Wealth Power Prestige



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    • "...all animals are equal here, but some are more equal than others." [G,Orwell, Animal Farm]
  • What does Social Inequality Mean?
    • Wealth
    • Power
    • Prestige
  • Differential Access to
  • On What bases is Differential Access Based
    • Gender
    • Race
    • Age
    • Ethnicity
    • Religion
    • Kinship
  • I.e. anything that can be used to differentiate people
  • Differences are accorded varying degrees of value
  • Those who are most similar to “me” have the highest value
  • Those who are the most unlike “me” have the lowest value
  • Making that which is most like me a social value requires an act of hegemony
  • Hegemony is the domination of culture by one particular cultural group, resulting in the empowerment of certain cultural beliefs, values, and practices over others.
  • To some extent it also requires the “buy in” of the lower ranked group
  • How does differential access to wealth, power and prestige arise from differences between people?
  • Classification of Societies Based on the Equality-Inequality continuum
  • Egalitarian Societies
  • Ranked Societies
  • Stratified Societies
  • Eg. Hadza of Tanzania, !Kung bushmen of the Kalahari, and Batek of Malaysia
  • Foragers with few possessions, no land ownership, and little specialization, other than a division of labour based on gender and age
  • lack any clear organisational structure
  • There is a continuing debate as to whether there is inequality between men and women in foraging societies.
  • Egalitarian societies
  • Hadza of Tanzania
  • Marx and Engels argued that the real basis of social and political inequality was property, and that since there was no private property in primitive societies, there was no state and no class or inequality.
  • !Kung bushmen of the Kalahari
  • Foragers recognize individuals with special skills, but those who possess them are not seen superior in other respects
  • Leaders have influence, but no authority
  • The people possess norms that emphasize sharing and ideals of interpersonal equality.

Simple Horticultural Societies

  • surplus gives rise to resources privileges
  • people are divided into hierarchically ordered groups that differ in terms of prestige and status
  • but not significantly in terms of access to resources (wealth) or power.
  • it is possible to identify persons we can label as chiefs whose inherited position has prestige
  • This is often linked to the redistribution of goods.
  • ranked societies
  • Little Big Man
  • Tribe : Oglala Lakota )
  • With ranked societies comes the need to organize labor beyond the household level and the potential for major construction projects (cooperative labor)
  • Individuals can achieve power and prestige

Agricultural Societies

  • agricultural tools increase surplus, reduce labour.
  • slavery is possible, private property, inheritance.

Industrial Societies

  • depend on
  • educated workers
  • Consumerism
  • more democracy
  • less equality.
  • Stratified Societies
  • Societies divided into horizontal layers of equality and inequality.
  • Marked inequalities in access to wealth, power, and prestige
  • passed on from generation to generation.
  • Has a significant effect on individuals’ “life chances.” (Weber)
  • Found almost exclusively within complex societies with centralised political systems and large populations
  • Stratification systems vary in
    • the number of ranked groups,
    • the degree to which there is agreement regarding their hierarchical placement
    • the size of the strata
    • The ability of individuals to move within strata
  • Ranked divisions are called strata.
  • frequently, such cultures are symbolized not by the handshake, which reflects equality, but by different forms of bowing, symbolizing inequality
  • Comparative Systems
  • U. S. 1970
  • U. S. 1999
  • Sweden
  • China
  • Mexico
  • Asante Kotoko
  • Control of wealth and power in the hands of a few.
  • Status and rewards are heritable.
  • Social mobility is limited.
  • What is Class?
    • Class is essentially a theoretical concept
    • Classes are strata of a particular kind.
    • defined primarily in terms of roles and economic relationships.
  • Because there are no physical markers or signs of class we need cultural ones.
  • So How are Social Classes Manifest?
  • through verbal evaluation - I.e what people say about their own society - by singling out and speaking favourably or unfavourably about a group of people and their political, economic, or other qualities
  • through patterns of association - In Western society, informal friendly relations take place mainly within one's own class. Eg a janitor is unlikely to associate with a CEO
  • through language
  • through symbolic indicators I.e.activities and possessions indicative of class
    • Wealth: rich people generally are of a higher social class than poor people
    • Dress: white collar vs. blue collar
    • Form of recreation: upper-class people are expected to play golf rather than shoot pool down at the pool hall - but they can do it at home.
    • Residential location: upper-class people do not ordinarily live in slums
    • Material Possessions: Kind of car: Rolex watch, how many bathrooms a house has
    • Occupation: a garbage collector has a different class status than a physician
  • we find broadly similar patterns of occupational ranking across a very wide range of societies eg Canada, Poland and South Africa
  • Janitor
  • Lawyer
  • Baker
  • Teacher
  • Politician
  • Doctor
  • What criteria do you use?
  • Rank These Occupations
  • Tastes
  • Lifestyles and Interests
  • Language
  • Self Image
  • Values
  • Political orientation
  • Access to such resources as education, health care, housing and consumer goods.
  • How long you will live & how healthy you will be
  • What sort of things does social class affect
  • London 2000. The difference in life expectancy between social class I (professionals) and social class V (unskilled manual workers) is 9.5 years for men and 6.4 years for women (Hattersley, 1999).

Class Cultures

  • Pierre Bourdieu (1984) Cultural capital- the cultural assets of class:
      • speech etiquette,
      • dress,
      • body language,
      • information
      • tastes.
  • Bourdieu’s found the culture of the upper class was oriented to abstract thought and formal reasoning…art, literature and intellectual leisure activities. The lower class was focused on the concrete, the necessities of life.
  • These differences appear early in life, upper-class children know numbers and alphabets, have books, magazines, have been to concerts, have computers, have traveled, know proper grammar.
  • Classes often amount to subcultures. Classes tend to reproduce themselves culturally.

Classes in Canada

  • Upper-upper class
    • About 1%, “old money”
  • Lower-upper
    • 2-4%, nouveau riche, .com millionaires.
    • Sir Kenneth Thompson Canada’s richest man (16.4 billion 2001)
  • Upper Class

Classes in Canada: Middle Class

  • 40 – 50% of population
  • Considerable racial and ethnic diversity
    • Upper-middle: upper managerial or professional fields ($100k +)
    • middle-middle class. ($50-$100,000)
    • Lower-middle: middle management, white-collar and highly skilled blue-collar. (< $50,000)

Classes in Canada: Working Class

  • 1/3 of the population.
  • Lower incomes than middle-class.
  • No accumulated wealth.
  • Less personal satisfaction in jobs.

Classes in Canada: Lower Class

  • 20% of population
  • Social assistance and working poor
  • Revolving door of poverty
  • Seasonal, part-time workers, minimum wage earners.
  • rags to riches
  • Ideology encourages upward striving
  • but mobility may be limited
  • in Canada based on presumptions of merit -- one gets what one deserves.
  • How many believe everyone is born equal.
  • How rigid are classes.
  • People can imitate a raised status by adopting the symbols and trappings of upper classes
  • Rich get richer and poor get poorer
  • Class Mobility
  • How easy is it to change class
    • Where the extended family is the usual form, mobility is apt to be difficult since each individual's status is linked to the family group
    • It is easier where the nuclear family predominates Because the individual is tied to fewer people. And because when they leave the home they sever the class ties
    • The degree of mobility in a stratified society is related to the prevailing kind of family

Conceptions of social Class

  • Plato: two classes: Rich and Poor
  • Aristotle three classes: upper class, servile lower class and a worthy middle class
  • Romans used the word Classis and divided the population for taxation into the Assidui richest, and proletarii who owned only their children

Karl Marx’s Concept of Class

  • Marx and Friedrick Engels wrote The Communist Manifesto in 1849. The history of class struggles.
  • linked the emergence of class society to the rise of private property and the state.
  • Class position is defined in terms of the relationship of people's labour to the means of production.
    • Bourgeoisie who own the land and machinery (capital)
    • Proletariat who sell their labour for wages
  • In a capitalistic society (i.e. Western Europe, the US and Canada)
  • the middle class of merchants and professionals, he believed,
  • would be crushed into becoming proletariat.
  • the farmers and peasants would have little role. Underclass (Lumpenproletariat)
  • Karl Marx’s Concept of Class
  • Exploitation of the proletariat by the bourgeoisie leads to alienation
  • once the members become aware that they are being exploited they become a ‘class for itself’ instead of simply a ‘class of itself’ and rise up in revolution.
  • This Class consciousness thus leads to class conflict
  • These struggles advance society to become classless and egalitarian where the private ownership of production and property was abolished…all would be proletarian

Weber’s Three dimensions of Stratification

  • Max Weber 1864-1920 attempted to modify Marxism
  • Stratification is not solely economic.
  • He suggested that class results from interplay of three other significant factors: class, status and party:
  • These have been adapted to 3 P’s: property (class) Prestige (status) and Power (party)

Property

  • Weber defined class as a group of people with similar “life chances”.
  • Their material possessions and their opportunities for income were as important as ownership.
  • Managers and high officials have control of firms that they do not own.

Prestige

  • Weber called status the control without ownership.
  • Persons with high prestige may have little or no property, I.E. poets and saints may have immense influence while remaining penniless.

Power

  • Power is the ability to gets one’s way despite the resistance of others.
  • People may be powerful without acquiring property.
  • Power may be exchanged for economic advancement.
    • In Canada inequalities of many kinds exist simultaneously.
    • Although everyone is supposedly equal there are many inequalities of wealth, income and occupation; of power and prestige; between blacks and whites; and between men and women.
    • inequalities due to race and gender co-exist with and to some extent cut across those due to occupation
    • but they exist in a moral and cultural environment whose basic premise is equality.
    • Egalitarian in aspiration and hierarchical in organisation
    • There is a fundamental difference between the equality in modern Western societies and other societies
    • in India the basic guiding principle in social relations is inequality.
  • Inequalities in Canada

Ascription and Achievement

  • Achieved status is a position gained on merit or achievement.
  • Ascribed status is a position based on who you are, not what you do.
  • Ascriptive status places people in status positions because of family background, race, sex, or place of birth.
  • Caste
  • What is Caste?
  • A stratification system wherein cultural or racial differences are used as the basis for ascribing status
  • Castes are named, territorially delimited, and membership is determined by birth and unchanging
  • Caste is a rigid system of occupationally specialized, interdependent groups
  • Caste is the fundamental social institution in India
  • Most developed form is among Hindus although it is also found with Muslims and Christians and Sikhs
  • Caste
  • Castes are ranked by purity and pollution customs.
  • Caste organises political, economic and ritual life
  • The term caste was given by Portuguese travellers and comes from the Latin castus meaning pure
  • The original Sanskrit for the caste system was "varna", which means color.
  • Some believe that the caste system was originally based upon color lines between the conquering Aryans and the darker, native Dravidians.
  • The first three castes may have originated with the classes of Aryan society who used the darker, native population as their servants.
  • Has existed among Hindus for at least 2000 years
  • The invading white skinned Aryans referred to the conquered Indians as "Dasyu" - the "dark ones" or slaves.
  • the Vedas are full of stories of war against the Dasyu, and reflected the stark racial divisions between the Aryans and the Indians.
  • Despite centuries of mixing the upper castes, tend to be lighter than the lower castes and Daljits
  • Indian actress Preety Zinta
  • Indian actor Aamir Khanall
  • the four varnas are ranked in descending order of importance, prestige, and purity.
    • Brahmin (priests) scholars, philosophers - rewarded with honor
    • Kshatriya (warriors), rulers administrators and organizers - rewarded with power )
    • Vaishya (The People) merchants, farmers, traders, artisans, engineers - rewarded with wealth
    • Shudra. (servants) servants, hired hands, unskilled laborers, factory workers, manual laborers - rewarded with freedom from responsibility
  • "twice born." This has nothing to do with reincarnation since everyone gets reincarnated.
  • A person who is "twice born" is born once as a baby and then goes through a coming-of-age ceremony to become an adult.
  • A person who has passed through this ritual, called an upanaya, receives a sacred thread that he wears looped over one shoulder and across the torso.
  • Because Neither the Sudras nor the untouchables are twice-born their members may never learn the sacred Sanskrit language or study the holy Veda texts by themselves.
  • Twice born
  • A Maithil Brahman from a rural village north of Darbhanga
  • Brahmins deserve respect from everyone else and are considered so pure that they may never eat food prepared by anyone but another Brahmin.
  • This means that Brahmins cannot go to a restaurant where the staff are not also Brahmins
  • Brahmin priests at the annual changing of the sacred thread.
  • Brahmin
  • Brahmins are seen as mediators between the human and divine worlds
  • The Kshatriya are members of the warrior varna. Their lifetime goal is to serve as protector to their people.
  • Kshatriya
  • Rajput Landowner and his family on their land Smoking a hooka, or water pipe. 
  • Historically, The Kshatriya has contained most of the political leaders and kings, landowners
  • Vaishya
  • The Fruit Merchant
  • (Paan Wallah) the Paan Maker 
  • Paan is a like chewing tobacco although made from betelnut and paan leaves. It stains your teeth orange.
  • landless group of merchants, shopkeepers and artisans.
  • Most closely resembles the middle class
  • A Nai or barber sets up shop on the side of the road where anyone can come and get their hair cut or face shaven.  Their wives are often midwives.
  • Shudra
  • The Shudra caste performs services – the hard work and labor
  • Their specific service is a birthright
  • This varna, resembles the medieval European peasant class.
  • Mali, or gardeners
  • Dhobi – Washermen They wash the clothing for all the different caste levels. the local Dhobis wash the clothes of their patrons, and then lay them out in to dry.
  • In India musicians are Harijans (god's children)
  • The act of playing some of these instruments is considered to be unclean. 
  • The saliva that is being blown into the horns is thought to be very unhygenic, therefore not fit for people in higher castes to play these instruments.
  • Harijans or Dalits (untouchables)
  • If a Brahmin priest touches an untouchable, he or she must go through a ritual in which the pollution is washed away.
  • Untouchables do all the most unpleasant work in South Asia.
  • They are forced to live on the outskirts of towns and villages,
  • they must take water downstream from and not share wells with varna Hindus.
  • They are called "untouchables" because they are forbidden to touch anyone who belongs to one of the four varnas.
  • Hindus think that a person is born to this class because of bad karma he or she earned in a pervious life.
  • In northern India, untouchables were forced to use drums to announce their arrival
  • even their shadows were thought to be polluting.
  • In the south, some Brahmins stipulated that the lower castes would have to maintain a distance of 22 metres. from them in order not to contaminate their betters
  • A persons varna is inherited – i.e. ascribed at birth
  • individual mobility is limited or non-existent
  • The basis of the caste divisions was social and economic rather than racial
  • Castes are strongly endogamous. Caste is still extremely important in marriage. Most Hindus marry within their caste
  • NIYOGI, TELUGU BRAHMIN parents seek alliance for good-looking son,
  • 29/168, B.E., IIM(A). Parents of well educated, fair girls, below 25.
  • Respond details, horoscope: Box No.xxx The Hindu, Chennai 600 002, India.
  • VANNIYAKULA KSHATRIYA, 33/ 160, very fair, slim, beautiful, youngish entrepreneur, seeks well settled Hindu, never married professionals in India, preferably abroad below 40, Caste no bar. Respond Resume, Photo, Horoscope,
  • The Hindu Matrimonials
  • Social Mobility in Castes
  • Hypergamy -- where a sufficiently large dowry will permit a low class woman marrying into a higher class.
  • Hypergamy not only distinguished castes but also ranks them.
  • Construction of false genealogies,
  • name changing,
  • moving localities
  • conversion to Buddhism and Christianity.
  • Also
  • Each caste must observe certain rules and rituals involving notions of purity and impurity such as food habits .
  • for example, what kind of boiled vegetables they might share and with whom without pollution since substances such as hair, sweet, saliva and other secretions that can be transferred to people through food and water are polluting
  • thus the rules of how people of different caste are supposed to relate to one another to avoid pollution
  • Jati
    • Each varna is subdivided into many subsections or Jati
    • Jatis are local ranking systems and are at least partly ordered in a continuum of ritual pollution and purity
    • Jatis are many in number and vary from region to region
    • Traditionally each jati was associated with a particular occupation such as blacksmith, farmer, shoemaker, etc.
    • Occupations were hereditary services and rights known as jajmani system
    • Ideally endogamous.
    • Continue to maintain an active existence
  • Ideology
  • Hindus did not question the varna system. It’s simply the way the universe works.
  • In order to be assured of a good life in one's next reincarnation, a person must do everything he or she can to live up to the expectations of his or her varna and jati.
    • A Sudra should work hard;
    • a Brahmin should study religious texts and pray hard.
  • A particular caste position is a reward or punishment for the deeds and misdeeds of past lives justifies one's position in this life.
  • Thus one's caste position is something that is earned –ascribed
  • The scheme is sanctioned in the Rig Veda, ancient Arayan religious text from 1500 BC
  • 11 When they divided Purusa how many portions did they make? What do they call his mouth, his arms? What do they call his thighs and feet? 12 The Brahman was his mouth, of both his arms was the Rajanya (ksatriyas) made. His thighs became the Vaisya, from his feet the Sudra was produced. (Rig Veda - hymn 10.90)
  • Thousand-headed, thousand-eyed, thousand-footed Purusha primal man,
  • The Purusha myth explains the metaphysical origin of the varna
  • The caste system existed almost unchanged for 2,000 years, and although it has changed in the last 100 years the system is not dead; its effects can still be felt today
  • Two questions South Asians often ask each other when they first meet are "What is your jati?" and "What is your varna?"
  • People do not question the system so much as their position in it.
  • castes are not arranged one above the other in a relatively unambiguous way there is a lot of dispute.
  • there is not a one to one correspondence between caste and occupation
    • Never the case that all males of a given caste perform a particular occupation
    • Members of other castes may work as a farmer
    • people who perform some task of different castes
  • In Rajasthan the land-owning caste are untouchables whereas the labourers are Brahmins
  • The reality of Caste
  • Changing Significance of Caste
  • Colonials emphasized importance of caste
  • Caste is still important but has diminished since Independence
  • Caste system was seen as an obstacle to progress
  • The Constitution of India outlawed caste in 1950
  • There is ambivalence to caste as it exists today especially among many academics, and professionals who are unclear and troubled by what it means for them as members of a society that is part of the modern world.
  • The obligation to one's occupation exists independently of ones caste among professionals i.e. to preserve the occupation in the their children it is no longer seen as necessary.
  • The emergence of a large number of caste-free occupations including government, business, factories, schools, colleges, services, has greatly weakened the specific association between caste and occupation;
  • The social world created by education, occupation and income, the office, the firm, the law court and the laboratory has cut across social world of caste
    • For example the social world of the Brahman judge is different from the Brahman clerk or school teacher.
  • Changing Significance of Caste
  • The ritual and religious basis of caste has weakened greatly,
  • system of purity and pollution which ranked castes relative to one another and kept them separate is in decline
  • Most Hindus are still opposed to intercaste marriage although intercaste marriage is on the rise
  • Other criteria becoming important for example, education, occupation, and income
  • Changing Significance of Caste
      • The Politicisation of Caste
  • caste has received a new lease on life by democratic politics which encourages mobilisation of caste loyalties for electoral support.
    • Appeal to caste sentiment, activating networks of kinship and marriage and caste associations
  • In the mobilisation for electoral support caste loyalties tend to act like ethnic loyalties in many Western societies.
  • The first non-Congress government in New Delhi in 1977 argued that lower castes had been stigmatised and exploited in the past and that they should be given special protection through extensive quotas in the domain of public life
  • Involvement with politics has redefined caste
    • Talk now is of ethnic identities and ethnic loyalties
    • A shift in meaning of caste
    • i.e. conceived more in terms of ethnicity
  • Race and Racism
  • Homo sapiens celebrating their diversity (from the American Anthropological Association Newsletter).
  • What is race?
  • We all know that people look different. Anyone can tell a Czech from a Chinese. But are these differences racial? What does race mean?
  • distinct divisions of the human species into groups based on physical characteristics such as
    • skin color,
    • eye and nose shape, - hair texture, etc.
  • Traditional view
  • Classification Exercise
  • Put into two groups based on characteristics you find significant.
  • What was your reasoning?
  • Most Common Grouping
  • Other groupings are possible
  • No “natural” or “right” grouping
  • Schema based on of what we notice
  • Which Race?
  • English
  • French
  • Jews
  • Gypsies
  • Norwegians
  • Saudi Arabians
  • Ukranians
  • Koreans
  • Algerians
  • Native Americans
  • Inuit
  • Italians
  • Australian aborigines
  • Egyptians
  • South Africans
  • Chinese
  • What race is this man?
  • ddPaternal
  • Grandparents
  • 1 White
  • 1 Native American
  • 2 Black
  • ddMaternal
  • Grandparents
  • 2 Chinese
  • 2 Thai
  • Father
  • Mother
  • What assumptions lie behind the designation of Tiger Woods as an “African American”?
  • The “drop of blood” theory
  • Southern segregation laws: 1/64 black = black
  • The obsession to classify people by race in the US:
  • These are social, not biological ideas
  • very few genes determine racial appearance
  • Hair form types and skin colours shade into each other; there is no line in nature between a white and a black race, or Asian race
  • Simplistic racial categories based merely upon a few traits hardly constitute a scientific approach to human biological variability.
  • while there is plenty of genetic variation in humans, most of the variation is individual variation.
  • While between-population variation exists, it is minimal
  • There are no races in the biological sense of distinct divisions of the human species
  • The physical traits chosen to define race are basically arbitrary and could be thinks such as red hair, or ear or nose shape
  • terms like Black, White, Asian, and Latino are social groups, not genetically distinct branches of humankind.
  • "Race is a real cultural, political and economic concept in society
  • Race is…
  • Categories defined and assigned significance by the society
  • an ever changing complex of meanings shaped by sociopolitical conflict
  • not a fixed, concrete, natural attribute
  • the institutionalisation of physical appearance
  • socially or culturally and historically constructed
  • shaped by those in power.
  • meaningful
  • social meaning which has been legally constructed
  • racial differences exist and are perpetuated because they have cultural significance
  • S.Washburn, anthropologist
  • the number of races will depend on the purpose of classification. I think we should require people who propose a classification of races to state in the first place why they wish to divide the human species.
  • The Anthropology View
  • Although people obviously differ from each other physically, we are not able to attribute differences in culture to differences in physique (or “mentality”). In our study of culture, therefore, we may regard human race as of uniform quality, i.e., as a constant, and, hence, we eliminate it from our study.—Leslie White (1900-1975)
  • Social Meaning of Race Affects
  • Life chances
  • Where you live
  • How you are treated
  • Access to wealth, power and prestige
  • Access to education, housing, and other valued resources
  • Life expectancy
  •                                                                                                                                                                                      
  • Health Disparity
  • The U.S. Census Bureau has been gathering data by race since 1790 because the Constitution specified that a slave counted as three-fifths of a white person, and because Indians were not taxed.
  • More recently, the way in which information regarding race is collected has been hotly debated.
    • Some social scientists and interested citizens have been working to add a “multiracial” category to the census.
    • This “multiracial” category has been opposed by the NAACP and the National Council of La Raza because both groups feel that the communities they represent will lose access to funding, resources, and jobs if their numbers as counted by the census go down.
  • The choice of “some other race” has more than doubled from 1980 and 2000.
    • This represents an imprecision in and dissatisfaction with the existing categories.
    • Also, the number of interracial marriages and children is increasing.
  • “As long as Americans routinely sort each other into racial categories and act on the basis of those attributions, research on the role of race and race relations in the United States falls squarely within [a] scientific agenda...As the United States becomes more diverse, the need for public agencies to continue to collect data on racial categories will become even more important. The continuation of the collection and scholarly analysis of data serves both science and the public interest.” --American Sociological Assoc.
  • Some people argue that since race has no biological existence, the U.S. government should cease collecting data about race
  • the American Sociological Association asks “Would ‘Race” Disappear if the United States Officially Stopped Measuring It?”
  • Statistics Canada
  • Collects information on
  • Visible minorities
    • persons who are identified according to the Employment Equity Act as being non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour
    • Aboriginal persons are not considered to be members of visible minority groups
  • Ethnicity
    • includes aspects such as race, origin or ancestry, identity, language and religion, culture, the arts, customs and beliefs and even practices such as dress and food preparation.
    • It is also dynamic and in a constant state of flux. It will change as a result of new immigration flows, blending and intermarriage, and new identities may be formed.
  • There are fundamental three ways of measuring ethnicity: origin or ancestry, race and identity.
  • Race refers to the genetically imparted physiognomical features of a person
  • The change in format to an open-ended question in 1996 likely affected response patterns, especially for groups who had been included as mark-in response categories in 1991.
  • In addition, the presence of examples such as "Canadian", which were not included in previous censuses, may also affect response patterns.
  • Ethnic
  • Each of us has an ethnicity - frequently confused with race
  • Shared cultural characteristics of a group
  • Includes: national origin, language, traditions, customs, religious beliefs/practices, etc. as well as racial category
  • The American Anthropological Association has recommended that the Census Bureau eliminate the term "race" and replace it with "ethnic origins," noting that many Americans confuse race, ethnicity and ancestry.
  • The ancient Greeks, for example, saw themselves as first among civilized nations around the Mediterranean
  • But the Greeks did not link physical appearance and cultural attainment.
  • They granted civilized status to the Nile Valley Nubians who were among the darkest skinned people they knew
  • They did not grant it to European barbarians to the north who were lighter skinned than they were
  • People were divided on the basis of religion, class or language or status
  • Race did not exist until the European expansion and exploration beginning around 1500
  • A Brief History of race
  • The distribution of human skin color before A.D. 1400
  • Slavery
  • Before the 1400s slavery was widespread in state societies
  • but its victims were either recruited internally or from neighbouring groups and were largely physically indistinguishable from slave-holders. i .e. slavery was not based on race
  • Romans slaves pouring wine
  • Slavery was a status that might be held by anyone.
  • Slave descendants could acculturate into the dominant population and did not become permanently demarcated by race.
  • Egyptian slaves
  • Europeans did not encounter them on equal terms
  • superior technology, especially military technology, meant Europeans were significantly more powerful
  • After 1500
  • European exploration brought them increasingly into contact with other human societies
  • As a result, exploration quickly turned to conquest and gave rise to an Ethnocentric feeling of European superiority.
  • After 1500 a racial order built on the ethnocentrism of the various European colonial powers.
  • A Women of Color with her African Slave. 1804
  • This characterisation was important because of the way in which the colours black and white were emotionally loaded concepts in European languages especially English
    • The contrasts denoted polar opposites
    • white represented good, purity and virginity
    • black symbolized death, evil and debasement
  • Africans, native Americans, and colonised Asians were devalued, intermarriage was prohibited and persons of mixed ancestry were denied same entitlements as those of solely European ancestry
  • evident in all European colonial societies by the late 1600s
  • What struck explorers most forcefully were differences in physical appearance particularly skin colour
  • An early distinction emerged between those who had black skin as opposed to had white skin.
  • The Scientific basis of race
  • The concept of race emerged in modern form between the end of the 18th century and the middle of the 19th.
  • Its emergence is, in part, an aspect of the general growth of scientific enquiry and explanation
  • In the 1700s as Western science developed it began thinking about, and explaining natural and social phenomena and to place the world’s peoples into natural schemes
  • a drive was underway to map and explain a similar order in the natural and social worlds.
  • culminated in 1795 when Johann Friedrich Blumenbach first used the word ”race” to classify humans into five divisions
  • Caucasian,
  • Malayan
  • Ethiopian,
  • American
  • Mongolian,
  • Johann Friedrich
  • Blumenbach
  • (1752-1840)
  • Blumenbach also coined the term "Caucasian" because he believed that the Caucasus region of Asia Minor produced "the most beautiful race of men".
  • He collected hundreds of human skulls and measured them by filling the skulls with lead pellets and then pouring the pellets into a glass measuring cup.
  • His tables assign the highest brain capacity to Europeans (with the English highest of all). Second rank goes to Chinese, third to Southeast Asians and Polynesians, fourth to American Indians, and last place to Africans and Australian aborigines.
  • Samuel G. Morton (1799-1851)
  • 1830s and 1840s Philadelphia doctor and polygenist Samuel Morton set out to prove that whites were naturally superior and that brain size bore a direct relation to intelligence
  • His work helped establish the scientific basis for physical anthropology but also the idea that race is inherently biological
  • In 1977 Stephen Jay Gould (In the Mismeasure of Man 1981), reanalysed the data
  • discovered that Morton’s racist bias had prevented identification of what clearly were fully overlapping measurements among the racial skull samples he used.
  • Gould in his desire to prove Morton wrong demonstrated the opposite bias and discovered that the skulls of black people were actually larger.
  • He then did a blind test and discovered the overlapping measurements
  • Boas in the 1890s broke the link of anthropology with race by showing that language, race and culture were separate things and needed to be studied separately.
  • Showed that mappings of Northwest Coast Native American biological traits, cultural similarities and linguistic affinities yielded different results.
  • Breaking the link between race and anthropology
  • The Concept of race under attack
  • The revelation of the Holocaust, and the enlistment of science in its perpetuation, caused a wave of international revulsion.
  • In the 1960s the idea of race itself became the target
  • The anti-racists attacked the notion that the human species was divisible into five or any other small number of races.
  • the result was the gradual disappearance of the concept of race from natural science
  • In the 1960s a anthropology affirmed that race does not exist
  • What is Racism?
  • a doctrine or belief in racial superiority, including the idea that race determines intelligence, cultural characteristics and moral attributes
    • Racism thus makes an association between physical psychological and moral attributes
    • and these are used to justify discrimination and prejudice.
  • The belief that there are differences between human beings which are inherited such that they can be ordered into separate races in such a way that each race shares traits and tendencies which are not shared by members of any other race. Each race has an 'essence'.
  • Race was essentialized i.e. it came to be seen as real, natural, and unquestionable
  • All forms of racism build from the premise of racialism. Notice that racialism is not saying anything 'good' or 'bad' about races just that mutually exclusive races absolutely exist and divide the species.
  • Over the centuries, dominant groups have used racial ideology to justify, explain, and preserve their privileged social positions. Racism is the socially-organized result of race ranking
  • racialism
  • Martin Luther King:
  • ‘I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they are not judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character’
    • The notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a person’s genetic lineage
    • Which means, in practice, that a person is to be judged, not by their own character and actions, but by the character and actions of a collective of ancestors.
    • Even if it were proved that the incidence of a men of potentially superior brain power is greater among the members of certain races than among the members of others, it would tell us nothing about any given individual and it would be irrelevant to one’s judgement of him.
    • Should a Hitler be raised to superior status because his German race has produced Goethe, Brahms, Wagner, etc.
      • A genius is a genius, regardless of the number of morons who belong to the same race - and a moron is a moron, regardless of the number of geniuses who share his racial origin.
      • Racism claims that the content of a person’s mind (not their cognitive apparatus, but its content) is inherited;
      • that a persons conviction, values and character are determined before they are born, by physical factors beyond their control.
      • Race is employed in order to classify and systematically exclude members of given groups from full participation in the social system controlled by the dominant group
  • Levi Strauss sums up racism doctrine in 4 points
  • 1. There is a correlation between genetic heritage on the one hand and intellectual aptitudes and moral inclinations on the other
  • 2. All members of human groups share this heritage, on which these aptitudes and inclinations depend
  • 3. These groups, called races, can be evaluated as a function of the quality of their genetic heritage
  • 4. These differences authorise the so-called superior races to command and exploit the others
  • the physical features of race are unimportant in themselves
  • They enter into social life only when people think they are important and act as if they are.
  • What do people think and feel about the physical differences of race.
  • How does race fit into our common sense views
  • People construct racial categories which they then impose on their own and other groups
  • They use physical appearance to mark out the social boundaries between groups
  • They draw a false conclusion that the moral and intellectual achievements of groups are the result of their physical features.
  • to claim that someone has expressed a racist opinion is to denounce them as immoral and unworthy.
  • Racism is a term of political abuse
  • related to power relations
  • On April 20th, 1999 two gun-toting students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., killing 12 students and a teacher
  • What if they had been black?

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