perspective is the labeling perspective which is the perspective that shows why one person’s accountability can be different from another person even though they are engaging in the same behaviors. (Schaefer, 2006). The three perspectives are all quite different in their theories. The labeling perspective stereotypes a group by gender, religion, race, or ethnic group instead of the actual behavior that takes place. For instance two people commit the same crime but one is wealthy and white and the other is poor and African American. The wealthy white person is to be given another chance based on their status and the dominant group that they belong to. The African American should be punished based on their status and the subordinate group they belong to. The conflict perspective is way more extreme than the functionalist and labeling perspectives. In the conflict perspective the dominant and subordinate groups are in a constant battle for power. The dominant group ignores and exploits the minority groups and continually will be able to get away with doing so because of the status of the dominant group versus the status of the...