Sunday, July 24, 2011


This essay just give an idea about the ethnic relations.


most concerned with majority-minority relations because of their potential for serious disruption in a society, i.e. it is not functional for a society to become severely divided along lines of race, ethnicity or religion

if a society has ethnic inequality, one of two conditions must be present – either the inequality itself is meeting some kind of social need in the society, or more likely the inequality is a result of some social condition that is in some ways useful to society

in general sense of stratification: possible function - creates incentives, e.g. in terms of jobs some jobs are more critical to the functioning of society and require longer, more difficult periods of training and thus these jobs carry greater rewards, therefore socioeconomic inequality is necessary and inevitable – however no explanation is given for why stratification should occur on basis of race or ethnicity

in case of race, ethnic minorities fill an important need by their willingness to work at jobs and/or wages that are unattractive to others but needed – fills essential jobs, especially true for immigrant minorities who view such positions as superior to those available in their place of origin, and can be applied to rural migrants to cities

Key function: it sees ethnic stratification not so much as something that is useful to society itself but rather ethnic stratification is the product of ethnocentrism which is what is useful – because society needs a shared identity, a "we" feeling, cooperation which is only possible when society’s members share certain basic values

most functionalists agree that ethnic stratification is a problem and it ought to be minimized but it is seen as inevitable as long as there is diversity within a society, because of need for consensus and group identity, ethnocentrism will always tend to occur

The ways to minimize ethnocentrism are:
to reduce cultural differences between dominant group and minorities

to eliminate legal and other barriers set up by dominant group to exclude minorities,
 to develop any skills that may be lacking in the minority groups to enable them to participate in society

this will result in assimilation which is only way out

burden of change is on minority groups

minority groups will experience hostility

most inequality is inherited not earned and there is not free mobility between generations, and thus incentive argument cannot work

1) Assimilation theories – Melting pot assumption
Proposed stages of assimilation (Robert Park):

initial contact

competitive phase: ethnic populations compete over resources, such as jobs

accommodation phase: immigrants and descendants are forced to change and adapt to their new environment


Types of assimilation:

Cultural assimilation: values, beliefs, dogmas, ideologies, language and other systems of symbols of the dominant culture are adopted.

Structural assimilation: migrant ethnic groups become members of the primary groups within dominant ethnic populations, their families, close friends, cliques within clubs, and groups within organizations

Marital: emergence of high rates of intermarriage between the migrant and dominant ethnic groups
 Identification: individuals no longer see themselves as distinctive and, like members of the dominant groups, stake their personal identities to participation and success in the mainstream institutions of a society

Attitude-receptional assimilation: lack of prejudicial attitudes and stereotyping on the part of both the dominant and migrant ethnic groups

Behavioural-receptional assimilation: absence of intentional discrimination by dominant ethnic groups against subordinate ethnic groups

Civic assimilation: reduction of conflict between ethnic groups over basic values and access to political arena

By the 3rd generation, white ethnic groups have assimilated a considerable amount. For non-white ethnic groups take much longer


paint an overly benign view of ethnic relations, viewing assimilation as inexorable/relentless

does not explain how discriminatory forces operate instead provides consequences of these

2) Pluralism theories (Nathan Glazer, Daniel Moynihan)

stresses the process of maintaining patterns of ethnicity, maintaining distinctive cultural, organizational and behavioural characteristics is a way to cope with discrimination

When ethnic identity is nurtured, a pluralistic and permanent mosaic of ethnic sub-populations is evident

Recognizes that some assimilation does occur

Ethnogenesis is process of creating a distinctive ethnicity as a means of adapting to discrimination even as some assimilation occurs

Ethnic groups retain elements of their past but also construct and create new ways of adjusting – selectively retain elements of ethnic heritage and create new elements, new symbols to mark with pride their heritage, e.g. Irish, Poles & Italians

still do not explain broader social forces that cause and sustain discrimination, concerned more with ethnogenesis – internal process rather than external structures in society that set ethnogenesis in motion

3) Biological theories – sociobiology (Pierre van den Berghe)

units of natural selection are genes not individual, selfish genes which drive to maximize their fitness

evolutionary explanation

kin selection or inclusive fitness concept holds that family structures area strategy allowing males and females to maximize their fitness by keeping as much of their genetic material as possible in the gene pool, i.e. strategy of familism

reciprocal altruism concept explains why nonfamily members help each other survive

sociobiologists extend these concepts to a larger subpopulation, larger kin groups composed of lineages constitute a breeding population of close and distant kin

ethny term coined which is an extension of more primordial breeding populations, a cluster of kinship circles created by endogamy - in which mate selection is confined to specific groups, and territoriality – physical proximity of its members and relative isolation from nonmembers

4) Human Ecology theories (Susan Olzak) – social darwinian

stresses the forces of competition, selection and speciation of distinctive ethnic groupings

emphasis on relative size of ethnic subpopulations, patterns of migration, movement into various social niches, and competition with other ethnic groups in markets for housing and jobs

used to analyze urban areas where there is competition for scarce resources, e.g. land, housing and jobs, escalating the level of conflict between ethnic sub-populations and thus forcing ethnic groups into segregated housing niches and narrow range of economic position

niches are distinctive and have boundaries making them easy targets for discrimination, acts of violence erupt when dominant populations feel threatened
CONFLICT THEORYif a society has ethnic inequality, would see this as mainly a case of domination and exploitation

ethnic stratification is a pattern that serves the interests of some dominant elite

cause of problem is found in exploitative behaviour of either majority group as a whole or some wealthy and powerful segment of it, minority groups are subordinated because doing so provides some benefit to the elite and because the minority lacks either the power or the awareness to prevent such exploitation

ethnocentrism and other forms of prejudice develop as a way of rationalizing exploitation of minority groups

sees arguments for assimilation as a form of false consciousness whereby supporting a system of beliefs and values that go against one’s own self-interest

assimilation also blames the victim behaviour of majority group is what needs to be changed since they are the ones doing the exploitation

1) Caste theories: used to describe the black-white relations where blacks were confined to lower socioeconomic positions, denied access to power, prevented from intermarriage, segregated in their own living space. Marxist twist where importation of slaves was a business enterprise but which needed to be legitimated by highly prejudiced beliefs and stereotypes based on biological characteristics of the black race.

2) Colonialism theories: (one end of spectrum focus on race)
External colonialism: process by which one nation controls the political and economic activities of another, less developed and less powerful society

Colonization complex (Robert Blauner)
forced entry into territory and its population

alteration or destruction of indigenous culture and patterns of social organization

domination of indigenous population by representatives of invading society

justification of such activities with highly prejudicial, racist beliefs and stereotypes

Internal colonialism
process in which dynamics of colonization complex are seen to operate within a society, e.g. African-Americans, Native Americans (reservations), and Mexicans as colonies within white America

There was a need for cheap labour pool and to take control of land

Governments must actively participate to create such internal colonies, providing coercive force to control those who are colonized, while legitimating patterns of domination with laws

racial and ethnic groups would be best served by rejecting attacks on their culture rejecting calls for assimilation, and promoting and maintaining their own set of values, and control of resources in their own communities

3) Split-Labour market theories (Edna Bonacich) (middle of spectrum – focus on both race & class)

emphasis on competition between ethnic groups for resources but also on mobilization and use of power

society divided in three classes – those who own means of production, higher paid labourers, lower paid labourers

markets for labour become partitioned with members of certain ethnic groups confined to some jobs in the market and not allowed to work in others, some ethnic groups become higher paid labourers, most lower paid

pressure to split labour market comes from those in more powerful ethnic populations who fear losing their advantage if labour market were to be opened up to other racial & ethnic minority groups who would be willing to work for less and who would increase supply of labour relative to market’s demand and thus drive down wages in competition for jobs

4) Split-class theories – (Marxist theory, version of split-labour) (other end of spectrum – focus on class with race subordinate)
 society divided into two classes, those who own means of production and those who work for wages

emphasis is on economic exploitation of the lower classes by those in the higher classes, however within each class are isolated segments or sectors and thus subject to discriminatory practices, i.e. splits within each class along ethnic lines

racism is mechanism used by upper class to prevent working class recognizing its own interests, and means by which wager earners are manipulated and divided

working class would be best served if put aside racial and ethnic divisions, thus they could see themselves as workers first and then act on their common class interests

strong racial and ethnic consciousness carries risk of dividing working class

Both Split-Labour and split-class theories involve stimulation of competition between ethnic groups by upper classes.

5) Middleman minority theories – (focus on middle class, sub theory of split class theories)

emphasis on splits with middle class

petit bourgeoisie who rely on family labour and ethnic networks

middlemen along the following dimensions: middle or moderate levels of resources, serve as distribution links between producers of goods and those who buy them, go-betweens between members of elite classes and subordinate classes

these minorities have entrepreneurial skills and some capital and thus pose a threat to dominant groups, and lower classes who are clients feel exploited
e.g. Koreans and African Americans

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