Good Example Of Constructions Of Race And Ethnicity Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Race, People, Sociology, Construction, Power, America, Society, Concept

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/11/06

Race is a socially constructed concept within the society. This concept means that people form up and define race in their own way. Many authors have come to argue out this concept suggesting that race is not a biological thing rather it is socially constructed within the individuals. Individuals come up with different concepts that creates boundaries within individuals thus coming up with different races among themselves. Defining a race is something that has created a dilemma within many people. Many people have come up with concepts explaining the origin of different races. In Omi and Winant’s book, “Racial Formations” people come up with different ways of creating and categorizing races. Omi and Winant (1989) wrote in their book, “Phipps was designated "black" in her birth certificate in accordance with a 1970 state law which declared anyone with at least one-thirty-second "Negro blood" to be black. The legal battle raised intriguing questions about the concept of race, its meaning in contemporary society, and its use (and abuse) in public policy.” ( p 19)
This shows that there were policies that were set up within the society that are used to construct races within the society. In the book, the author pointed out that race id a pre-eminently socio-historical concept with varying between different societies. From the film, “Race: the power of an illusion” by Adelman, 2003, the producer says that people use different external body complexity to come up with different races. This external body characteristics does not make any individual superior to the other. Such differences are not biological such as different abilities for example athletics. This shows that race is a socially constructed concept which may be viewed differently by different individuals in different societies.
Social construction of race within America has an impact to the power and privilege among the people in the society. Race brings about classes of people with different privileges. To an extent, the issue of race brought about slavery in America, as people viewed a particular race which is that one of the African Americans who are black as their slaves. Black people were made to be servants of their masters who were the wealthy white Americans. These slaves did not have any kind of privileges that they could enjoy. In the books, it is stated, “In the United States, the racial category of “black evolved with the consolidation of racial slavery.” (Omi & Winant, 1986). The slaves therefore had no powers or even privileges.
Furthermore, in the film, “Race: the power of an illusion” by Adelman, 2003, it is noted that during the face of war in America, was violence within the US which accompanied suffering among people of different races. Social differences that are created by the races makes different races have different access to power as well as enjoying different privileges. The Negros often had different privileges when compared to the whites within America. The social classes which are created by people from different races makes people have different privileges to power. Those of black race were always oppressed as they worked as servants, enjoying less privileges compared to other people of different race. It can therefore be argued out that social construction of races in America impacted power and privileges to different people.
There are several elements of social structures that play an important part in the social construction of race. These includes norms and values. People are classified according to different races in regard to their norms. Black race have different norms compared to whites, and this is what brings about social construction of race. People are categorized into a specific group with respect to their norms and believes. As stated, “To suggest another example: the notion of "passing" takes on new meaning if we compare various American cultures' means of assigning racial identity.” (Omi & Winant, 1986). This illustrates that people uses cultural norms to come up with different races. They are the key things that are used to construct race within the society. Currently, it is evident that different races have different norms and values, meaning that they are the key things used in construction of races within the society.
According to Race: the power of an illusion by Adelman, 2003 racial construction is based on different norms that are practiced. One is able to differentiate people by different race basing on their values as well as norms. Furthermore, Adelman states that racial construction is also based on the external characteristics of human individuals. He stated that external characteristics such as body complexity, hair color, and skin color among other observable features are used to classify people into different races. One can only tell someone’s race by considering the observable body characteristics such as the skin colors. This classification cannot be attributed to any biological differences. Thus, it can be concluded that some social structures such as norms and values as well as other external observable body characteristics play part in the social construction of race.


Adelman, L. (Producer). (2003). Race: the power of an illusion, Episode 1 [Motion picture]. USA: California Newsreel.
Omi, M. & Winant, H. (1986). Racial formations. In Ore, T. (Ed). (2014). The social construction of difference and inequality (6th ed., pp. 19-29). New York: McGraw Hill.

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