Dr. John Lamberton, Clinical Sociologist
Putting Sociology to Work


Cultural Anthropology:  RACE & ETHNICITY

Proprietary Lecture Notes


      A race refers to a category of people who share certain inherited physical characteristics, such as skin color, facial features, and stature. A key question about race is whether it is more of a biological category or a social category that is even relevant or useful.   With that said, race has served as a “premier source of human identity” (Smedley, 1998, p. 690).

Jeff Lamberton - Steve King - Dr. John Lamberton, racing pigeon fanciers & close friends.

Everyone has a racial identity. Sometimes white racial identity is seen as the “default” and people mistakenly think only minorities (African-American, Latino/Hispanic, Native American, Asian) have a race. It is important to emphasize that all people have experiences with race, whether they are overt, hidden, unconscious or implied. People might experience those encounters directly, witness them happening to others, or have opportunities, or privileges, as a result of their racial identity. This is quote is from Jinnie Spiegler, the director of curriculum at the Anti-Defamation League.

Carlos A. Hoyt, Jr.


An ethnic group is a collection of people distinguished, by others or by themselves, primarily on the basis of cultural or nationality characteristics. Example

Ethnic groups share five main characteristics:

      1. unique cultural traits, such as language, clothing, holidays, or religious practices
      2.a sense of community
      3.a feeling of ethnocentrism
      4.ascribed membership from birth
      5.territoriality, or the tendency to occupy a distinct geographic area by choice and/or for self-protection

Prejudice is a negative attitude based on misconceptions about members of   specific racial, ethnic, or other groups.

Stereotypes are overgeneralizations about the appearance, behavior, or other characteristics of members of particular categories.  Example


Racism is a set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices that is used to justify the superior treatment of one racial or ethnic group and the inferior treatment of another racial or ethnic group. ExampleExample

Symbolic interactionists see prejudice as resulting from social learning. Contact between people from divergent groups should lead to favorable attitudes and behavior when certain factors are present.

Authoritarian personality is characterized by excessive conformity, submissiveness to authority, intolerance, insecurity, a high level of superstition, and rigid, stereotypic thinking.  Example

Discrimination involves actions or practices of dominant-group members (or their representatives) that have a harmful effect on members of a subordinate group.

Example (employment) - Example (types of discrimination) - Example   

Individual discrimination consists of one-on-one acts by members of the dominant group that harm members of the subordinate group or their property.

Institutional discrimination consists of the day-to-day practices of organizations and institutions that have a harmful effect on members of subordinate groups.

Assimilation is a process by which members of subordinate racial and ethnic groups become absorbed into the dominant culture.

Ethnic pluralism is the coexistence of a variety of distinct racial and ethnic groups within one society.

Segregation is the spatial and social separation of categories of people by race, ethnicity, class, gender, and/or religion.


The deliberate, systematic killing of an entire people or nation is called genocide Ethnic warfare