Home » Help With Sociology Assignment » RACIAL AND ETHNIC CLASSIFICATION

“Race” is a troublesome concept, for it has no generally agreed upon meaning. In pop- ‘. ular usage, “race” may mean all of  umanity
(the “human race”), a nationality (the “German race”), or even a group which is mixed in nearly all respects but socially designated as different (the “Jewish race”). Almost any _kind of category of people may be called a “race. Even social scientists have not fully agreed in~defining the term. Some have defined a . race as a group of people separated from other groups by a distinctive combination of physical characteristics. As will be seen later this poses certain difficulties because of intermixing overlapping, and the gradual shading of physical characteristics (skin color) along a continuum without definite reparable Therefore, a “race” is not a biologically distinct-grouping of people, yet many people think and act as though it were. Race is a socially significant reality, for people attach great importance to one’s. presumed “race scientist’s fondness for neat scientific .i precision must be tempered by the need to deal with an important social reality. Perhaps an acceptable definition might read: A race is a group of people somewhat different from other groups ill its combination of inherited physical .characteristics; but race is also substantially determined by popular social definition. It is conventional to divide the human species into three main racial stocks-the Mongoloid (yellow and brown), the Negroid (black), and the Caucasoid (white). Most groups can be placed in one of these three categories, as is shown in Figure 16-1. This figu e also shows that the racial placement of some groups is uncertain because their physical characteristics overlap. For example, the Asian Indians have Mongoloid skin color but Caucasoid facial features; the Ainu of northern Japan have Caucasoid skin color and hair but Mongoloid facial features. A further complication arises from the fact that the races have been busily interbreeding for thousands of years so that nearly all racial groups are considerably intermixed. In recent years, it has become common to refer to Americans with Negroid ancestry as blacks rather than as Negroes. This is not very different, since negro is a Spanish word meaning black. In this textbook, we have generally used the term black, except when reproducing quotations and statistical or historical materials. Sociologists use the term ethnic group to refer to an  kind of group, racial or otherwise which is socially identified as ifferent and has developed its own subculture. In other words an ethnic group is one recognized by society and by itself as a distinct group. Although the distinction is associated with a particular set of ancestors, its identifying marks may be language, religion, geographic location, nationality, physical appearance, or any combination of these. The term is properly applied whenever the group differences are considered  important enough to set off the group 1 from others. Tire Harvard Encyclopedic of American Ethic Groups [Thern strom, 1980] describes a total of 106 ethnic groups in America