Wednesday, August 15, 2007
assessing john rex' "theories of race relations" and sandra wallman's "ethnicity and the boundary process"
A sociology of race relations must begin with unmasking ideologies. This is important because more than the effects of such ideologies, their causes and their operations must be exposed in order to understand the links and the tensions underpinned in race relations.
There is a considerable degree of difficulty in these expositions, considering the difficulty of applying concepts in explaining very fluid phenomena like social relations. Dynamic social constructs could include skin color, which could be exemplified by a black man whose color gets lighter as he gets higher in the demographic ladder. Dynamic social constructs could also show racial discrimination even as no such thing is being intended in theory, except that practice betrays the notion. Dynamic social constructs may also be influenced by certain factors such as colonialism, hence the ideological subjectivity toward the colonizer and against the colonized. This dynamism in social construction explains away why sociology cannot be explained in the way that Marxism or biology can be.
However difficult explaining social relations can get, it shows more sense to explain race in terms of sociology than, say, biology. Ideas in science can actually turn into structure in social relations. In which case, what is simply shown in biology as a mere scientific fact can actually become a subjective thought in terms of sociology.
Sociological schools of thought may be divided into the one who believes in stratification or the horizontal hierarchy of the society. Meanwhile, the other believes in pluralism wherein the society is divided vertically. Any which way, ethnicity contributes to the further stratification or pluralism in societies. Race relations in stratified societies may show the white being on top and as one cascades the hierarchy, the color gets darker. Meanwhile, pluralism offers a theory of segmentation across the strata, which means the society has vertical instead of horizontal division within the society. Pluralistic or hierarchical, the social division shows lack of economic and political equity as it is being linked by a single template.
The other critique points that some distinctions have become an indispensable part of the social groupings. National, cultural, structural, contextual, material, and relational boundaries have become the concern of anthropology. One such concept, race, still finds relevance in terms of social analysis. However, it is a different case for ethnicity, the boundary of which can become variable. This boundary can become transparent as well as permeable.
Structure and process are also juxtaposed. Whereas structure shows the form of the society, organization shows the process which the society undergoes. Structure is shown to be limiting, while organization is shown to show dynamism.
The categorization of people within race and ethnicity can be very limiting. This limitation actually spawn discrimination which the world now is witness to by virtue of associating superior qualities to dominant races while inferior ones to marginalized races. When I come to think about it, all humans just came from one primeval race, so we are all racially connected after all.