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Sociology Essay

1670 words - 7 pages

Why is the study of race and ethnic relations important in multi-cultural societies?

Many people use the terms race and ethnicity interchangeably, however the distinction must be made. Wilkinson (1993) defines the term, race as “a category of persons who are related by a common heredity or ancestry and who are perceived and responded to in terms of external features or traits,” whereas ethnicity often refers to “a shared culture and lifestyle.” It must be noted that race is social construct rather than biological concept. The fact remains that different societies construct different systems of race classifications and these systems change over time. Ethnic group maybe distinguished on ...view middle of the document...

Thus, for the communication in the society or peace or stability in the wider society race and ethnic relations must be studied. Understanding Race and Ethnic relations would assist in understanding society as a whole. Multicultural society is understood and defined as a combination of different cultures, races and ethnic groups in a society. According to Misir good governance in multicultural societies generally ensures the confluence of each ethnic group’s culture to create national unity. National unity must not mean a dilution of the ethnics’ cultures. National unity must not mean giving a higher status to some cultures to the exclusion of other cultures. Ethnics should be given space to unite and interact within a mosaic of all cultures. National unity must mean pluralist unity where there is a dynamic coexistence of each group’s culture. National unity must create space and promote an appreciation of all cultures. Further, all cultures must be on a level playing field to contribute to societal development. This approach to national unity indeed, will reflect all cultural patterns in the society’s major institutions.
Studying and understanding the culture and practice of each group, allows for better cooperation, functioning and allegiance to one’s county. This however does by no means indicate that the various groups are to abandon their own tradition. According to (Zastrow 2010) the nations in the United States have adopted the practice of what is called Cultural pluralism. Cultural pluralism is a concept that implies a series of coexisting groups, each preserving its own tradition and culture but each loyal to an overarching nation. Hence, studying race and ethnicity relations in a multi-cultural society is important because it is said that when two or more racial or ethnic groups come into contact, one of several interactions may occur, including genocide, expulsion or population transfer, slavery, colonialism, segregation, acculturation,, assimilation, pluralism, and amalgamation. This may occur when two or more different groups exist in the same society, or when different groups from different societies come into contact. Not all patterns of interaction between ethnic and racial groups are destructive but one should be aware of the issues that may arise in such multi-cultural society so measures can be taken initially to prevent the abovementioned from occurring.
In so doing, we will be able to incorporate “pluralism” as a society whereby we will maintain our distinctiveness as a people, yet have respect for one another and be able to equally access to social resources. In addition, we will be able to work peaceably with one another, contributing to the efficiency and productiveness of our society, while enhancing the economy. Furthermore, in order for there to be stability and progression of a society there must be some form of assimilation. Assimilation is the process by which a minority becomes socially, economically and...

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