Race & Ethnicity in Our Society

Topics: Race and Ethnicity, United States, Sociology Pages: 7 (2537 words) Published: May 9, 2012
Race and ethnicity are important concepts and plays a great deal among our society. Very few of us are aware of the difference between race and ethnicity. Many of us assumed that is the same definition. In Sociology this terms have a very specific and different meaning. Race: Is your biological features this can include your skin color, eye and hair color, as well as a tendency toward developing certain diseases. Race can’t be changed or disguised. Race does not have customs or globally learned behaviors. In other words race refers to only your genetic history and identifiable physical characteristics that are separate and distinct from other races. For example Hispanics are always generalized as Puerto Rican. Skin color does not necessarily connect to your cultural background. Ethnicity: Is a concept referring to a shared culture and way of life. This can be reflected in language, religion, material culture such as clothing and food and cultural products such as art and music. Ethnicity is often a major source of social cohesion and social conflict. Ethnicity is not just a person’s race. For example the term Caucasian means white, but this term doesn’t describe a person’s ethnicity. We can have three white people from different parts of the world like Canada, Ireland, and England. Just by looking at them we can’t determine from what part of the world they are from. But, if we give them appropriate items from their culture, like religion, language, food preparation and preferences, then is easy to determine their origin. Ethnicity is about tradition, behaviors and customs. We can change our ethnicity but not our race. Ethnic groups have a consciousness of their common cultural bond. Ethnic groups doesn’t exist simply because of the common national or cultural origin of the group, they develop because of their unique historical and social experiences, which became the basis for the group’s ethnic identity. For example prior to immigration to the United States, any group of immigrants did not think of themselves as a distinct group with common interest and experiences. However, the process of immigration and the experiences they faced as a group in the United States, including discrimination, created a new identity for the group. Some examples of ethnic groups include Italian Americans, Polish Americans, Mexican Americans, and Irish Americans. Other ethnic groups are found in other societies such as in Afghanistan and Iraq, whose ethnicity is base on religious differences. Like ethnicity, race is a socially constructed category. A race is a group that is treated as distinct in society based on certain characteristics. Because of their biological or cultural characteristics, which are labeled as inferior by powerful groups in society, a race is often singled out for differential and unfair treatment. It is not the biological characteristics that define racial groups, but how they have been treated historically and socially. Society assigns people to racial categories such as blacks, whites, Hispanics etc. not because of science, logic or fact, but, because of opinion and social experience. Hispanics and blacks are perceived as minority group who share common characteristics like low status in society, there is more poverty among them, and low education standards. A minority group is any distinct group in society that shares common characteristics and is forced to occupy low status in society because of prejudice and discrimination. A group may be classified as minority on the basis of ethnicity, race, sexual preference, age, or class status. It is important to note that a minority group is not necessarily the minority in terms of numbers, but it is a group that holds a low status in relation to other groups in society. (Regardless of the size). The group that assigns a racial or ethnic group to subordinate status in society is called The Dominant group. One of the problems that have an impact on race and ethnicity...
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