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Those identifying as Chinese earned According to Block and Galabuzi, these inequalities in income are not simply the effect of the time it takes immigrants to integrate into the society and economy. Table Source: Statistics Canada — Census. Catalogue Number XCB Issues of race and ethnicity can be observed through three major sociological perspectives: functionalism, conflict theory, and symbolic interactionism. As you read through these theories, ask yourself which one makes the most sense, and why.

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Is more than one theory needed to explain racism, prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination? In the view of functionalism, racial and ethnic inequalities must have served an important function in order to exist as long as they have. This concept, of course, is problematic. How can racism and discrimination contribute positively to society? Sociologists who adhere to the functionalist view argue that racism and discrimination do contribute positively, but only to the dominant group.

Historically, it has indeed served dominant groups well to discriminate against subordinate groups.

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Slavery, of course, was beneficial to slaveholders. Holding racist views can benefit those who want to deny rights and privileges to people they view as inferior to them, but over time, racism harms society. Outcomes of race-based disenfranchisement — such as poverty levels, crime rates, and discrepancies in employment and education opportunities — illustrate the long-term and clearly negative results of slavery and racism in Canadian society. The close ties promote group cohesion, which can have economic benefits especially for immigrants who can use community contacts to pursue employment.


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They can also have political benefits in the form of political mobilization for recognition, services, or resources by different communities. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Aboriginal residential school survivors or the policy of multiculturalism are examples. Finally, the close ties of racial or ethnic groups also provide cultural familiarity and emotional support for individuals who might otherwise feel alienated by or discriminated against by the dominant society.

Critical sociological theories are often applied to inequalities of gender, social class, education, race, and ethnicity. A critical sociology perspective of Canadian history would examine the numerous past and current struggles between the Anglo-Saxon ruling class and racial and ethnic minorities, noting specific conflicts that have arisen when the dominant group perceived a threat from the minority group. Modern Canada itself can in fact be described as a product of internal colonialism.

While Canada was originally a colony itself, the product of external colonialism, first by the French and then the English, it also adopted colonial techniques internally as it became an independent nation state. Internal colonialism refers to the process of uneven regional development by which a dominant group establishes its control over existing populations within a country. Typically it works by maintaining segregation among the colonized, which enables different geographical distributions of people, different wage levels, and different occupational concentrations to form based on race or ethnicity.

For critical sociology, addressing the issues that arise when race and ethnicity become the basis of social inequality is a central focus of any emancipatory project. Feminist sociologist Patricia Hill Collins b. When we examine race and how it can bring us both advantages and disadvantages, it is important to acknowledge that the way we experience race is shaped, for example, by our gender and class. Multiple layers of disadvantage intersect to create the way we experience race. For example, if we want to understand prejudice, we must understand that the prejudice focused on a white woman because of her gender is very different from the layered prejudice focused on a poor Asian woman, who is affected by stereotypes related to being poor, being a woman, and being part of a visible minority.

For symbolic interactionists, race and ethnicity provide strong symbols as sources of identity. In fact, some interactionists propose that the symbols of race, not race itself, are what lead to racism. Famed interactionist Herbert Blumer suggested that racial prejudice is formed through interactions between members of the dominant group: without these interactions, individuals in the dominant group would not hold racist views.

These interactions contribute to an abstract picture of the subordinate group that allows the dominant group to support its view of the subordinate group, thus maintaining the status quo. An example of this might be an individual whose beliefs about a particular group are based on images conveyed in popular media. These beliefs are unquestioned because the individual has never personally met a member of that group.

A culture of prejudice refers to the idea that prejudice is embedded in our culture. We grow up surrounded by images of stereotypes and casual expressions of racism and prejudice. Consider the casually racist imagery on grocery store shelves or the stereotypes that fill popular movies and advertisements. It is easy to see how someone living in Canada, who may know no Mexican Americans personally, might gain a stereotyped impression from such sources as the Speedy Gonzales cartoon character, Taco Time fast-food restaurants, or Hollywood movies.

Because we are all exposed to these images and thoughts, it is impossible to know to what extent they have influenced our thought processes. Throughout Western history intergroup relations relationships between different groups of people have been subject to different strategies for the management of diversity. The problem of management arises when differences between different peoples are regarded as so insurmountable that it is believed they cannot easily coincide or cohabit with one another. A strategy for the management of diversity refers to the systematic methods used to resolve conflicts, or potential conflicts, between groups that arise based on perceived differences.

How can the unity of the self-group or political community be attained in the face of the divisive presence of non-selves or others? As Richard Day b. The solutions proposed to intergroup relations have ranged along a spectrum between tolerance and intolerance. The most tolerant form of intergroup relations is multiculturalism, in which cultural distinctions are made between groups, but the groups are regarded to have equal standing in society. At the other end of the continuum are assimilation, expulsion, and even genocide — stark examples of intolerant intergroup relations.

Genocide , the deliberate annihilation of a targeted usually subordinate group, is the most toxic intergroup relationship. Historically, we can see that genocide has included both the intent to exterminate a group and the function of exterminating of a group, intentional or not. But how do we understand genocide that is not so overt and deliberate? During the European colonization of North America, some historians estimate that Aboriginal populations dwindled from approximately 12 million people in the year to barely , by the year Lewy, European settlers coerced Aboriginal people off their own lands, often causing thousands of deaths in forced removals, such as occurred in the Cherokee or Potawatomi Trail of Tears in the United States.

Settlers also enslaved Aboriginal people and forced them to give up their religious and cultural practices.

Smallpox, diphtheria, and measles flourished among North American Aboriginal peoples, who had no exposure to the diseases and no ability to fight them. Quite simply, these diseases decimated them. How planned this genocide was remains a topic of contention.


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  • Importantly, genocide is not a just a historical concept, but one practised today. Recently, ethnic and geographic conflicts in the Darfur region of Sudan have led to hundreds of thousands of deaths. As part of an ongoing land conflict, the Sudanese government and their state-sponsored Janjaweed militia have led a campaign of killing, forced displacement, and systematic rape of Darfuri people. A treaty was signed in Expulsion refers to a dominant group forcing a subordinate group to leave a certain area or country. As seen in the examples of the Beothuk and the Holocaust, expulsion can be a factor in genocide.

    However, it can also stand on its own as a destructive group interaction.

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    Expulsion has often occurred historically with an ethnic or racial basis. The Great Expulsion of the French-speaking Acadians from Nova Scotia by the British beginning in is perhaps the most notorious case of the use of expulsion to manage the problem of diversity in Canada. The British conquest of Acadia which included contemporary Nova Scotia and parts of New Brunswick, Quebec, and Maine in created the problem of what to do with the French colonists who had been living there for 80 years.

    In the end, approximately three-quarters of the Acadian population were rounded up by British soldiers and loaded onto boats without regard for keeping families together. Many of them ended up in Spanish Louisiana where they formed the basis of contemporary Cajun culture. Their property and possessions were sold to pay for their forced removal and internment.

    Over 22, Japanese Canadians 14, of whom were born in Canada were held in these camps between and , despite the fact that the RCMP and the Department of National Defence reported there was no evidence of collusion or espionage. In fact, many Japanese Canadians demonstrated their loyalty to Canada by serving in the Canadian military during the war. This was the largest mass movement of people in Canadian history. Segregation refers to the physical separation of two groups, particularly in residence, but also in workplace and social functions.

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    It is important to distinguish between de jure segregation segregation that is enforced by law and de facto segregation segregation that occurs without laws but because of other factors. A stark example of de jure segregation is the apartheid movement of South Africa, which existed from to Under apartheid, black South Africans were stripped of their civil rights and forcibly relocated to areas that segregated them physically from their white compatriots.

    Only after decades of degradation, violent uprisings, and international advocacy was apartheid finally abolished. De jure segregation occurred in the United States for many years after the Civil War. Legislation in Ontario and Nova Scotia created racially segregated schools, while de facto segregation of blacks was practised in the workplace, restaurants, hotels, theatres, and swimming pools. Similarly, segregating laws were passed in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Ontario preventing Chinese- and Japanese-owned restaurants and laundries from hiring white women out of concern that the women would be corrupted Mosher, The reserve system created through the treaty process with First Nations peoples can also be regarded as a form of de jure segregation.

    As was the case in the United States, de jure segregation with the exception of the reserve system was largely eliminated in Canada by the s and s. De facto segregation, however, cannot be abolished by any court mandate. Segregation has existed throughout Canada, with different racial or ethnic groups often segregated by neighbourhood, borough, or parish. The community of Africville was a residentially and socially segregated black enclave in Halifax established by escaped American slaves. As noted at the beginning of the chapter, some urban neighbourhoods like Richmond, Surrey, and Markham are home to high concentrations of Chinese and South Asians.

    Sociologists use segregation indices to measure racial segregation of different races in different areas. The indices employ a scale from 0 to , where 0 is the most integrated and is the least. However, these indices are much lower than those observed in the United States for black populations. In the New York metropolitan area, for instance, the black-white segregation index was 79 for the years — Assimilation describes the process by which a minority individual or group gives up its own identity by taking on the characteristics of the dominant culture. In Canada, assimilation was the policy adopted by the government with the Indian Act, which attempted to integrate the Aboriginal population by Europeanizing them.

    Assimilation was also the policy for absorbing immigrants from different lands through the function of immigration. Canada is a settler nation. With the exception of Aboriginal Canadians, all Canadians have immigrant ancestors. As we saw at the beginning of the chapter, the third wave of immigration following the change of the race-based immigration policy saw increasingly larger proportions of immigrants from non-European countries. Most immigrants are eventually absorbed into Canadian culture, although sometimes after facing extended periods of prejudice and discrimination.

    However, for the rest of the year, other aspects of their originating culture may be forgotten.

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    Cultural differences are erased. Sociologists measure the degree to which immigrants have assimilated to a new culture with four benchmarks: socioeconomic status, spatial concentration, language assimilation, and intermarriage. When faced with racial and ethnic discrimination, it can be difficult for new immigrants to fully assimilate. Language assimilation, in particular, can be a formidable barrier, limiting employment and educational options and therefore constraining growth in socioeconomic status.

    It is represented in Canada by the metaphor of the mosaic, which suggests that in a multicultural society each ethnic or racial group preserves its unique cultural traits while together contributing to national unity.

    Each culture is equally important within the mosaic.