American Sociological Association

Race and Ethnicity

Sociology uses and critiques the concepts of race and ethnicity, connecting them to the idea of majority and minority groups and social structures of inequality, power, and stratification. “Race” refers to physical differences that groups and cultures consider socially significant, while “ethnicity” refers to shared culture, such as language, ancestry, practices, and beliefs.

The sociological perspective explores how race and ethnicity are socially constructed and how individuals identify with one or more. Research demonstrates how they are linked to social position and to political and policy debates about issues such as immigration, identity formation, and inter-group relations (including racism).

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