Dominant and Subordinate Groups
The terms majority group and minority group are widely used, but their meanings are less clear as the composition of the U.S. population continues to change. Accordingly. many sociologists prefer the terms dominant and subordinate to identify power relation ships that are based on perceived racial. ethnic, or other
attributes and identities. To sociologists, a dominant ~group is one that Is advantaged and has superior resources and rights in a society (Feagin and Feagin.
2008). In the United States, whites with Northern European ancestry (often referred to as Euro-Americans, 'white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. or WASPs) are considered to be a dominant group. A subordinate group is one whose members. because of physical or cultural characteristics. are disadvantaged a!,d subjected to
unequal treatment by the dominant group and who regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination. Persons of color and white women are considered to be subordinate-group members in the United States. particularly when these individuals are from lower-income categories. It is important to note that. in the sociological sense, group as used in these two terms is misleading because people who merely share ascribed racial or ethnic characteristics do not constitute a group. However, the terms group and subordinate group do give us a way to describe relationships of advantage disadvantage and power/exploitation that exist in contemporary nations.