Race and Ethnicity: Their Powerful Influence on Society

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Society is defined as people who live in a specific geographic territory, interact with one another, and share many elements of common culture. Within a society there are many components that make up that society. There is crime, culture, social class, gender, marriage and the family, religion, education, medicine and health care, the political order, etc. However, race and ethnicity has a great and powerful influence in society, and has for many years. On the reverse side, society also influences the different races and ethnicities of people. Race is defined as “a group of people who have been singled out on the basis of real or alleged physical characteristics” (Curry, Jiobu, Schwirian 209). Ethnicity is defined as “common cultural characteristics …show more content…

“The main function of ethnic and racial inequality is to ensure the unpleasant but important work gets done” (Curry, Jiobu, Schwirian, 232). The Functionalist theorist of sociology feels that the racial and ethnic minorities have very little job skills. They also feel that every society has jobs that are undesirable to the people in that society. The jobs that give low pay, have poor working conditions, and have little prestige. The minorities don’t have the means to compete for the high paying, desirable jobs, therefore they have to settle for the undesirable jobs. For example, Asian immigrants work in sweatshops and Mexican immigrants act as maids, gardeners, and field hands. That is the function that racial and ethnic inequalities play in society. The Functionalist sees inequality as a beneficial part of societies since all the unpleasant jobs will get done. Many examples of the inequality of race and ethnicity can be found from studying the United States of America’s society. The most notable and highly memorable example is the treatment of African Americans in the United States. Americans started out treating the African Americans very poor and very disrespectfully. They showed clear prejudice and discrimination towards these people. This was shown during the period of African American slavery in the United …show more content…

The African Americans were the minorities; therefore, it was their function to do all the unwanted and filthy jobs that the white Americans didn’t want to do. And with conflict perspective, the Americans are the dominant power and they just kept winning the conflict over the African Americans. By 1865 the conflict ended and slavery was abolished. “No society could withstand the tension inherent in enslaving its own members.” (Finley) What he means is that no society cannot bear the tension of putting its own people into slavery. The American society is a very good example of that. However, that did not end the prejudices and discriminations towards the African American people, or against any other race or ethnicity. After the abolishment of slavery, amendments were passed to give African Americans some rights. However, “regarded by many as second-class citizens, blacks were separated from whites by law and by private action in transportation, public accommodation recreational facilities, prisons, armed forces, and schools in both Northern and Southern states.” (A Century of Racial Segregation 1849-1950) Because of this racial segregation happening in the United States many civil rights leaders

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