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
Race, Social Construction of
The social construction of race refers to the establishment by society of distinct groupings of people who have generally similar physical or other characteristics. Following contemporary thought, race is seen as being socially constructed as humans use symbols to create meaning from their social environment. In this view, race is not an intrinsic part of a human being or the environment, but an identity created using symbols to establish meaning in a culture or society. This entry discusses the development of racial groupings, how race is constructed differently in different nations, and intrarace variations. Although race is partially characterized by physical similarities such as skin color, facial features, or hair texture, contemporary scholars hold that human beings create categories of race based on physical characteristics rather than that the physical characteristics have intrinsic biological meaning. In addition to the social construction of the meaning of race, humans also construct the ...