This chapter reviews behavioral biological analyses of ethnic solidarity and conflict. The universality of ethnic behavior, including frequent altruism, points to evolutionary origins. This chapter reviews the history of research into ethnicity by ethologists, sociobiologists, and evolutionary psychologists. The biosocial approach is unique in tracing causality back to adaptations, including brain functions and the evolutionary processes that selected them. One such selection process is cultural group strategies in which rules and beliefs adopted by a group help it replace others. The most influential biosocial theory states that ethnic solidarity is nepotism extended to the population. Ethnic nepotism theory and other insights have been fruitful in suggesting research directions. These include ethnic group dominance, superorganism theory applied to ethnic middleman groups, the idea that ethnic trust boosts economic competitiveness by reducing transaction costs, and the finding that ethnocultural diversity increases social conflict. Other research concerns national character.
Chapter abstract The connection between poverty and culture has long been a contentious one in the sociological literature. While distancing itself from the culture of poverty theory of the past, recent scholarship seeks to provide a deeper analysis of the relationship between structure and culture and how this relates to poverty. This chapter argues that the work of Pierre Bourdieu—and the significant body of literature that has built upon his key theories and concepts—offers many of the tools necessary to better understand the connections between poverty, race, and culture that plague the US social landscape and appear as growing problems throughout Europe as well. The chapter concludes by suggesting areas for further theoretical development and discussing a few empirical problems that may be illuminated through extensions of Bourdieu’s concepts.
Douglas S. Massey
This article examines how segregation contributes to the perpetuation of disadvantage over time and across generations. It first traces the historical origins of segregation and reviews early substantive and theoretical work done on the subject at the University of Chicago. It then considers the most commonly used measure of segregation as well as the social mechanisms by which residential segregation is produced, with particular emphasis on the paradigmatic case of African Americans in the twentieth century. It also discusses newer mechanisms that have been advanced to promote racial-ethnic segregation in the twenty-first century and how it fosters socioeconomic inequality through the spatial concentration of poverty. Finally, it describes current levels and trends with respect to both racial and class segregation in cities around the world.
William Julius Wilson
This article examines the political, economic, and cultural factors that contributed to the emergence and persistence of concentrated poverty in black inner cities. It begins with a discussion of the political forces that adversely affected black inner-city neighborhoods, followed by an analysis of impersonal economic forces that accelerated neighborhood decline in the black inner city and increased disparities in race and income between cities and suburbs. It then considers two types of cultural forces that contribute to racial inequality: belief systems of the broader society that either explicitly or implicitly give rise to racial inequality; and cultural traits that emerge from patterns of intragroup interaction in settings created by racial segregation and discrimination. It also assesses the impact of the recent rise of immigration on areas of concentrated urban poverty before concluding with suggestions for a new agenda for America’s inner city poor.