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Can’t we all just get along?

This Morning 

Returning to race and ethnicity

Cultural differences and social divisions

Discriminating institutions

Ethnicity, class and stratification

Our Task Why are there such marked differences in the social fates of different ethnicities in Britain? Is it?  Biological

differences  Direct racism  Institutionalism discrimination  Economic exploitation

The natural and the cultural

Race 

Race is conceptualised as a biological category – the genetic differences that produce individual physical characteristics that are the basis for social categorisation

Yet, there is no such thing as race from a biological perspective

There are bigger differences within ‘racial’ categories than between them

There are physical differences between humans, but these differences become the concept of ‘race’ when they are categorised together

Socialised Bodies 

Race, like sex, is an insufficient explanation for the social differences between peoples

Yet, there are clear differences between peoples, whether we like it or not, and these differences have become divisions

Ethnicity is the main sociological tool for understanding the socially constructed cultural and physical differences between peoples

Ethnicity 

Ethnicity refers to the shared cultural characteristics that distinguish one group from another

Giddens: “Cultural values and norms which distinguish the members of a given group from others. An ethnic group is one whose members share a distinct awareness of a common cultural identity, separating them from other groups around them.”

Ethnic Identity 

Max Weber argued that an ethnicity is a human grouping that shares a belief in their ‘common descent’ on account of physical characteristics and/or common customs and beliefs

Although Weber’s understanding of common descent hints at a return to race, ethnicity does require an identification with commonality with others

Ethnicity is the founded upon the cultural characteristics we share in common with others, as well as the differentiation of ‘our’ group from other cultures

We may not think of these groupings as our ‘ethnicity’, but they often become a point of strong identification: ‘these are my people’

Locations of Ethnic Identity

Ethnicity as Cultural Practice 

Ethnicity may not be natural, as race is assumed to be, but cultural attachments are equally influential

Cultural belonging defines who we are (identification and identity), how we act, how we relate to others and how others relate to us

Cultural differences produce distinct social patterns, but ‘institutional’ social structures strongly influence the cultural reproduction of ethnicity

Cultural Practices

Societal Definitions

Who are ‘your people’ and how do you know?

What are you?

Alternative National Categories


Can ethnic identity be completely separated from biological characteristics?

London Ethnicities In the 2011 census:  ‘White

British’ were 45% of the population (of total 60% white)

 ‘Asian’

made up 20%

 ‘Black’


Finding ethnicity 

Ethnicity may feel like a more abstract idea than the biological foundations of race

We know ethnicity exists, however, because we can observe that there are differences in behaviour between people who identify with different groups 

Different forms of cultural reproduction

There are also different social outcomes for these groups across a wide range of measures 

Different structural pressures

Source: X

From differences to divisions 

Although ethnicity is the very definition of a social difference, there are stark divisions between ethnic groups


If these divisions are not a result of biology, how do they occur?

Racism 

Giddens (2009, p.638) states “[a] racist is someone who believes that some individuals are superior or inferior to others on the basis of racialised differences”

There are a number of modes of racism

Direct Racism 

Direct racism, sometimes know as ‘old racism’, comes through either explicit institutional discrimination (slavery, segregation) or individual acts

Explicit institutional racism is very rare in the developed world

Direct acts of individual racism still occur, but public discourse is extremely sensitive to it and egalitarian social norms have become publicly dominant

Have you witnessed any direct racism?

Participation in Higher Education

University Diversity 

Ethnic minorities tend to be over-represented (16% compared to 14%) in higher education, but there are significant differences within the system

There are more Indian and Chinese, less Bangladeshi and Pakistani, more Black African than Black Caribbean

There are substantial differences within subject area and by university

Is it all white at Oxford?

Applying differences 

‘White’ students with three A*s are more than 20% more likely to be given an offer to study medicine at Cambridge University than if they are from an ethnic minority.

White students applying for medicine who went on to achieve three A*s were 94% more likely to be offered a place at Oxford than those from ethnic minorities.

“Educational Division” 

[Freedom of Information] data also shows that of more than 1,500 academic and lab staff at Cambridge, none are black. 34 are of British Asian origin.

One Oxford college, Merton, has admitted no black students in five years – and just three in the last decade. Eleven Oxford colleges and ten Cambridge colleges made no offers to black students for the academic year beginning autumn 2009.

Oxford's breakdown of its latest undergraduate admissions figures, published on its website, shows that just one black Caribbean student was accepted in 2009, out of 35 applications

Why are there differences in participation in higher education for different ethnicities?

Euro-Elitism and Ethnicity 

A-Level results are only one element of the application process, which also involves interviews at some universities

"Admissions decisions are based on students' ability, commitment and their potential to achieve“

This suggests that subjective judgements are made during the application process, but upon what criteria?

Students from minority groups may lack the cultural capital required, or fail to fit into the social norms expected, in these interview and evaluation sessions

What would you do to respond to this division?

Institutional Racism 

Institutional racism, developed by Stokely Carmichael in USA in the late 1960s, occurs when the structural patterning of society discriminates against minority ethnic groups


Institutional racism moves from the individual to the collective: although individuals within an organisation may not be racist, the way the organisation operates produces racist outcomes


Institutional racism is both a legal construct and a sociological idea

Institutionalised Racism 

Institutional racism occurs when the structural patterning of society discriminates against certain groups

The hegemonic norms of the mainstream culture may discriminate against minorities

Certain forms of cultural practice specific to an ethnicity become the ‘right’ way to act, rather than being cultural constructions

This includes racial profiling and stereotyped media representations that reproduce interpersonal discrimination

More influentially, class issues such as income, education and housing reproduce divisions between ethnic groups without any direct discrimination

Stephen Lawrence 

Stephen Lawrence was an 18-year old Black British man who was killed in South-East London in 1993

The case was not initially solved and, following a public enquiry in 1998, the Metropolitan Police Force was concluded to be institutionally racist, which (legally): “can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes, and behaviour, which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness, and racist stereotyping, which disadvantages minority ethnic people"

Racism, continued? 

It is argued that, despite this inquiry, institutional racism continues in the Metropolitan Police

As well as the inequalities in stop and searches, BME groups are significantly unrepresented in the police force, although they are improving

10% of the Metropolitan Police are BME, compared to 40% of the London population

85% of those interviewed by the LSE ‘Reading the Riots’ (2012) research who were directly involved in the 2011 riots cited policing as a major issue

Why would BME groups be under-represented in the police? Does it matter?

Ethnicity and Riots 

Whilst the 2011 riots were not specifically ‘race riots’, there are suggestions that half the rioters were black and many of the areas where there was rioting are predominately black

Media representations focused on worklessness among youth ‘sub-cultures’, as well as ‘pure criminality’ (Cavanagh and Dennis, 2012)

Other suggest that ethnicity was not the central issue, but was highlighted by common social exclusion

Understanding the London Riots 

Reading the Riots concluded that:  Analysis

of more than 1,000 court records suggests 59% of the England rioters come from the most deprived 20% of areas in the UK.  Other analysis carried out by the Department for Education and the Ministry of Justice on young riot defendants found 64% came from the poorest fifth of areas – and only 3% came from the richest fifth.  40% of those arrested were classified as Black, 37% white and 6% Asian

Causing the riots 

There was considerable media debate about the rioters lack of ‘cause’

The rioters themselves identified a perceived lack of respect from the police as highly influential, particularly patterns in police searches

Tottenham MP David Lammy has argued that fatherlessness was a primary contributor to the violence 

Up to 65% of British Caribbean children are raised by solo parents, but this is strongly related to class differences

Why might have ‘black’ people been over-represented in the 2011 riots?

Intersectionality 

Stratification and exclusion cannot simply be attributed to a single cause

In examining class, gender and ethnicity we considering how multiple forms of difference create divisions

The interaction between these factors is called ‘intersectionality’

Ethnicity and Stratification 

Institutionalised racism returns us to class and the question of stratification

Is ethnicity more effective than class and gender for explaining differences between people in London and the UK?

More specifically, does ethnicity explain inequality more effectively?

Returning to the economic 

Historical stratification, from slave trading to colonisation and migration, has resulted in substantial class divisions between ethnic groups

Many minority groups entered society as immigrant workers, taking on jobs unwanted by locals

Many of the inequalities experienced by minority groups are linked to class

Income and Ethnicity

Unemployment Almost half of all young black men available for work in the UK are unemployed

Income and crime 

A significant range of evidence shows that violent crime is linked to inequality

Two-thirds of prisoners were unemployed in the four weeks before imprisonment.

Nearly three-quarters of prisoners were in receipt of benefits immediately before entering prison.

Source: Prison population statistics (2012)

Marx and Racism 

Minority groups lie predominately in the working class within Western nations, and non-developed countries are generally not European

Consequently, the same processes that reproduce class relations create divisions between ethnicities, and the resentment of the under-classes

Moreover, racism prevents the development of solidarity between workers

Marx argued that we are unable to perceive our class interests because we are divided by cultural characteristics

To what extent can economic factors explain divisions between ethnic groups?

Summary 

Sociologists make a strong distinction between biological conceptions of race and cultural ethnicity

Whilst ethnicity appears to be a social difference, it operates as a strong and persistent division

Racial discrimination can be produced through cultural practices, institutional factors or economic structures


Hyde, M. (2006) Disability. In G. Payne (Ed.) Social Divisions (second edition), Basingstoke: Macmillan. Payne, J., Payne, G. and Bond, M. (2006) Health. In G. Payne (Ed.) Social Divisions (second edition), Basingstoke: Macmillan.

Race and ethnicity  
Race and ethnicity