The United States is becoming an increasingly diverse country in regards to race and ethnicity. However, there are many misunderstandings and stereotypes regarding different population groups and the issue of race. Race has many definitions and one description given by Rose is that race is a “biological variation including genetic differences in stature, skin color, hair color, facial shape, and other inherited characteristics that may or may not be mutually exclusive in each individual”(Rose, 2013). Race is often confused with ethnicity which involves a group or individual’s perception of their cultural identity which is inclusive of learned behaviors used by human beings in their natural or social environment for survival (Rose, 2013). Sociologists and other professionals who work in the social sciences consider that race is a socially constructed ideal (Harvard, 2008). The fact that racial categories change from one society to another suggests that race is a social construct (Harvard, 2008). Genetic scientific methods, which are much more precise than past methods for categorizing races, are now being used in the same way that physical appearance was once used to construct theories about why race matters (Harvard, 2008). Sociologists may view this issue from a conflict perspective and theorize that race was created by society in order to justify inequality and benefit those who are more powerful and privileged (Schaefer, 2013). It is important to understand the history and classification of race and examine the biological research investigating race in order to develop a better understanding of what is meant by the social construction of race.
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Mills, C.W. (2013). Is race only a social construct? The Dish Biased and Balanced. http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2013/05/16/is-race-only-a-social-construct/
Powell, J.A. (2003). Interview with John A. Powell; Race: The power of illusion. PBS. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/race/000_About/002_04-background-03-06.htm.
Rose, P.R. (2013). Cultural competency for the health professional. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Schaefer, R.T. (2013). Sociology in modules. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Sills, Stephen J. (2010). Re: The social construction of race [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://uncgsoc101.wordpress.com/module-7-racial-and-ethnic-stratification/part-1/
Smedley, A. (1997). Origin of the idea of race. Anthropology Newsletter. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/race/000_About/002_04-background-02-09.htm
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