Racial and ethnic groups

There are three sociological perspectives of race and ethnicity which are functionalist, conflict, and labeling perspectives. The first one I will discuss is the functionalist perspective. The functionalist perspective emphasizes how the parts of society are structured to maintain its stability. As also described in the reading the functionalist approach is an approach, if an aspect of social life does not contribute to a society’s stability or survival, it will not be passed on from one generation to the next.

The functionalist perspective thinks that racial hostility is hard to be admired but the functionalist would point out that it serves some positive functions from the perspective group of the racists as described. In the dominant group there are five functions that racial beliefs have for the dominant group. As described they are the following:

1. A society that practices discrimination fails to use the resources of all individuals. Discrimination limits the search for talent and leadership to the dominant group.

2. Discrimination aggravates social problems such as poverty, delinquency, and crime and places the financial burden of alleviating these problems on the dominant group.

3. Society must invest a good deal of time and money to defend the barriers that prevent the full participation of all members.

4. Racial prejudice and discrimination undercut goodwill and friendly diplomatic relations between nations. They also negatively affect efforts to increase global trade. 5. Social change is inhibited because change may assist a subordinate group. 6. Discrimination promotes disrespect for law enforcement and for the peaceful settlement of disputes.

The second perspective is the conflict perspective which is the perspective assumes that the social structure is best understood in terms of conflict or tension between competing groups. As described in the reading society is a struggle between the privileged (the dominant group) and the exploited (the subordinate group). There is competition that takes groups between groups with unequal amounts of political and economic powers.

A difference is that functionalists are not necessarily in favor of inequality; their approach is helps to understand why such systems persist as described. The subordinate group is criticized for its low status. The dominant group is responsible for subordination which is often ignored.

The third approach is the labeling approach. The labeling theory which is described in the reading is a concept introduced by sociologist Howard Becker, is an attempt to explain why certain people are viewed as deviant and other engaging in the same behavior are not. As said in the reading a crucial aspect of the relationship between dominant and subordinate groups is the prerogative of the dominant group to define society’s values. Minorities are believed to have the lack of ability to perform in important positions where subordinate group are locked into society’s inferior jobs.

I feel that I can agree with the labeling perspective the most. The reason for this is that it still exists in today’s society. Companies are required to provide equal opportunity employment and cannot discriminate against religion, race, or age. We know that this is still not true. You see that most police officers and firefighters are still mostly men. You still see large amounts of families have stay at home mothers. Another example would believe that if a child is bad in school that it has to be his or her parents that make them that way. I believe that it truly is still an issue among individuals.

Part II I choose African Americans and the creation of migration and the consequence of segregation. Migration is defined as a general term that describes any transfer of population. Segregation is described the physical separation of two groups, often imposed on a subordinate group by the dominant group.

According to Wikipedia I choose The Great Migration. As described it was the movement of 2 million African American out of the Southern United States to the Midwest, Northeast, and West from 1910 to 1930. They migrated to escape racism and seek employment opportunities in industrial cities.

When the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863 less than eight percent of the African American population lived in the northeastern or Midwestern U.S. As described, “Between 1910 and 1930, the African American population grew by about 40% in Northern states, mostly in the major cities. Cities such as Chicago, Detroit, New York, and Cleveland had some of the biggest increases in the early part of the century.

Because changes were concentrated in cities, urban tensions rose as African Americans and new or recent European immigrants, both groups chiefly from rural societies, competed for jobs and housing with the white ethnic working class. Tensions were often most severe between ethnic Irish, defending their positions, and recent immigrants and blacks.” “African Americans moved as individuals or small family groups.

There was no government assistance, but often northern industries, such as the railroads, meatpacking and stockyards, recruited people. The primary factor for migration was the racial climate and widespread violence of lynching in the South. In the North, they could find better schools and adult men could vote (joined by women after 1920). Burgeoning industries meant there were job opportunities.” (Wikipedia, 2010)

This in turn caused African Americans to feel segregated and felt they had to be among other African Americans do to how they are treated. There were many fights and riots among different cultural groups due to segregation. Such as the example of African Americans who could not sit in the front of the bus because of their race. In today’s society this is ethnically not acceptable.

References: Wikipedia. (2010, October 15). Wikipedia.org. Retrieved October 23, 2010, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Migration_(African_American)