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Flashcards in Race, Ethnicity, Class Deck (15)
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1

Social stratification

- In a stratified society, there is a permanent hierarchy that accords some members privileged access to wealth, power, and prestige
- Today, we are discussing 5 kinds of stratification: class, caste, race and ethnicity, and nationality as “cultural inventions”
- Not one criterion used to rank people that is universal

2

Cultural inventions

- All of these are based on imagined divisions between communities – i.e., we are responsible for creating them and sustaining them
- None are based on biology
E.g. race as a cultural construction is real, but divisions are not based in biology
- Naturalizing discourse

3

Class

- A ranked group within a hierarchically stratified society whose membership is defined primarily in terms of wealth, occupation, and/or access to power
- Often described as achieved or ascribed status, but growing wealth gap suggests that perhaps more often ascribed
- Achieved suggests we live in meritocracy, but overshadows the way class intersects with other identities, such as race or gender
E.g. Canadian women earning 87¢ to $1 a man makes for hourly wages; for annual wages, only 74¢ to the $1 (2015)

4

How do class and race intersect to produce residential segregation?

- Residential segregation is the physical separation of groups of individuals in terms of where they live
- RS generally results in the concentration of poverty in certain neighborhoods in Canada and the U.S.
-Neighbourhoods with poor and racialized communities may also be located in close proximity to toxic sites = environmental racism
E.g., Africville settlement in Halifax settled by former American slaves in 1800s soon surrounded by abattoir, infectious disease hospital, human feces disposal pits, a prison, an open dump, and incinerator. Razed to the ground in 1960s and forced relocation of 400 residents

5

Regent Park

- Segregation was intentional, as it was thought that a quiet, green space could ‘redeem’ ‘bad’ people
- Increasing racialization of the neighbourhood over the years
- Physical segregation exaggerated, but social segregation (as a place you don’t go because dangerous) is very real
- This neighbourhood is now being redeveloped as a mixed-income community (e.g., condo owners who pay market value mixed in with social housing recipients)

6

Caste

- A ranked group within a socially stratified society that is closed, so people cannot move from one caste into another
- People at birth are assigned to caste based on the endogamous social and occupational groups of parents
- People observe purity and pollution rules and food taboos

7

Caste example: India

- Caste in India based on traditional occupation roles (varna) and Hindu ritual categories of purity and pollution (jāti)
- Varna: A caste that refers to the widespread notion that Indian society is divided into four functional subdivisions:
Priests (Brahmins)
Nobility (soldiers, politicians, administrators) (Kshattriya)
Farmers and Merchants (Vaisya)
Labourers and Servants (Sudra)
Below religious hierarchy are Untouchables (Harijans, now Dalit)
-Jāti: A caste that refers to localized, named, endogamous groups

8

Race

- A broad human population category that allegedly corresponds to distinct, heritable sets of biological attributes and often conflates geographic ancestry and physical type
- Races, as discreet biological categories, do not exist
- About culture, not biology
- Race is, however, a meaningful social category with very real social consequences
- Race and racism are embedded in institutions and everyday life

9

Race origins

- European exploration and conquest of 15th century
- Based on visible (phenotypic) traits to justify domination over Indigenous people and the enslavement of Africans
- Although it was based on visible features, was assumed that many cultural traits were carried with race
E.g. intelligence, athletic prowess, sexual appetite
- These ideas were based in culture, not biology
E.g. drapetomania

10

Race in Brazil

- Brazil has one of the highest rates of inter-racial marriages (1/3 compared to < 5% in Canada) but most common amongst lowest earners (black and mixed race) and rarer in high income brackets
- Black and mixed-race Brazilians earn less than whites (42%)
- Even for children born to one white parent and one black or mixed race parent, the desire is for he/she to be lighter-skinned

11

Impact of race in Brazil

- Anthropologist Alexander Edmonds (2010) found that non-white Brazilians try to ‘whiten’ appearance using plastic surgery because white features associated with power, privilege and prestige
- Achieving physical beauty viewed as a necessary means to achieve social mobility
- Plastic surgery rates among highest in the world and government subsidizes for working class
- Edmonds shows how race and class intersect because women could improve social standing by changing physical appearance

12

Race that is more fluid

Demonstrated through concepts of social race (achieved status with a racial label in a system of stratification that is composed of open, class-like categories to which racial labels are assigned, e.g. Colonial Oaxaco, Mexico) and colourism (system of social identities negotiated situationally along a continuum of skin colours between white and black, e.g. Nicaragua)

13

Racism

The systematic oppression of one or more socially defined “races” by another socially defined “race” that is justified in terms of the supposedly inherent biological superiority of the rulers and the supposed inherent biological inferiority of those they rule

14

Racism in Holmes

- Name-calling, “dirty,” “dogs”
- Bank policy
- Ideas that they are better suited to picking because “lower to the ground” and they “like working bent over” (also based on ethnic groups)
- JR and wife’s opinions that anyone who is not U.S. born is ‘foreigner’ = not ambitious, draining the system through welfare

15

Impact of racism in Holmes

- Symbolic violence and internalized hierarchies
- Blamed for suffering (idea that could get out of poverty if they wanted to, no attention to structural factors like NAFTA)
- Normalization (housing conditions as ‘better’ than what used to)
- Naturalization (small height, closer to the ground) = bodies separated on ethno-racial lines and seen to deserve social position they are accorded
- Internalization (‘stronger’, not susceptible to pesticides)