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Race and Ethnicity: Defining the Terms
From biological viewpoint, race indicates the difference in physical appearance, particularly in color of skins, hair, nasal forms, etc (Healey, 2009, p, 19). From social and cultural viewpoint, race and ethnicity are considered in cultural and ideological dimensions. In particular, these two notions serve as the basic for constructing stereotypes and prejudices result in ethnic and social conflicts between the identified groups.
Within social and cultural concepts, race and ethnicity can also be conceived as measure of social and economical advantage (Spencer, 2006, p. 34).
Race and Ethnicity: Concepts, Theories, and Approaches
Race and ethnicity can be perceived through the concept of naming and categorization (Spencer, 2006, p. 33). Analysis of racial and ethnical conflicts should be carried out via the consideration of social, political, economical, and historical aspects. Finally, ethnicity, race, and gender are also presented through the prism of cultural identity.
According to Spencer (2006), “race and ethnicity do not have fixed referents, but rather belong to the domain of shifting social and cultural meanings in which boundaries are constantly negotiated…” (p. 32). In this respect, the concept of categorization has existed since the colonial times. Currently, classification and naming are seen in social construction and social classes.
Race, Ethnicity and Gender: Historic Perspective
Racial and ethnical issues are closely associated with the establishment of historical relations between the whites and the blacks in the American society. These relations are based on the principles of inferiority and laziness (Healey, 2009, p. 99). History of racial and ethnical group is also conceived through the concept of minority and dominating culture.
The examination of historical relations between races is closely connected with colonial past that have created the legal, political, and economic ground for constructing attitudes to the minority groups (Spencer, 2006, p, p. 55). In this regard, many comparisons and analyses are made on this basis of racial and ethnical concerns that influence modern attitudes and position in the U.S. society. Many problems are connected with processes as immigration and assimilation that have had a great influence on the identity construction.
The American history is also marked by the period of slavery and exploitation that have forms the present attitude toward African-Americans (Healey, 2009, p. 99). In this respect, previously established relation are echoed in modern society, particular in the way people treat minority groups.
- Healey, J. F. (2009). Diversity and Ethnicity: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender. CA: Pine Forge Press.
- Spencer, S. (2006). Race and Ethnicity: Culture, Identity and Ethnicity. NY: Routledge.