Combining theoretical and historical analysis, this book develops the thesis that the concepts of 'race' and 'ethnicity' are socially constructed. With case studies of the incorporation of Blacks and Irish immigrants into the social structure of the United States, Richard Williams demonstrates that the social values placed upon these groups result from their placement into specific labour categories rather than from inherent attributes. The author analyses the process by which the social identities of Blacks and Irish developed in their native lands. He argues that the social structure in the United States at its founding was hierarchical from its inception and that immigrant wage labourers were demanded to fill positions created by that structure. The conceptions of their identities developed through a transfer of the value assigned to their social positions to the groups themselves. Racial and ethnic identities represent the legitimisation of social stratification based on power relations.
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(204mm x 159mm x 16mm)
Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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