Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: April 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963879 | Print ISBN: 9781412926942 | Online ISBN: 9781412963879| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
A race is a social grouping of people who have similar physical or social characteristics that are generally considered by society as forming a distinct group. In contemporary scholarship, four main concepts characterize race. First, race is socially constructed, in that humans use symbols to create meaning from their social environment. This means that race is not an intrinsic part of a human being or the environment but, rather, an identity created using symbols to establish meaning in a culture or society. Second, race is partially characterized by physical similarities such as skin color, facial features, or hair texture. Although physical characteristics constitute a portion of the concept of race, this is a social rather than biological distinction. That is, human beings create categories of race based on physical characteristics rather than the physical characteristics having intrinsic biological meaning. Third, race is partially characterized by general social similarities such Often, ...