The Social Construction Of Race

1097 Words3 Pages

To understand our existence, we interact with other members of society and develop a set of shared notions, institutions, and structures. Sociology, the systematic study of human society, helps us understand these interactions and developments. In particular, applying the sociological imagination to the social construct of race yields insight into its fallacy and utility. This essay examines the historical origin, functions, and societal implications of race in the United States. I also connect the social construct of race with the writings of Barbara J. Fields, Kingsley Davis, Wilbert E. Moore, Marianne Bertrand, and Sendhil Mullainathan. In a larger context, the social construct of race is a system of schematic classification; race …show more content…

Although we often use race to classify, interact, and identify with various communities, there is a general consensus among scientists that racial differences do not exist. Indeed, biologists such as Joseph Graves state, "the measured amount of genetic variation in the human population is extremely small." Although we often ascribe genetics to the notion of race, there are no significant genetic differences between racial groups. Thus, there is no genetic basis for race. Our insistence and belief in the idea of race as biology, though, underlines the socially constructed nature of race. Racial groupings of people are based on perceived physical similarities (skin color, hair structure, physique, etc.), not genetic similarities. Nevertheless, we are inclined to equate physical similarities with genetics. Sociologists also use a temporality to argue that race is a social construct. The notion of race results from patterns from the signification of certain traits to different groups of people. However, these patterns (and societal notions of race) change over time. For example, the 20th century belief that "In vital capacity… the tendency of the Negro race has been downward" is certainly not commonplace among individuals today. Notions of race also differ across societies. Racial attitudes towards blacks, for example, are inherently different between the United States and Nigeria. These arguments all suggest that race is socially constructed. The lack of a universal notion of race means that it is not a natural, inherent, or scientific human trait. Rather, different societies use race to ordain their respective social

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