social inequality

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Transcript social inequality

Social Inequality
"...all animals are equal here, but
some are more equal than
others." [G,Orwell, Animal Farm]
What does Social Inequality Mean?
Differential Access to
 Wealth
 Power
 Prestige
On What bases is Differential Access Based
 Gender
 Race
 Age
 Ethnicity
 Religion
 Kinship
I.e. anything that can be used to differentiate people
How does differential access to wealth, power and
prestige arise from differences between 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
Classification of Societies Based on
the Equality-Inequality continuum
 Egalitarian Societies
 Ranked Societies
 Stratified Societies
Egalitarian 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
There is a continuing debate as to
whether there is inequality between
men and women in foraging
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.
of the
Foragers recognize individuals
with special skills, but those who
possess them are not seen superior
in other respects
Leaders have influence, but no
The people possess norms that
emphasize sharing and ideals of
interpersonal equality.
Simple Horticultural Societies
• surplus gives rise to
resources privileges
ranked societies
people are divided into
hierarchically ordered groups that
differ in terms of prestige and
but not significantly in terms of
access to resources (wealth) or
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.
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
Agricultural Societies
• agricultural tools
increase surplus,
reduce labour.
• slavery is possible,
private property,
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
Has a significant effect on
individuals’ “life chances.” (Weber)
Found almost exclusively within
complex societies with centralised
political systems and large populations
Ranked divisions are called strata.
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
frequently, such
cultures are
symbolized not by the
handshake, which
reflects equality, but
by different forms of
bowing, symbolizing
Comparative Systems
U. S.
U. S.
Asante Kotoko
Control of wealth and
power in the hands of a few.
Status and rewards are
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
Rank These
What criteria do
you use?
we find broadly similar
patterns of occupational
ranking across a very wide
range of societies eg Canada,
Poland and South Africa
What sort of things does social class affect
 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
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
speech etiquette,
body language,
 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 Class
• Upper-upper class
– About 1%, “old
• Lower-upper
– 2-4%, nouveau riche,
.com millionaires.
– Sir Kenneth
Thompson Canada’s
richest man (16.4
billion 2001)
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
• 1/3 of the population.
• Lower incomes than
• No accumulated
• Less personal
satisfaction in jobs.
Classes in Canada: Lower Class
• 20% of population
• Social assistance and
working poor
• Revolving door of
• Seasonal, part-time
workers, minimum
wage earners.
Class Mobility
How easy is it to change class
 rags to riches
 Ideology encourages upward striving
but mobility may be limited
 in Canada based on presumptions of merit -- one gets what one
 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
The degree of mobility in a stratified society
is related to the prevailing kind of family
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
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
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
– 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
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
• Max Weber 1864-1920
attempted to modify Marxism
• Stratification is not solely
• 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)
• 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.
• Weber called status the control without
• Persons with high prestige may have little
or no property, I.E. poets and saints may
have immense influence while remaining
• 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
Inequalities in Canada
 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
 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
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.
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
Castes are ranked by purity and pollution customs.
 Caste organises political, economic and ritual life
Has existed among Hindus for at least 2000 years
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
The invading white
skinned Aryans referred to
the conquered Indians as
"Dasyu" - the "dark ones"
or slaves.
Indian actress
Preety Zinta
Indian actor
Aamir Khanall
the Vedas are full of
stories of war against the
Dasyu, and reflected the
stark racial divisions
between the Aryans and the
Despite centuries of
mixing the upper castes,
tend to be lighter than the
lower castes and Daljits
 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
Untouchables, also known
as Harijans or Dalits, fall
outside of the caste system all
Shudra. (servants) servants, hired
hands, unskilled laborers, factory
workers, manual laborers rewarded with freedom from
Twice born
"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.
Brahmins are seen as
mediators between the
human and divine worlds
A Maithil Brahman
from a rural village
north of Darbhanga
Brahmin priests at the
annual changing of the
sacred thread.
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
The Kshatriya are members of the warrior varna. Their
lifetime goal is to serve as protector to their people.
Historically, The
Kshatriya has
contained most of
the political
leaders and kings,
Rajput Landowner and his family on their
land Smoking a hooka, or water pipe.
landless group of
merchants, shopkeepers
and artisans.
Most closely
resembles the middle
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
The Shudra caste performs services –
the hard work and labor
Their specific service is a birthright
This varna, resembles the medieval
European peasant 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.
Mali, or
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.
Harijans or Dalits (untouchables)
In India musicians are Harijans
(god's children)
The act of playing some of these
instruments is considered to be
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.
They are called "untouchables" because they are forbidden to
touch anyone who belongs to one of the four varnas.
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 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
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
The Hindu Matrimonials
parents seek alliance for goodlooking son,
160, very fair, slim, beautiful,
youngish entrepreneur, seeks well
settled Hindu, never married
29/168, B.E., IIM(A). Parents of well
professionals in India, preferably
educated, fair girls, below 25.
abroad below 40, Caste no bar.
Respond details, horoscope: Box
Respond Resume, Photo, Horoscope, The Hindu, Chennai 600
002, India.
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
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
 thus the rules of how people of
different caste are supposed to
relate to one another to avoid
 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
Hindus did not question the varna
system. It’s simply the way the universe
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 The scheme is
punishment for the deeds and misdeeds of sanctioned in the
past lives justifies one's position in this life. Rig Veda, ancient
Arayan religious
Thus one's caste position is something
text from 1500 BC
that is earned –ascribed
The Purusha myth explains the metaphysical origin of the varna
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 reality of Caste
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
 Never the case that all males of a given caste perform a particular
 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
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.
Changing Significance of Caste
 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
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
 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
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
Traditional view
distinct divisions of the human species
into groups based on physical
characteristics such as
- skin color,
- eye and nose shape,
- hair texture, etc.
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?
Native Americans
Australian aborigines
Saudi Arabians
South Africans
What race is this man?
1 White
1 Native American
2 Black
2 Chinese
2 Thai
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
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
"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.
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?”
“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.
Statistics Canada
Collects information on
1. Visible minorities
persons who are identified according to the Employment
Equity Act as being non-Caucasian in race or non-white in
Aboriginal persons are not considered to be members of
visible minority groups
2. 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.
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.
A Brief History of race
Race did not exist until the European expansion and exploration
beginning around 1500
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
The distribution of human skin color before A.D. 1400
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. Egyptian slaves
i .e. slavery was not based on race
 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.
Romans slaves pouring wine
After 1500
European exploration brought them increasingly into
contact with other human societies
 Europeans did not
encounter them on
equal terms
 superior technology,
especially military
technology, meant
Europeans were
significantly more
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.
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.
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
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
Johann Friedrich
Blumenbach also coined the term "Caucasian" because he
believed that the Caucasus region of Asia Minor produced
"the most beautiful race of men".
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
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
Samuel G. Morton (1799-1851)
last place to Africans and
Australian aborigines.
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
Breaking the link between race and anthropology
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.
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
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
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
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
 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
 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
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
What if they had
been black?