Chapter 11. Race and Ethnicity

Chapter 11 Resources and Activities

Key Terms

achieved status: A status  received through individual effort or merits (e.g., occupation, educational level, moral character, etc.).ancestry:  (in a biological usage) the connection between human variations and the historical-geographical origins of an individual or group’s  ancestors.

ascribed status: A status received by virtue of being born into a category or group (e.g., hereditary position, gender, race, etc.).

assimilation: The process by which a minority individual or group takes on the characteristics of the dominant culture.

BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour.

conquest: The forcible subjugation of territory and people by military action.

discrimination: Prejudiced action against a group of people.

dominant: Can be used interchangeably with the term majority.

dominant group: A group of people who have more power in a society than any of the subordinate groups.

equality of opportunity: A situation in which everyone in a society has an equal chance to pursue economic or social rewards.

ethical relativism: The idea that all cultures and all cultural practices have equal value.

ethnicity: A shared cultural heritage — the distinctive practices, beliefs and way of life of a group.

ethnocentrism: Evaluating another culture according to the standards of one’s own culture.

exogamy: Refers to marriage outside of the group (community, tribe, ethnicity, etc.).

expulsion: When a dominant group forces a subordinate group to leave a certain area or the country.

five race theory: The idea that humans can be categorized into five racial categories: African, European, Asian, Oceanic, and Native American.

genocide: The deliberate annihilation of a targeted (usually subordinate) group.

group-specific rights: Rights conferred on individuals by virtue of their membership in a group.

hybridity: The process by which different racial and ethnic groups combine to create new or emergent cultural forms and practices.

identity: a shared self-perception or self-ascription of an individual or community as belonging to a distinct group based on ethnic, racial, religious, geographical or other characteristics.

institutional racism: When a societal system has developed with an embedded disenfranchisement of a group.

internal colonialism: The process of uneven regional development by which a dominant group establishes control over existing populations within a country by maintaining segregation of ethnic and racial groups.

intersection theory: A theory that suggests that the effects of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and other attributes on social status compound one another.

minority group: Any group of people who are singled out from others for differential and unequal treatment.

miscegenation: The blending of different racialized groups through sexual relations, procreation, marriage, or cohabitation.

model minority: The stereotype applied to a minority group that is seen as reaching higher educational, professional, and socioeconomic levels without protest against the majority establishment.

multiculturalism: The recognition of cultural and racial diversity and of the equality of different cultures.

orientalism: the practice of projecting exotic characteristics onto “Asia,” “the East” or “the Orient” that are said to be the opposite of Western characteristics.

prejudice: Biased thought based on flawed assumptions about a group of people.

primitivism: The practice of projecting “savagery” or premodern characteristics onto Indigenous and racialized peoples around the globe.

racial profiling: The selection of individuals for greater surveillance, policing, or treatment on the basis of racialized characteristics.

racial steering: When real estate agents direct prospective homeowners toward or away from certain neighbourhoods based on their race.

racialization: The social process by which certain social groups are marked for unequal treatment based on perceived physiological differences.

racism: A set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices used to justify the belief that one racial category is somehow superior or inferior to others.

representation: The process by which meaning is produced and circulated in a society through the use of language, signs and images to stand in for, or re-present, things.

segregation: The physical separation of two groups, particularly in residence, but also in workplace and social functions.

settler society: A society historically based on colonization through foreign settlement and displacement of Indigenous inhabitants.

stereotypes: Oversimplified ideas about groups of people.

stigma: a mark or attribute regarded as deeply discrediting.

strategy for the management of diversity: A systematic method used to resolve conflicts, or potential conflicts, between groups that arise based on perceived differences.

subaltern groups: Groups whose identity is defined by cultural subordination.

subordinate group: A group of people who have less power than the dominant group.

systemic racism:  Overlapping and mutually reinforcing structures of racial discrimination systematically embedded within and between organizations and institutions.

White privilege: The benefits people receive simply by being part of the dominant group of racialized “whites.”

White supremacy: The doctrine that non-White groups are inferior and that racial discrimination, segregation, and domination is therefore justified.

visible minority: Persons, other than Indigenous persons, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-White in colour.

Section Summary

11.1 Racial, Ethnic, and Minority Groups
Race is fundamentally a social construct. Ethnicity is a term that describes shared culture and national origin. Minority groups are defined by their lack of power.

11.2 Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination
Stereotypes are oversimplified ideas about groups of people. Prejudice refers to thoughts and feelings, while discrimination refers to actions. Racism refers to the belief that one race is inherently superior or inferior to other races.

11.3 Theories of Race and Ethnicity
Functionalist views of race study the role dominant and subordinate groups play to create a stable social structure. Critical sociologists examine power disparities and struggles between various racial and ethnic groups. Interactionists see race and ethnicity as important sources of individual identity and social symbolism. The concept of culture of prejudice recognizes that all people are subject to stereotypes that are ingrained in their culture.

11.4 Intergroup Relations and the Management of Diversity
Intergroup relations range from a tolerant approach of pluralism to intolerance as severe as genocide. In pluralism, groups retain their own identity. In assimilation, groups conform to the identity of the dominant group. In assimilation, groups combine to form a new group identity.

11.5 Race and Ethnicity in Canada
The history of the Canadian people contains an infinite variety of experiences that sociologists understand follow patterns. From the Indigenous people who first inhabited these lands to the waves of immigrants over the past 500 years, migration is an experience with many shared characteristics. Most groups have experienced various degrees of prejudice and discrimination as they have gone through the process of assimilation.


Quiz: Race, ethnicity, and discrimination

11.1 Racial, Ethnic, and Minority Groups

  1. The racial term “Black Canadian” can refer to                                                 .
    1. A Black person living in Canada.
    2. People whose ancestors came to Canada through the slave trade.
    3. A White person who originated in Africa and now lives in Canada.
    4. Any of the above.
  2. What is the one defining feature of a minority group?
    1. Self-definition
    2. Numerical minority
    3. Lack of power
    4. Strong cultural identity
  3. Ethnicity describes shared                   .
    1. Beliefs.
    2. Language.
    3. Religion.
    4. Any of the above.
  4. Which of the following is an example of a numerical majority being treated as a subordinate group?
    1. Jewish people in Germany
    2. Creoles in New Orleans
    3. White people in Brazil
    4. Blacks under apartheid in South Africa
  5. Scapegoat theory shows that                                                 .
    1. Subordinate groups blame dominant groups for their problems.
    2. Dominant groups blame subordinate groups for their problems.
    3. Some people are predisposed to prejudice.
    4. All of the above.

11.2 Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination

  1. Stereotypes can be based on                   .
    1. Race.
    2. Ethnicity.
    3. Gender.
    4. All of the above.
  2. What is discrimination?
    1. Biased thoughts against an individual or group
    2. Biased actions against an individual or group
    3. Belief that a race different from yours is inferior
    4. Another word for stereotyping
  3. Which of the following is the best explanation of racism as a social fact?
    1. It needs to be eradicated by laws.
    2. It is like a magic pill.
    3. It does not need the actions of individuals to continue.
    4. None of the above

11.3 Theories of Race and Ethnicity

  1. As a Caucasian in Canada, being reasonably sure that you will be dealing with authority figures of the same race as you is a result of                              .
    1. Intersection theory.
    2. Conflict theory.
    3. White privilege.
    4. Multiculturalism.
  2. The Speedy Gonzales cartoon character is an example of                              .
    1. Intersection theory.
    2. Stereotyping.
    3. Interactionist view.
    4. Culture of prejudice.

11.4 Intergroup Relations and the Management of Diversity

  1. Which intergroup relation displays the least tolerance?
    1. Segregation
    2. Assimilation
    3. Genocide
    4. Expulsion
  2. What doctrine justified legal segregation in the American South?
    1. Jim Crow
    2. Plessey v. Ferguson
    3. De jure
    4. Separate but equal
  3. What intergroup relationship is represented by the “mosaic” metaphor?
    1. Assimilation
    2. Pluralism
    3. Expulsion
    4. Segregation
  4. Assimilation is represented by the                               metaphor.
    1. Melting pot
    2. Mosaic
    3. Salad bowl
    4. Separate but equal

11.5 Race and Ethnicity in Canada

  1. What makes Indigenous Canadians unique as a subordinate group in Canada?
    1. They are the only group that experienced expulsion.
    2. They are the only group that was segregated.
    3. They are the only group that was enslaved.
    4. They are the only group that did not come here as immigrants.
  2. Which subordinate group is often referred to as the “model minority?”
    1. Black Canadians
    2. Asian Canadians
    3. White ethnic Canadians
    4. First Nations
  3. Which federal act or program was designed to address Québécois nationalism?
    1. Official Languages Act
    2. The Treaty of Utrecht
    3. The Multiculturalism Act
    4. The repatriation of the Constitution
  4. The Komagata Maru incident affected which visible minority?
    1. Métis
    2. Japanese
    3. South Asians
    4. Chinese
  5. Which of the following groups is not considered a visible minority in Canada?
    1. The Issei
    2. Somali Canadians
    3. Sikhs
    4. Indigenous Canadians

[Quiz answers at end of chapter]

Short Answer

11.1 Racial, Ethnic, and Minority Groups

  1. Why do you think the term “minority” has persisted when the word “subordinate” is more descriptive?
  2. How do you describe your ethnicity? Do you include your family’s country of origin? Do you consider yourself multiethnic? How does your ethnicity compare to that of the people you spend most of your time with?

11.2 Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination

  1. How does racial stereotyping contribute to institutionalized racism?
  2. Give an example of stereotyping that you see in everyday life. Explain what would need to happen for this to be eliminated.

11.3 Theories of Race and Ethnicity

  1. Give three examples of White privilege. Do you know people who have experienced this? From what perspective?
  2. What is the worst example of intersection theory you can think of? What are your reasons for thinking it is the worst?

11.4 Intergroup Relations and the Management of Diversity

  1. Do you believe immigration laws should foster an approach of pluralism, assimilation, or amalgamation? Which perspective do you think is most supported by current Canadian immigration policies?
  2. Which intergroup relation do you think is the most beneficial to the subordinate group? To society as a whole? Why?

11.5 Race and Ethnicity in Canada

  1. In your opinion, which group had the easiest time coming to this country? Which group had the hardest time? Why?
  2. Which group has made the most socioeconomic gains? Why do you think that group has had more success than others?

Further Research

11.1 Racial, Ethnic, and Minority Groups
Explore aspects of the contemporary debate over racial identity and genomic markers in Vivian Chou’s (2017) How Science and Genetics are Reshaping the Race Debate of the 21st Century on the Harvard University website.

11.2 Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination

Explore the concept of White privilege with this White privilege checklist [PDF] from the Alliance of Local Service Organizations (ALSO) website (2015) to see how much of it holds true for you or others. [This checklist was adapted from Peggy McIntosh, 1989]

11.3 Theories of Race and Ethnicity
Watch this short video intersectionality 101 by Learning for Justice (2016) on YouTube to explore the basics behind the concept.

11.4 Intergroup Relations and the Management of Diversity
Read more about multiculturalism in a world perspective at the Multiculturalism Policies in Contemporary Democracies (n.d.) on the Queen’s University website

11.5 Race and Ethnicity in Canada
Are people interested in reclaiming their ethnic identities? Read this article,”The White Ethnic Revival,” by Matthew Frye Jacobson (n.d.) on the George Washington University History News Network website and decide for yourself!


11.0 Introduction Race and Ethnicity

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Wortley, S., & Tanner, J. (2004). Racial profiling in Canada: Survey evidence from Toronto. The Canadian Review of Policing Research, 1(1), 24–36.

Solutions to Section Quiz

1 D, | 2 C, | 3 D, | 4 D, | 5 B, | 6 D, | 7 B, | 8 C, | 9 C, | 10 B, | 11 C, | 12 D, | 13 B, | 14 A, | 15 D, | 16 B, | 17 A, | 18 C, | 19 D, [Return to quiz]


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Introduction to Sociology – 3rd Canadian Edition by William Little is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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