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Discussion: Race as a social and political constructionReported This is a featured thread

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C-3PO
C-3PO
Race as a social and political construction
Oct 31 2012, 11:46 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 31 2012, 11:46 PM EDT
The argument about race from the perspective of primordialism assumes race to be an ascribed characteristic, that if a person were chinese it would have been because his/her father was racially chinese and “chinese-ness” was innate within them.

Constructivists argue that the state actively constructs and shapes racial categories, and that this temporal construction has implications on the content and rules of inclusion and exclusion from a particular race. The Singapore state racially categorizes people along the lines of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Others. Such a categorization is reductive as it does not take into account the unique identities that individuals may subscribe to throughout their lives. All infants are categorized according to the race of the father, and this is problematic when we consider the rising rates of infants of mixed heritage. Recent developments have attempted to address the flawed conception of categorization along racial lines. Parents of children with mixed heritage may indicate this on the child's birth certificate, but need to specify a "primary" racial categorization.

The argument against racial categorization from the standpoint of identity is indeed significant, but it isn't sufficient. I am personally also interested in the effects of such categorization of racial groups. While phenotypical differences are apparent within and between groups of people, they are insignificant in the sense that they do not impede or enhance function and capabilities.
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Keyword tags: Ethnicity Race
C-3PO
C-3PO
1. RE: Race as a social and political construction
Oct 31 2012, 11:47 PM EDT | Post edited: Oct 31 2012, 11:47 PM EDT

In reality, however, racial categorization leads to disparities in the types of resources that an individual may receive. In the United States, positive discrimination, or affirmative action, refers to policies that take into account "race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or national origin" into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group "in areas of employment, education, and business". In Singapore, specifically, due to the a racial quota system within the public housing, a person's racial categorization does play a part in the spatial allocation of apartment units.

Affirmative action in terms of "equal opportunity" to all races, for entry to employment, education, and business to be decided purely by merit may not be enough. Another disturbing trend related to racial categorization is the disparity in achievement in standardized tests between different racial groups. Singapore education statistics (http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/education-statistics-digest/files/esd-2012.pdf) track students as a cohort, by the year that they enter primary school, and consistently show that throughout primary, secondary, and post secondary institutions, there is a significant difference in test scores, and percentage admitted to institutions of higher education. This (necessarily) leads to a future disparity in the levels of human capital along racial lines, and may lead to economic stratification along these lines as well.

In sum, this discussion has elucidated the problematic nature of racial categorization, both from an identity construction standpoint, as well as a stratification perspective.
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