Ethnic and Race Relations/Soc. 211/CT3ra fall 2008. Martin Eisenberg

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Ethnic and Race Relations/Soc. 211/CT3RA Fall 2008. Martin Eisenberg

T, Th 12:15-1:30 RA 112 Office Hours: Powdermaker, Room 252 V.

Tues/Thurs, 11 AM -12 Noon or by appt. E-mail:

In the first part of the semester, we will develop an historical and sociological analysis of race as a social structural relationship of dominant and oppressed status groups that entails social practices and ideology. We will focus mainly on the U.S. experience of blacks/whites because this experience has been so central to U.S. development, because until very recently, African Americans were, by far, the largest non-white “racial” group in the U.S., and because the black/white social structure has been an exemplar/model of how racism was applied to non-white and inferior white races in the US. We will look at the ways the social structure of race-as-status forms, and how it sheds and acquires meanings in response to: the developing economy, the needs of classes, the actions of the state, the status hungers of social groups and the social struggles of subordinate groups. Throughout the semester, we will emphasize the historical and social process of racial construction, and differentiate between race and biology, between race and ethnicity, and between race and class. Our general question is: Is the U.S. still a racist society, and if it is, to what extent?

In the second part of the semester, we will first examine aspects of the immigration and ethnic development of the late 19th and first half of the 20th century within the U.S. We will then examine the sociological conceptualizations of both ethnicity and of the problem/process of assimilation that were responses to the vast numbers of late 19th/early 20th century migrants to the U.S. We will use a new theory of assimilation that was developed based, in part, upon the experience of those earlier groups, to examine the experience of new immigrant groups within the U.S. We will examine the ways in which the experiences of the young adults who are children of new immigrants (since 1968) and who live in NYC, are similar to and different from the experiences of the descendants of immigrants that arrived in 1880-1920 in the light of the globalized economy, the economic diversity of new immigrants, the ease of transportation and communication, and the non-whiteness of immigrants. Our general questions are: are the descendants of new immigrants assimilating, and if so/if not, what are the conditions that promote and/or provide resistance/obstacles to assimilation? And, what does the multi-ethnic and multi-racial experience of second generation New Yorkers imply about the future of New York with respect to race and ethnicity.

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