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.
Celeste Vaughan Curington and Miliann Kang
This chapter examines how racial and gender ideologies shape and are shaped by scientific understandings of beauty practices via a critical examination of the scholarly discourses on skin lightening. Based on qualitative content analysis of thirty domestic and international scholarly articles on skin lightening and whitening published between 2000 and 2017, the authors found that products in Europe and the United States marketed to white customers were likely to be framed as benign beauty products, with health risks attributed to imported products. In contrast, the use of similar products overseas, particularly in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, were depicted as higher risk and locally sourced. Further, by mapping certain skin-related pathologies onto distinct human bodies, these studies reinforce discredited biological understandings of race. Overall, scientific studies of skin whitening and lightening practices enforce the scientific validation of white/western beauty practices alongside the problematization of similar practices/products when used by non-white or non-western subjects. These studies often recognize the dominance of a white cultural ideal but, rather than tracing its structural and historical determinants, instead pathologize those who aspire to it, often neglecting the dynamics of global white supremacy, marketing, production, and distribution in the global beauty economy that fuel the desire and consumption for these products.
G. Cristina Mora
Racial minority markets today are now multi-million-dollar ventures, but little is known about how these markets develop. This chapter uses the case of Latino media to show how market demands interact with racial narratives to channel the development of ethnoracial market segments. In a nutshell, the case shows that ethnic entrepreneurs exploit stereotypes about racial and consumer differences to build their minority market, but these racialized understandings can also prohibit market growth in the long run. The author contends that the study of racial and ethnic markets presents an important opportunity for economic sociologists to better understand how inequality and institutionalized meaning systems structure consumer markets over time.
Studies on the development of fat stigma in the United States often consider gender, but not race. This chapter adds to the literature on the significance of race in the propagation of fat phobia. I investigate representations of voluptuousness among “white” Anglo-Saxon and German women, as well as “black” Irish women between 1830 and 1890—a time period during which the value of a curvy physique was hotly contested—performing a discourse analysis of thirty-three articles from top newspapers and magazines. I found that the rounded forms of Anglo-Saxon and German women were generally praised as signs of health and beauty. The fat Irish, by contrast, were depicted as grotesque. Building on the work of Stuart Hall, I conclude that fat was a “floating signifier” of race and national belonging. That is, rather than being universally lauded or condemned, the value attached to fatness was related to the race of its possessor.
Geraldine Rosa Henderson and Kathy Zhang
This chapter examines how racialized minorities experience overt and covert discrimination when accessing goods and services. The discrimination varies between outright denial of goods and services and the degradation of the goods and services provided. Using examples in the popular press and a review of the literature of content analyses of court cases, in-depth interviews, and experiments, this chapter also demonstrates how these questions of consumer inequality have been studied and what is yet to be done.
Tiffany D. Joseph
In recent decades, there have been substantial developments in the sociologies of the body and race. However, race has been understudied in sociology of the body at the same time that the sociology of race has not often explored the influence of phenotypical differences on individuals’ experiences and outcomes. Using ethnographic data from interviews with seventy-three Brazilians in Governador Valadares, this chapter illustrates how race and phenotype shape perceptions of Brazilian and American nationality and discrimination in Brazil and the United States. In so doing, the findings show that researchers cannot assess race in each context without incorporating the body. Thus, more theoretical leverage can be gained in each subfield by merging both literatures to better understand the crucial role that the body and race play in racialized societies.
Xavier Casademont Falguera, Òscar Prieto-Flores, and Jordi Feu Gelis
This chapter describes how the migration crisis is constructed in Barcelona taking into consideration the role of political, media, and social movements. The chapter compares the response to the refugee population and to the Romani immigrant population. It argues that not all constructions of refugees as crises align with negative stereotypes and rejection. In the Barcelona case, the political, social, and media actors fostered an explicit action in favor of receiving refugees and put pressure on the central government and European institutions in the EU to attend to their requests. Nevertheless, for the Romani immigrant population, actors emphasized expulsion and rejection.
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.
Between 2015 and 2017, Canada welcomed 49, 810 Syrian refugees, thus meeting the electoral promise made by Liberal candidate Justin Trudeau in the wake of the emotional shock provoked by the photo of drowned toddler Alan Kurdi. Media the world over presented the Canadian initiative as an example that should guide and inspire other countries. This chapter examines Canada’s Syrian refugee resettlement plan to determine whether or not it can serve as an effective blueprint to improve global refugee crises. It combined a rigorous screening process, private sponsoring to build support and defray state costs, and citizen participation on immigration processes.
This chapter outlines a methodological approach to studying the body and embodiment in political and historical sociology. The advantage of incorporating the body into the study of political and historical sociology is that it captures how the body exerts causal effects on political outcomes. In particular, it will show how embodiment explains (1) the importance of affect on the formation of political knowledge, (2) how bodies produce meanings independent of their original construct and persist after the social group dissolves, and (3) a specific connection point between mobilization and the state response to the social movement. To illustrate, this chapter shows how the racially threatening embodied performance was both vital to the Black Panther Party’s success and served as the focal point for elite white and state actors to mobilize against racial equality in the post–civil rights era.
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.