Racial Stereotypes

The ‘race’ concept continuously evokes a great deal of interest, as it is considered a core feature in so many fields. However, what is the meaning of the term ‘race’? First of all, ‘race’ is a concept endowed with a variety of meanings. This concept is often referred to in everyday life, as we mention phrases such as ‘the human race’ or ‘race relations’. Other meanings of the term ‘race’ are considered more technical, when for instance a biologist refers to the race of a particular species, a plant or an animal. The meanings attached to this concept of ‘race’ differ in all of these contexts, being at the same time a confusing term. In the USA, the term ‘race’ defines a group of people having in common physical traits such as skin color, hair texture or eye formation.

Race versus Gender

How are anthropologists referring to ‘race’? Are there common features in the anthropological uses of the term ‘race’ related to ‘gender’, or are these terms contradictory? It is of utmost importance to discuss what human races represent, and how they originate and function. This essay focuses on both cultural and biological concepts related to ‘race’, and particularly on the relationship between biological and cultural reference to the ‘race’ concept on the one hand, and ‘race’ versus ‘gender’ discourse on the other hand.

In both sociology and anthropology, the ‘gender’ concept is associated with the notion of ‘race’, meaning the social differentiation of the behavior imposed on the basis of a natural substratum: the biological sexes. The opposition human male/female or black/white associated with the human being becomes the ideological-cognitive scheme related to sexes and races in our contemporary society, as it corresponds to the properties of the notions of man and woman in their relationship of physical domination of the women class by the men class. Questioning the scientific rationality of the biological definition of sexes and races establishes an epistemological break referring to all social sciences.

Society and Language

Both ‘race’ and ‘gender’ represent a research area where mainly social and linguistic expertise leads to gradual progress. This essay was based on different perspectives on the notion of ‘race’. These lines aimed not to question different approaches, but to suggest the existence of such concepts meant to reflect discourse and language usage; thus, we have particularly referred to the contemporary discourse analysis of both race and gender concepts. Therefore, as long as both society and language exist, the notions of ‘race’ and ‘gender’ will always be present within it.

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