Study Questions: Chapter 8
1. Define race and racialization. How do these differ?
Answer: The term “race” was first applied to humans in the context of European colonial expansion during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Use of the term reflects beliefs about biological superiority and inferiority in the context of colonial power. Racialization is a social process in which groups of people are viewed and judged as essentially different in terms of their intellect, their morality, their values, and their innate worth because of differences in physical appearance or cultural heritage. (pp. 199–200)
2. What is primordialism? How does it differ from instrumentalism?
Answer: Primordialism (also known as essentialism) is the view that every ethnic group is made up of a “laundry list” of traits that have been carried down from the past to the present with little or no change. Instrumentalism focuses on emerging ethnicity rather than on long-established ethnic characteristics. It acknowledges that elites can mobilize others who identify with them ethnically. Ethnic identification and action come from a competition for scarce resources for and by the elite. (pp. 212, 213, 216)
3. What is the vertical mosaic?
Answer: The best-known book of Canadian sociology is The Vertical Mosaic: An Analysis of Social Class and Power in Canada (1965) by John Porter (1921–1979). Porter’s title derives from the often-stated notion that Canadian society more closely resembles a “cultural mosaic” than a “melting pot.” Porter’s vertical mosaic refers to a hierarchy, or ranking, of higher and lower ethnic, cultural, and religious groups. To keep with the metaphor of the mosaic, Porter found that the different tiles were stacked, not placed evenly, with the tiles representing white Anglo-Saxon Protestants on top. (p. 219)
4. What are W.E.B. DuBois and Daniel G. Hill known for?
Answer: W.E.B. Du Bois (1868–1963) was the first African-American sociologist. He researched and wrote about the major problems and concerns of Africans, both those living in the United States and those living in the rest of the world. He was a “pan-Africanist,” one who sees the connection between the oppression or success of Africans and that of their descendants around the world. Daniel G. Hill is considered the first black Canadian sociologist. In 1962, Hill became the first full-time director of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, and 10 years later, he became Ontario Human Rights Commissioner. (pp. 219-220)
5. Explain what intersectionality theory is and what its origins are.
Answer: Intersectionality is an important word in current sociological research. It refers to the way different social factors—particularly ethnicity and gender, but also sexuality, class, age, and so on—combine to shape the experience of a minoritized group. It recognizes that, for instance, the discrimination and prejudice experienced by a young black woman is different to the discrimination and prejudice experienced by a man who is black. Intersectionality theory was first developed in the context of black feminist thought by Kimberlé Crenshaw (b. 1959), and then elaborated shortly thereafter by critical sociologist Patricia Hill Collins (b. 1948) in her landmark work, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment (1990). (p. 221)
6. Describe each of the different types of racism in Canada.
Answer: Racism can be understood as the product of four linked elements. The first is racialization, the construction of certain groups of people as biologically superior or inferior. This fosters ideas of relative worth and quality, which leads to the second element, prejudice, the “pre-judgement” of others on the basis of their group membership. The third element is discrimination, which includes acts by which individuals are treated differently—rewarded or punished—based on their group membership. Finally, there is power, which is manifested when institutionalized advantages are regularly handed to one or more groups over others. (pp. 204–205)
7. Discuss the equation “Racism=Power + Prejudice.”
Answer: “People of color are not racist because they do not systematically benefit from racism. And equally important, there is no systematic cultural and institutional support or sanction for the racial bigotry of people of color. In my view, reserving the term racist only for behaviors committed by Whites in the context of a White-dominated society is a way of acknowledging the ever-present power differential afforded Whites by the culture and institutions that make up the system of advantage and continue to reinforce notions of White superiority.” (Tatum 2003: 10) (p. 205)