Take Home Questions

Take Home Questions Sociology 103 Take Home Questions 1. Ethnic stratification is a rank order of groups, each made up of people with presumed common cultural or physical characteristics interacting in patterns of dominance and subordination. To begin with, all systems of ethnic stratification are products of the contact of previously separated groups. Initial contact may be in the form of conquest, annexation, voluntary immigration, or involuntary immigration. Following contact, groups engage in competition, view one another ethnocentrically, and, ultimately, one imposes its superior power over the others, emerging as the dominant group. Ethnic stratification systems are created by the movement of people across national boundaries, usually bringing with them different languages and cultural systems, or by the establishment of new political boundaries.

Multiethnic societies are formed through one or a combination of several contact patterns. The first factor critical to the emergence of ethnic stratification or inequality is Conquest. Conquest is a form of contact in which people of one society subdue all or part of another society and take on the role of the dominant group. European colonialism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries best exemplifies this pattern. The next factor to the emergence of ethnic stratification is Annexation. It is a political occurrence in which a part or possibly all of one society is incorporated into another.

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If a gathered society has a dominant group, then the ethnic groups within that society become subordinate at the point that sovereignty is transferred. Such annexation may occur in a peaceful or a violent manner. Following annexation, the most common patterns by which ethnic groups come into contact involve immigration. The immigration of peoples from one society to another may be either voluntary or involuntary. The chief source of ethnic heterogeneity in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand has been voluntary immigration.

The chief objective of people who emigrate from their home society is ordinarily economic betterment though sometimes political or religious considerations play an important role. Demographers who study migration patterns refer to factors of push and pull that motivate people to leave their original society and migrate to one that promises improved conditions of life. The pull happens in times of economic hardship, people will be encouraged to emigrate if they perceive more favorable economic opportunities in another society. Depressed economic conditions, involving minimal job opportunities and low wages, along with a low expectation of betterment of such conditions, constitute the push. Additional push factors were the increase in evictions by landlords and the unlikelihood of any major political changes that would have improved the economic situation. On the pull side, the most appealing societies were those in need of unskilled labor, like the United States and Canada, which were then in the primary stages of industrialization.

Finally, Involuntary immigration involves the forced transfer of peoples from one society to another. Such forced movements are best exemplified by the slave trade of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, which brought millions of blacks from Africa to work the cotton and sugar plantations of the United States, Brazil, and the West Indies. Liebersons theory is that the nature by which diverse ethnic groups initially meet has been shown to be a critical factor in explaining the emergence of ethnic inequality and the specific patterns it subsequently takes. He distinguishes two major types of contact situations. The first type, migrant superordination, is illustrated by various colonial conquests in which a technologically and organizationally more powerful migrant group subdues the native population. The second, indigenous superordination, is characteristic of most voluntary and involuntary immigrations such as those to North America; in these cases, the arriving groups are initially made subordinate to a resident dominant group. Lieberson maintains that long-term conflict is more likely in societies where the indigenous population at initial contact is subordinate. Native groups less powerful than the arriving colonials are left with few options other than resistance to the new social order imposed on them.

This hostility is further strengthened when the conquering group, over time, becomes itself an indigenous group. It is the relative power of the migrant and indigenous groups that determines the eventual nature of ethnic stratification in each of these situations. Where an invading group is successful in dominating the native population, the political and economic systems of the new group are imposed, and warfare and general conflict are likely to result quickly. Situations in which the native group wields greater power and immigrant groups enter as subordinates produce less overt conflict initially. The indigenous group retains control over the size and character of immigration and may encourage quick assimilation, as in the case of most European immigrants to the United States.

Furthermore, conflict is diminished by the fact that if the immigration is voluntary, dissatisfied immigrants may return to their society of origin. Although the nature of initial group contact my be important in giving rise to and shaping the eventual system of ethnic stratification, Donald Noel has pointed three additional factors in 1968. They are ethnocentrism, competition for scarce societal resources, and an unequal distribution of power. On initial contact, divergent groups will judge each other in terms of their own culture, ethnocentrically. Given the nature of ethnocentrism, these evaluations will usually be negative. The negative judgments will depend on the degree of difference between the groups: The more dissimilar they are, the more negative the judgment.

When culturally dissimilar groups meet, then, ethnocentrism can be expected to typify intergroup attitudes. However, ethnocentrism alone is not sufficient to produce ethnic stratification. Groups may view one another negatively without the necessary emergence of dominant-subordinate relations among them. An additional prerequisite is competition, structured along ethnic lines. Noel poses that the more intense the competition, the greater the likelihood of the emergence of ethnic stratification.

When groups strive for the same scarce resources, their interrelations take on the characteristics of competition and conflict. Within the competitive arena, those groups with the greatest capacity to adapt to the social and physical environment will end up higher in the ethnic hierarchy. Differential power among the various groups is the final prerequisite for the development of ethnic stratification. Unless one can overpower another, there is no basis for a stable rank order of ethnic groups, even if there is competition and ethnocentrism among them. When there is a particularly wide power gap between competing and ethnocentric groups, the emergent stratification system is likely to be quite durable. Power breeds more power and once established, the dominant group uses its power to obstruct the competition of other groups and to solidify dominance.

In the end, differential power among the various groups is the most critical of the requirements for the emergence of ethnic stratification. Noels theory postulates that competition for scarce resources provides the motivation for stratification, ethnocentrism channels this competition along ethnic lines, and differential power determines whether one group will be able to subordinate others. Sociology.