Monday, March 16, 2020
Racial and ethnic inequalities as a social problem
Racial and ethnic inequalities as a social problem There has been a raging debate about the definitions of a social condition and a social problem. Some researchers have also likened these two concepts despite the distinction between the two concepts. A social condition is a condition regarded by some people as bad while a social problem is a condition viewed by everyone as bad.Advertising We will write a custom essay sample on Racial and ethnic inequalities as a social problem specifically for you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More Leon-Guerrero defines a social problem as Ã¢â¬Å"a social condition or pattern of behavior that has negative consequences for individuals, our social world, or our physical worldÃ¢â¬ (8). Race and ethnicity is among the major social conditions that exist in the contemporary society. It occurs as a result of increased international migrations across the continents and intermarriages between different communities in the world. Leon-Guerrero outlines two perspectives of defining of race namely the biological and the sociological perspectives. Race from a biological point of view is defined as a group or population that shares a set of genetic characteristics and physical features such as religion, skin color or species. However, sociologists such as Michael Omi an Howard Winant regard race as a concept signifying and symbolizing social conflicts and interests by referring to different types of human bodies (Leon-Guerrero 67). Racism is the belief by individuals that certain racial or ethnic groups are inferior and that discriminatory practices against them are justified (Leon-Guerrero 70). Discriminatory practices can be classified as individual or institutional. Individual discrimination includes actions against minority members by individuals whereas institutional discrimination is practiced by the government, social institutions and organizations and it includes segregation, exclusion or expulsion. Racial and ethnic inequalities affect an individual and the society in different ways including the socioeconomic position of an individual or of the society. Income and wealth of an individual is determined by the social class to which he or she belongs. In the United States, the measure of income and wealth is home ownership since it enables families to invest in their future. After the Second World War, the rate of White middle-class home ownership grew steadily as compared to the Blacks and other minority groups who were denied access to home ownership through discrimination and low income. A research by Hudson et al also suggests that Ã¢â¬Å"it is possible that experiences of racial discrimination could, in part, diminish the effects of increased socioeconomic position among African American menÃ¢â¬ (134). The racial and ethnic inequalities also determine the type of education that various individuals in the society would like the children to have. GagnÃ © and Tewksbury, as quoted by Leon-Guerrero, argue that Ã¢â¬Å"schools hav e become economically segregated, with the children of middle or upper class families attending predominantly White suburban schools and the children of poorer parents attending racially mixed urban schoolsÃ¢â¬ (79). Thus it is evident that racial and ethnic inequalities have an indirect impact on the family income and wealth which in turn dictates the education system that their children would undergo.Advertising Looking for essay on social sciences? Let's see if we can help you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More Racial and ethnic inequalities have a profound impact on the health of an individual or the society at large. Leon-Guerrero quotes Gabard and Cooper who argue that Ã¢â¬Å"although race may be a social construct, it produces profound biological manifestations through stress, decreased services, decreased medications, and decreased hospital proceduresÃ¢â¬ (80). The health institutions have put in place a system that discriminates agai nst the racial and ethnic minority group members. Some researchers have gone further to specify how discrimination is related to health. After an analysis and comparison of the relationship between racial discrimination and health-related outcomes, Benjamins argues that Ã¢â¬Å"discrimination was most strongly related to depression and was less consistently associated with physical health and health behaviorsÃ¢â¬ (16). Racial and ethnic inequalities also have consequences on individuals who leave their country of origin to move to another. The security systems always target immigrants of ethnic and racial minority and they are associated with crime since they are believed to be illegal immigrants. The history of social problems is identified through a subjective process according to Malcom Spector and John Kituse who outline four stages of the subjective process (Leon-Guerrero 12). The first stage, which is defined as the transformation process, involves taking a private or person al problem and transforming it into a public issue. The transformation is done by an influential group, activists or advocates who call attention to and define an issue as a social problem. The second stage is known as the legitimization process which is concerned with formalizing the manner in which the social problems or complaints generated by the problem are handled. This process involves creation and implementation of policies to respond to the social problem. The third stage is the conflict stage that involves readjustment of the formal response system, renegotiation of procedures, reforming practices and engaging in administrative or organizational restructuring. The fourth and final stage begins when groups believe that they can no longer work within the established system. Advocates or activists of the social problem are faced with two options which are either to radically change the existing system or to work outside the system (Leon-Guerrero 12). Most social problems in a community, society, or a global social system are caused by the inequality in the distribution of resources. Some individuals or organizations in the community have more income, power and prestige than others.Advertising We will write a custom essay sample on Racial and ethnic inequalities as a social problem specifically for you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More This group of people develops vested interests in maintaining or even increasing their resources and therefore they come up with laws, ideologies, customs and informal norms which are viewed as legitimate by the whole society. As a result, they are able to maintain and control the available resources and block other low class individuals who may want to rise up the ranks. This yields frustration on the part of the majority low class individuals who must struggle to access the resources thus creating conflict. Leon-Guerrero explains that Ã¢â¬Å"conflict theorists focus on how the dynamics of raci al and ethnic relations divide groups while maintaining a dominant group defined by ethnic and racial categories or social classÃ¢â¬ (71). Marxist theorists argue that immigrants form a backup labor force that performs jobs that native workers no longer perform. This group of individuals provides a cheaper labor source that easily secures employment during economic growth and easily lay off during economic recessions. Conflict develops when higher paid native workers struggle to prevent importation of cheaper nonnative labor so as to maintain their advantage in the labor market. According to Edna BonacichÃ¢â¬â¢s theory of antagonism, Ã¢â¬Å"the presence of a cheaper labor group threatens the jobs of higher paid workers and the standard for wages in all jobs. Under these conditions, the two groups of laborers remain in conflict with each other while the interests of capitalist business owners are maintainedÃ¢â¬ (Leon-Guerrero 72). Benjamins, Maureen R. Comparing Measures of Racial/Ethnic Discrimination, Coping, and Associations with Health-related Outcomes in a Diverse Sample. Journal of Urban Health (2013): 1-17. Print. Hudson, Darrell L., et al. Are Benefits Conferred with Greater Socioeconomic Position Undermined by Racial Discrimination among African American Men? Journal of Mens Health 9.2 (2012): 127-136. Print. Leon-Guerrero, Anna. Social Problems: Community, Policy, and Social Action. (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press, 2011. Print.