• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month


Extracts from this document...


The purpose of this essay is to present the argument concerning the issue of 'race' as a term, and whether it is a concept which should be presented as a means of differentiating between individuals. There will be reference to where the notion of race originates and its implications on contemporary society. In addition the progress of scientific study into biology will be presented in relation to the issue of 'race', from Darwinism to contemporary DNA analysis. Next there will be an overview of the primordial approach to explaining identity and the links associated with this and the history and development of 'race' and its connotations. In response to this the constructivist argument will be presented including the idea of race to be socially constructed. This will support the proposal to discard the term 'race'. A brief link back to the scientific development of genetics will be apparent here to support this approach. The general argument of this essay will be leaning towards the abolition of the term and its connotations when used by social scientists. Before looking at the background to this debate it is important first to try to define The term race is seen to be a relatively modern one, developing in the late 18th century during Europe's imperial expansion. ...read more.


(Guillaumin, 1999:360) However, with the idea that humans are 'naturally' different disappearing, there are still differences between the groups ('races') within society. For this argument, with the aim of social sciences being to study society and human behaviour, it would be impossible to ignore that there is a division. "Given that race is seen as a scientific sociological factor and that racial differences are taken to exist and to have a determining saliency, there is a need to specify the meaning of 'race' outside the officially recognised group classifications of apartheid. But with the 'fact' of 'race' contradicted by scientific research findings in modern biology and genetics, what kind of conceptual terminology of 'race' is adequate for such a task?" (Ratcliffe, 1994:98) The terminology associated with 'race' is rife in modern society, for example words such as "white" and "black" are used to distinguish between people, usually for appearance purposes. One would find the question of ethnic origin followed by these types of words and others as choices for the response. They provide an essence of identity for most humans which has come to be a natural aspect that we look at subconsciously. So, despite there being no scientific proof to back up the original idea of 'race', it could be a more fitting and useful idea for social scientists to look at the reasons behind this behaviour and the meanings humans attach to it. ...read more.


In conclusion, one must attempt to answer the question at hand. It is important, primarily to determine whether or not 'race' exists. Due to the fact that 'race' is scientifically disprovable from the work of Darwin to the current DNA analysis, one could argue that it does not exist. It would seem fitting, therefore, to abandon the use of the term. However, as Ratcliffe states, "To exclude it altogether would be to deny its presence in contemporary debates". (Ratcliffe, 1994:4) As this is apparent and race still exists for people as a conceptual tool, it is perhaps more useful for social scientists to use it as a means of understanding its presence in society, thus social inequalities and conflict between groups. One must also ask the underlying vitriolic debate as to the placing of values in sociological research. Can research be value-free and, if so, should it? Those who argue that it can be free from exterior factors take an objective view to their study and claim that the role of social scientists is simply to observe social facts for authenticity of their findings. However, if at all, when discussing the 'race' debate, perhaps it would be more advisable to carry out value-laden research with a committed means to stand on a particular side of the debate as a means to break down hierarchies and empower the participant. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Social Theory section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Social Theory essays

  1. In both Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel, and The House of Bernarda ...

    Like the daughters, the stallion strives to escape the confined space that is in this case, the corral, in order to attain freedom. The stallion's drive is conveyed as "he kicks against the wall of the house" (pg. 197). The sound is so pervasive and disturbing that Prudencia declares she "quivered" in her chest" (pg.

  2. The scientific field of microbiology.

    The ward was split into two main sections: a section where midwives delivered the babies, and a section where the doctors delivered the children. Semmelweiss noticed the infection rate for mothers was higher in the doctor's ward then it was in the midwives ward.

  1. Find and summarise any evidence of inequality in the area of 'race' and ethnicity.

    Jacques Derrida deemed apartheid to be "the ultimate racism in the world" (Posel, 2002: 73). Apartheid existed under the regime of South Africa's white leader since 1948 when, by a small margin, the National Party was elected "under the auspices of die apartheidgedagte (the apartheid-idea)"

  2. The contributions made by sociologists to understandings of the concepts of 'ethnic group' and ...

    by sociologists in describing the role that these concepts 'race' and 'ethnic group' played in different historical contexts. How these concepts shaped the structure of particular societies? However, other writers argue that there is a lack of historical perspective concerning the positioning of 'race' and 'ethnic groups' in relation to sociological literature of 'race' and 'ethnic groups'.

  1. An Explanation of Child development, Based on Genetic and Environmental Influences.

    However, not all individuals conform, and there are variations within the lifespan of an individual as well as between individuals within the same family, which emphasises individual differences. Harris, -Judith-Rich (2002), by discussing behavioural genetics based on the role of nature over nurture in child development, showed a great support

  2. Child Prostitution in Eighteenth Century London

    The clothing industry was one trade that some felt was to blame as they had bad working conditions; there was very low pay and the nature of the industries products was trivial. Parents were warned about letting their daughters become milliners, dress-makers as there was a risk they would be forced into prostitution.

  1. Discuss some of the ways in which English has been shaped as a tool ...

    This happens particularly within the private sector, where unnecessary wordiness and sentence complexity are employed to prove superiority and to influence the public sector, where the extreme use of jargon can often be described as writing to impress, rather than writing to inform.

  2. Bradford Riots. In this paper we focus in particular on the Bradford riot ...

    to a retreat from political action (Roberts, 1984), or that it generated a predisposition towards 'violent protest' without clear political goals (Benyon and Solomos, 1987). When the evidence is inspected more closely, only about half of those arrested in July 1981 for instance were unemployed, very much what one would

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work