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Socio-Biological Theory of Race

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What is race (according to this perspective)?
* Racial classifications are based on physical differences * These physical differences are seen to represent underlying genetic differences. * Physical differences: skin color, eye shape, hair texture, body shape a) Race = physical/genetic differences

b) Race = character/behavioral differences
Assumptions: a) >>> causes >>> b)
* Biological determination

Where did this perspective come from?
* Must travel back in time, prior to the era of sociobiology


16th Century
* Rare
* 1508
* William Dunbar (Scottish Poet) > “The Dance of the Sevin Deidly Synnis” *
17th Century
* Groups
* Technical term > classification system (groups/a people/stock) *
18th Century
* Evaluation/Judgment
* Race > groups “strange to the European eye”
* Race > the “other” -> groups “other than the European” *

19th Century
a) Biology/Genetics
* Socio-biology enters the picture
* Thinking scientifically about race
* Biological determinism
b) Hierarchy
* Natural Hierarchy of human races

c) Race Scientists
* Ex#1. Retzius & Cephalic Index
* Measure of Civilization
* Long Heads = more civilized
* Round heads = less civilized
* Ex#2. Morton & Cranial Capacity
* Measure of Civilization
* Ex#3. Galton & Eugenics
* “Science of improving the stock”

1) Goal to prove so-called superior race through selective breeding * Breed people from “genetically superior groups”
2) Discourage/prohibit breeding among genetically “inferior groups” * Ex#4. Galton & IQ

Critical Review/Limitations:

1. Race classification schemes questionable

2. “Races” more similar than different:
“Blacks” and “Whites” have more genes in common, than genes thatdistinguish the two so-called “Races”.

More genetic/biological variability within the “White” race and within the“Black” race than between “Whites” and “Blacks”

3. “Racial” traits & behaviors Questionable
No contemporary, convincing scientific evidence

4. IQ test biased

* Otherness = strangeness
* Carolus Linnaeus
* Broca
* Racial determinist

Botanist Father of
Zoologist Taxonomy

Racial GroupCharacteristics/Behaviors
Europeans=light, lively, inventive, muscular swift, clever America Indians=choleric [irritable], combative, persevering Asiatics=yellow, melancholic, inflexible, severe
Africans=phlegmatic, indulgent, crafty, negligent, slow

It was assumed that:
1) The groupings were accurate/true
2) The behaviors/characters of those within particular group were accurate/true. 3) The evaluations/judgment were true

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