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Racial Affiliation as a Social Construct Essay

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Updated: Jun 27th, 2021

Racial categorization has been a topic for continuous discussion since the first US Census modifications back in the 19th century. Various historians and sociologists voice their concerns about the overall racial affiliation impact on the American social system and dispute its relevance as a category. An impressive number of sociologists try to estimate an exhaustive and globally acceptable list of racial categories. However, with centuries of racial mixing all over the world, is the notion of pure race differentiation even relevant in the new global community? Paul R. Spickard, an American historian, tries to answer this question in the essay The Illogic of American Racial Categories. Its main objective is to move beyond the extreme racial paradigm and focus on the mixed-raced residents and their recognition in society.

The notion of race, both biologically and characteristically, has been mostly regarded as one of the main principles of social order. However, order as a concept implies a precise structure of the categories. People of mixed races who cannot self-identify their affiliation are then obliged to choose the category they fit the best so that the aforementioned order is not violated. For this reason, Paul Spickard claims that while the racial aspect is connected with biology and genetics, in particular, it is now more crucial in terms of sociopolitical relations. As every nation on the governmental level tries to make its residents fall into distinct types, the racial categorization is quite subjective.

The main argument of the essay states that racial categorization as a means of dividing the world community into separate parts and maintaining their boundaries is no longer relevant. If centuries ago, people could not interact with the representatives of a different race due to social constraints, nowadays, people are free to connect with others regardless of their racial or ethnic identity. For that reason, society nowadays is full of representatives of mixed cultures and races, who do not understand the category they should fall in.

Such a concern is of great importance for people as Spickard emphasizes the fact that if people do not self-identify themselves as the representatives of a particular race, they are automatically regarded as outsiders. Thus, a person’s cultural affiliation is a direct reflection of his or her position in society.

The essay components are quite logically organized in terms of the classic essay structure. At first, the author provides the general idea of what is going to be discussed in the essay, along with the thesis statement. After that, there is a brief explanation of the relation between race and history and how it affects the current social system in the world. These paragraphs lead the author to the description of negative aspects of racial categorization and multiculturalism denial.

The next part is already an explanation of why the element of race is of primary importance for people and why a person’s identity should be embraced and recognized by others. All the arguments are supported by the summaries of respective legal documents. After presenting to the recipients all the key arguments, the author comes to a well-considered conclusion about the importance of multiculturalism acceptance on both personal and social levels.

The relevance of the aforementioned essay is indisputable in terms of the current American tolerance policy. The residents of the US are now concerned about the ways of establishing the social order, which would embrace and respect every citizen. To achieve this cultural equality, people should be at least aware of all the minorities present in the country. Thus, the information provided in the essay would be beneficial, from different perspectives, for every US citizen.

The material is relevant for the people of mixed races as well as for the American residents and governmental bodies who are still sure that the notion of pure race exists in society. After reading this article, they should accept and encourage diversity among the US population instead.

Speaking of the techniques used in the argument, the author is trying to appeal to the target audience by inserting the facts and ideas into the narrative to make the message more comprehensive. Another important technique is using the “we” pronoun to establish a bond between the author and the recipient (Spickard). In such a way, a person feels that he or she is a participant in the dialogue and not just an information consumer. The use of rhetoric questions at the beginning of the paragraphs is also beneficial for keeping the recipient’s interest in the topic. The structure of the essay is also very approachable as it consists of several parts, including the introduction, positive and negative aspects of the issue, and conclusion.

The main argument of the essay about people’s necessity to embrace their multiculturalism without being left out from the national picture seems valid for some reasons. First of all, the author uses references to legal documents that state real racial differentiation in culturally polar nations. The censuses on the US, England, and Brazil are compared to show their subjectivity as every country tends to single out racial affiliations most common for their residents.

Furthermore, the US Census is compared diachronically, using the document examples traced back to the 19th century (Spickard). Such a sophisticated and meticulous approach gives the recipient a feeling of assurance in the author’s words and ideas. Secondly, the author, while being a well-known historian with several scientific publications, does not keep the distance to show the superiority towards the reader. On the contrary, he tries to keep the recipients as close as possible to make them understand the idea better. Hence, such a method of message conveying creates the ethos of companionship rather than didactic relations.

To sum everything up, it may be concluded that “The Illogic of American Racial Categories” by Paul R. Spickard is an example of a balanced and well-conveyed essay. The aspect of the race, discussed in the paper, is quite delicate and should be written very carefully in order not to insult any social group. The approach used by the author is also practical in terms of information available as the primary purpose behind the paper is not to teach people how to act in the era of multiculturalism.

The idea is to discuss with Americans issues, which concern the author to the same extent as the recipients. The language of the essay is comprehensive for people without broad knowledge in history or sociology. Hence, the paper is mostly relevant for any citizen who is willing to establish racial and ethnic equality, or for those who are afraid to accept their identity without losing a particular cultural affiliation.

Work Cited

Spickard, Paul R. “PBS. Web.

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"Racial Affiliation as a Social Construct." IvyPanda, 27 June 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/racial-affiliation-as-a-social-construct/.

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IvyPanda. "Racial Affiliation as a Social Construct." June 27, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/racial-affiliation-as-a-social-construct/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "Racial Affiliation as a Social Construct." June 27, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/racial-affiliation-as-a-social-construct/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Racial Affiliation as a Social Construct'. 27 June.

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