Chapter 7: Chapter 7 - Race and Ethnicity

Chapter 7 - Race and Ethnicity

7-1 Defining Race and Intelligence

LO1 - Recognize that race and ethnicity are socially constructed variables rather than biological or cultural constants.

7-1a What Is Race?

  1. Race and intelligence
  2. In the 1920s a UofT prof, Peter Sandiford administered IQ tests and concluded that Canada should have selective immigration to only let the “best come in”
  3. This caused racist behaviour towards certain ethnic and racial groups both in Canada and US
  4. Now: social settings in which a person is raised and educated have a big impact on IQ. The average IQ of members of racial and ethnic groups has nothing to do with biology 
  5. Race and sports 
  6. The idea that races differ biologically is still carried thru society and mainstream media
  7. The idea that black people are in general better at sports due to biological reasons doesn’t take in:
  8. nobody has ever identified genes linked to general athletic superiority.
  9. black athletes do not perform unusually well in many sports, such as swimming, hockey, cycling, tennis, gymnastics, soccer, and equestrian events
  10. sociologists look at its different social conditions that lead to high levels of participation:
  11. people who face more prejudice and discrimination more often enter professional sports to improve their social and economic standing
  12. other avenues of upward mobility tend to be blocked
  13. prejudice: An attitude that judges a person on his or her group’s real or imagined characteristics
  14. discrimination: Unfair treatment of people because of their group membership
  15. the idea that black people are genetically superior to white ppl in athletic ability is created for the idea that black ppl are genetically inferior to white ppl intellectual ability
  16. putting POC in a lesser chance to achieve academic excellence and their chance to achieve upward mobility is put at risk due to them betting only on slight opportunities given thru sports
  17. Racial Mixing
  18. The argument that genes determine the behaviour of racial groups is easily undermined when taking into consideration:
  19. It's impossible to neatly distinguish races based on genetic differences bc of the high level of genetic mixing that takes place
  20. In modern times bc of so much intermixing that race as a biological category has lost all meaning
  21. Many experts believe we all belong to one human race, originated in Africa
  22. A Sociological Definition of Race
  23. race as a sociological concept: valuable analytical tool if people who use the term remember that it refers to socially significant physical differences such as skin colour rather than to biological differences that shape behaviour patterns.
  24. Race as a social construct used to distinguish people in terms of one or more physical markers, usually with profound effects on their lives
  25. Creates the question if the race is merely a social construct and not a useful biological term, why does race matter to distinguish groups of people?
  26. Sociologists believe it matters because it allows social inequality to be created and perpetuated
  27. Scapegoat: A disadvantaged person or category of people whom others blame for their own problems.
  28. Using political troubles or economic problems to go after a minority group
  29. colonialism, slavery, and concentration brought in behavioural differences developed between subordinates and their masters.
  30. Which brought way into a racial stereotype


7-1b Ethnicity, Culture, and Social Structure

  1. The race is to biology as ethnicity is to culture
  2. Ethnic group: Comprises people whose perceived cultural markers are deemed socially significant. Ethnic groups differ from one another in terms of language, religion, customs, values, ancestors, and the like.
  3. ethnic values and other elements of ethnic culture have less of an effect on the way people behave than we commonly believe
  4. Why?  social-structural differences frequently underlie cultural differences.
  5. An example:
  6. Chinese and Korean Canadians and other economically successful groups receive praise for their cultural values, (emphasis on education, family, and hard work)
  7. What people don’t realize is that because of how selective Canada's immigration policy is, it allowed for more literate, urbanized, and skilled Chinese and Korean to arrive in Canada. And although they went thru a lot of discrimination, they were able to use these given skills to build a stronger base
  8. Unlike Indigenous peoples or descendants of slaves due to the high levels of discrimination received and given less access to build upon these skills creating major social-structural disadvantages

7-1c Resources and Opportunities

  1. MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR in determining the economic success of an ethnic or racial group is the resources they possess and economic opportunities that are open.
  2. The 1950s:
  3. Canada shaped by ethnic and racial lines
  4. WASPs (white Anglo-Saxon Protestants) controlled almost all the big corporations in the country and dominated politics, while immigrants who came later received fewer benefits
  5. John Porter:
  6. Founders of modern Canadian sociology said Canada was a vertical mosaic: a highly ethnically and racially stratified society.
  7. Felt these retentions of ethnic and racial culture was a big problem, making it harder for upward mobility for immigrants
  8. Canadian value system encouraged the retention of ethnic culture, making Canada a low-mobility society
  9. The 1970s:
  10. Porter and many more sociologists began to qualify the view that ethnic and racial culture determines economic success or failure
  11. As more events that contradicted their earlier assumptions occurred it became clear that ethnic and racial diversity increased. And besides the prejudices and discrimination, they were increasing economically
  12. Visible minority: A government designation unique to Canada; refers to non-Indigenous people who are “non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour,” including South Asian, Chinese, black, Filipino, Latin American, Arab, Southeast Asian, West Asian, Korean, and Japanese Canadians
  13. most part, visible-minority status has little bearing on educational, occupational, and income attainment in Canada, especially with those born in Canada
  14. EXPECTATIONS:
  15. black men born in Canada continue to face discrimination that significantly impedes their upward mobility, as do Indigenous Canadians
  16. The 1990s – 2010s:
  17. recent immigrants who were members of some visible-minority groups were significantly less successful economically than we would expect given their educational and other resources
  18. little to do with their cultural values
  19.  labour force and housing discrimination are ongoing problems for visible-minority Canadians
  20. Racial and ethnic inequality is more deeply rooted in social structure than in biology.
  21. Besides the resources a person has, it’s the structure of opportunities for economic advancement that brings in upward mobility

7-2 Symbolic Interactionism and the Social Construction of Racial and Ethnic Identity

7-2a Labels and Identity

LO2- -Analyze why racial and ethnic labels and identities change over time and place.

  1. To some degree racial and ethnic identities are fluid
  2. Depending on the particular nature of a person’s relations with members of other racial/ethnic groups will continue to always reshape a person's identity and manner in which they express themselves
  3. Ex:
  4. Enduring change occurs when one attends school in a new country or marries someone from a different racial group
  5. Fleeting change can take place over the course of a day as a person moves from homogeneous to heterogeneous racial and ethnic settings and back again.
  6. E.g. Italian Canadians
  7. symbolic interactionists emphasize the development of racial and ethnic labels and ethnic and racial identities is typically a process of negotiation
  8. outsiders may impose a new label on them
  9.  negotiation between outsiders and insiders eventually results in the crystallization of a new, more/less stable ethnic identity
  10. For example, the case of labelling Indigenous peoples by European settlers
  11. Now: an increasingly large number of Indigenous people began to reject the term “Indian”
  12. Indigenous Canadians prefer to use their tribal names as a re-assertion of pride in their heritage
  13. In Canada the gov distinguishes 3 main groups of Indigenous Canadians for administration purposes:
  14. First nations: Consist of status Indians and non-status Indians.
  15. Status Indians: Indigenous people who live throughout Canada and are registered as Indians under the Indian Act, most of whom belong to a band that signed a treaty with the Crown.
  16. Non-status Indians: Indigenous people who live throughout Canada and were once Status Indians but lost that status
  17. Metis: Canadians of Indigenous and European (usually French) origin who reside mainly in the western provinces and Ontario.
  18. Inuit: Indigenous Canadians who reside in the country’s northern regions.
  19. New and less stable ethnic identities have been negotiated as the power struggle between indigenous peoples and more recent settlers continues
  20. Social contexts change so does the negotiation of ethnic identities

7-2b Choice vs. Imposition

  1. Just bc race/ethnicity are socially constructed doesn’t mean everyone can choose their racial or ethnic identity freely
  2. Canadians w/most the freedom to choose ethnic identity is white people whose ancestors arrived in Canada more than two generations ago
  3. E.g. Irish Canadian
  4. From the stereotypes and discrimination of the 1900’s they can now reach upward mobility easier and no longer find their identity imposed on them
  5. Ethnicity for them is a symbolic matter as it is for most white European groups
  6. Herbert Gans defines symbolic ethnicity: A nostalgic allegiance to the culture of the immigrant generation or that of the old country that is not usually incorporated into everyday behaviour.
  7. Major contrast is shown within Black Canadians who lack the freedom to enjoy symbolic ethnicity
  8. their identity as black people is not optional because a considerable number of non-blacks are racists and impose a black identity on them daily.
  9. Racism: The belief that a visible characteristic of a group, such as skin colour, indicates group inferiority and justifies discrimination
  10. Institutional racism: Bias that is inherent in social institutions and is often not noticed by members of the majority group.
  11. Malcolm X talked about how racial identity can be imposed on ppl
  12. it doesn’t matter to a racist whether a black person is a professor or a panhandler, a genius or a fool, a saint or a criminal. Where racism is common, racial identities are compulsory and therefore at the forefront of a person’s self-identity.

7-3 Conflict Theories of Race and Ethnic Relations

7-3a Colonialism and Internal Colonialism

LO3 - Appreciate that conquest and domination are among the most important forces leading to the crystallization of distinct ethnic and racial identities.

  1. Conflict theorists argue most important mechanisms that have promoted inequality and conflict between racial and ethnic groups is colonialism
  2. Colonialism: Involves people from one country invading and taking political, cultural, and economic control over people in another country.
  3. The process allowed invaders to gain control over the native population and destroy their culture or change it
  4. Invaders believed they were superior to the natives. Now it serves to reinforce ideas abt “inherent” differences
  5. Internal colonialism: Involves one race or ethnic group subjugating another in the same country. It prevents assimilation by segregating the subordinate group in terms of jobs, housing, and social contacts.
  6. Assimilation: The process by which a minority group blends into the majority population and eventually disappears as a distinct people in the larger society.

7-3b Canada’s Indigenous Peoples

  1. Expulsion: is the forcible removal of a population from a territory claimed by another population. This is the single word that best describes the treatment of Aboriginals in Canada.
  2. Genocide: is the intentional extermination of an entire population defined as a race or a people.
  3. Fighting for resources, land and being forced into living in terrible conditions is demonstrated thru countless First Nations experiences with settlers
  4. Many European settlers understood that their actions created the extinction of 1st nation populations in fact they sought to assimilate the 1st
  5. Besides the many forms used prior residential schools were a major step towards cultural genocide
  6. residential schools
  7. These are government schools that forced First Nations children to be separated from their family and prevented from speaking their language, practicing their religion or practicing cultural traditions and to adopt white European culture
  8. The physical abuse became very common in residential schools so was the spread of sexual abuse amongst the children
  9. in fact, very few priests and nuns were charged for the assault they put on the children
  10. driving residential schools First Nations were still depicted as savages who plotted against your pans
  11. residential schools caused generational trauma amongst the First Nation
  12. although over the decades First Nations are doing significantly better both academically and economically; they still experience a wide number of injustices
  13. With all the government apologies First Nations are still fighting for the right of their land to not be abused by government work such as the Idle No More Movement
  14. which focused on the pipeline construction that would damage the environment of indigenous reserves

7-3c The Québécois

  1. Conquest: The forcible capture of land and the economic and political domination of its inhabitants.
  2. Ethnic stratification: Big businesses were owned by the British.
  3. Ethnic stratification created 200 years of political conflict
  4. The British realized any attempt to imposer their language, religion, laws, and institutions on the former French colony could result in a lot of conflicts
  5. tried to accommodate farmers and the Catholic clergy by reinforcing their rights and privileges
  6. British believed this would win the allegiance of these two Canadian groups, who would in turn help to build loyalty to Britain among the population as a whole
  7. Although by the 1950s most farmers have transformed into urban industrial workers, some Quebecois had become physicians lawyers or part of the new middle class but mostly it was populated by the British
  8. because of the political backwardness members of Quebec's new middle class began to campaign to modernize a provincial political system
  9. they demanded that the state provide better infrastructure for economic development assess francophone entrepreneurs and expand their business 
  10. What the modernisation of Québec failed to resolve:
  11. the potential demographic the client: as fewer women were having children a strong feeling of endangerment was around
  12. the assimilation of immigrants into English culture
  13. persistent ethnic stratification
  14. the continued use of English as the language of the private industry
  15.  because the Quebec state did not have the legal authority to enact some of the proposed changes, they felt that the province ought to negotiate broader constitutional powers with the federal government
  16. A large minority of Quebecois went a step further into the separatist movement
  17. pro-independence Parti Québécois won the provincial election in 1976. In 1980, it held a referendum to see whether Quebecers favoured the “sovereignty-association.” Nearly 60 percent voted “no.”
  18.  a second referendum was held in 1995. This time, the forces opposed to sovereignty-association won by the narrowest of margins—about 1 percent

7-3d Black Canadians

  1. a third form of colonial conquest Slavery: is the ownership and control of people.
  2. In the 1960s immigration policy was liberalized. Immigrants were now admitted on the basis of their potential economic contribution to Canada
  3. 1800:
  4. 24 million Africans had been captured and placed on ships to North, Central, and South America
  5. Only fewer than half survived
  6. In Canada, black slaves were bought and sold till the 1820s
  7. true that for decades Canada served as the terminus of the “underground railway,” a network that smuggled escaped slaves out of the United States to freedom in Canada
  8. Martin Luther King, leader of the American civil rights movement spoke abt it in Toronto in 1967
  9. King neglected to mention is that after the American Civil War (1861–65), the Canadian government reversed its practice of allowing black settlement
  10. the policy reflected a deeply felt prejudice on the part of the Canadian population that persisted throughout the twentieth century
  11. until the mid-twentieth century, blacks tended to do unskilled labour and be residentially and socially segregated
  12. Canadian immigration policy was liberalized in the 1960s. Racial and ethnic restrictions were removed
  13. With the influx of new immigrants in recent decades, Canada’s black community has improved significantly
  14. But black Canadians still tend to interact with w/white Canadians of European descent
  15. Black men find employment in highly skilled occupations is still lower than the likelihood of white men attaining such employment
  16.  the aftermath of slavery—prejudice, discrimination, disadvantage, and segregation—continues to act as a barrier to the incorporation of black Canadians as equal partners in Canadian society.

7-3e Split Labour Markets and Asian Canadians

  1. A second theory that focuses on the social-structural barriers to assimilation is the theory of the Split- labour market: Exists where low-wage workers of one race and high-wage workers of another race compete for the same jobs. In that situation, high-wage workers are likely to resent the presence of low-wage workers.
  2. Proposed by Edna Bonacich^
  3. Certain minority groups were allowed into Canada from about the 1850s to the early 1920s for one reason: to provide scarce services and cheap labour in the booming 
  4. 15000 Chinese men were allowed in Canada for construction of the most difficult sections of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR)
  5. Chinese were paid half the wages of white workers.
  6. Three Chinese workers died for every kilometre of track laid.
  7. After the CPR was finished the Chinese were no longer welcomed in BC and would receive a head tax
  8. During the great depression 28k Chinese immigrants were deported due to high unemployment rates
  9. European Canadians formed “exclusion leagues” to pressure the government to restrict Asian immigration, and on occasion, they even staged anti-Asian riots
  10. The theory emphasizes the social-structural roots of race and ethnicity. 
  11. groups that have had most trouble assimilating into the British values and institutions that dominate Canadian society are those that were subjected to genocidal actions, expulsion from their native lands, conquest, slavery, and split labour markets

7-4 Some Advantages of Ethnicity

  1. Conflict theories mostly look at how social forces outside racial or an ethnic group create inequality and bund group members to and the disadvantages of race/ethnicity
  2. Focus less on what they say abt group membership and the internal conditions that promote this
  3. Ethnic communities remain due to rapid pace immigration
  4. 3 main factors that enhance the value of continued ethnic group membership:
  5. Ethnic group membership can have economic advantages.
  6. commonly rely on members of their ethnic group to help them; making immigrant communities tight
  7. strong economic incentives encourage some people to remain ethnic group members, even beyond the immigrant generation
  8. Ethnic group membership can be politically useful
  9. When pierre Trudeau made French and English the official languages of Canada, other ethnic groups felt upset that French was granted this over theirs
  10. In 71 Pierre Trudeau then creates the new policy of multiculturalism
  11. This brought in major support for the liberal party
  12. Ethnic group membership tends to persist because of the emotional support it provides.
  13.  Speaking the ethnic language and sharing other elements of one’s native culture are valuable sources of comfort in an alien environment
  14. Ethnic group membership also offers emotional support thru second gen. providing a sense of rootedness
  15. Transnational communities: Communities whose boundaries extend between or among countries
  16. Provided thru inexpensive travel, and communication within technology

7-5 The Future of Race and Ethnicity in Canada

LO5 - Understand that Canada is among the world’s most tolerant countries and home to persistent racial inequality

  1. As racial and ethnic diversity has increased, Canadian ethnic and race relations have changed
  2. We are a society based on segregation, pluralism, and assimilation
  3. Pluralism: the retention of racial and ethnic culture combined with equal access to basic social resources.



  1. Canada has a reputation to being open to immigration
  2. Growing tolerance certainly does not imply the absence of ethnic and racial discrimination and stratification.
  3. becoming less ethnically and racially stratified from one census to the next
  4. indigenous people remain to be clustered to the bottom of the socioeconomic hierarchy
  5. if the trend of less upward mobility for immigrants continues then it will continue to be alongside racial lines


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