Shar-Lyn Tay SSS 100 Professor Julien Research Paper Documentation African-Americans have always been occupied in low-status jobs. Among the low-status jobs they hold in the United States are private household workers, cleaning and building service workers, health service assistants, aides, nurses, attendants, operators, fabricators, and laborers (US Census Bureau, 2003) (Kendall, p. 332, 5th ed). African-Americans have received less education than Euro-Americans. AfricanAmericans have a high dropout rate of 13.7% (Kendall, p. 390, 5th ed). As compared with Euro-Americans, who have Bachelor’s Degree graduates of 18.6%, African-Americans only have 11.5%. 9.5% of Euro-Americans have an advanced degree whereas only 5.1% of African-Americans have one (US Census Bureau, 2003) (Kendall, p. 392, 5th ed). Crime-infested ghettos have been the residence for many African-Americans. A large number of African-Americans live in the central cities, mostly the ghettos, which have a far higher crime rate comparatively (Robertson, 1989, p. 365). Around half the population of African-Americans live in urban ghettos, where crime and drug abuse are rampant (Robertson, 1989, p. 207). African-Americans are more subjected to police brutality. They are treated more harshly by the police compared to the treatment of white individuals (Kendall, p. 201, 5th ed). African-Americans form a large percentage of the prison population. In 1996, African-American men had an incarceration rate of 3,096 per 100,000, 8 times the rate of Euro-Americans, which is 370 per 100,000 (Butterfield, 1999) (Kendall, p.201, 4th ed). African-Americans are subject to receiving less medical care. People who are below the poverty level face difficulties in obtaining medical care (Kendall, p. 467, 5th ed). Around 24% of African-Americans were classified as officially poor in 2002, as opposed to 8% of non-Latinos/whites (Kendall, p. 269, 5th ed). Hispanic-Americans have also been occupied in low-status jobs. They usually work as private household workers, cleaning and building service workers, health service assistants, aides, nurses, attendants, operators, fabricators, and laborers (US Census Bureau, 2003) (Kendall, p. 332, 5th ed). Hispanic-Americans are the recipients of less education than Euro-Americans. They hold the highest dropout rate in the country – 21.8% (Kendall, p. 390, 5th ed). They also rank less than Euro-Americans in every aspect of education. For example, only 7.3% of Hispanic-Americans receive their Bachelor’s Degree, compared with 18.6% of EuroAmericans who do. At an advanced degree level, only 3.3% of Hispanic-Americans graduate, whereas Euro-Americans have a percentage of 9.5% (US Census Bureau, 2003) (Kendall, p. 392, 5th ed). Hispanic-Americans tend to live in crime-infested ghettos. Over 80% live in the ghettos (Robertson, 1989, p. 209), which usually has a far higher crime rate (Robertson, 1989, p.365). Police brutality is more rampant among Hispanic-Americans. HispanicAmericans are treated more harshly by the police compared to the treatment of white individuals (Kendall, p. 201, 5th ed). Hispanic-Americans make up a big percentage of the prison population. The incarceration rate for Hispanic-Americans were 1,276 per 100,000 whereas the ratio for Euro-Americans was 370 per 100,000 (Butterfield, 1999) (Kendall, p. 201, 4th ed). Hispanic-Americans receive less medical care. People who are below the poverty level face difficulties in obtaining medical care (Kendall, p. 467, 5th ed). Around 22% of Hispanic-Americans were classified as officially poor in 2002, as opposed to 8% of nonLatinos/whites (Kendall, p. 269, 5th ed). Native-Americans are subject to high unemployment rates. Generally, the rate of unemployment is 50%, but can have an average of 80% depending on the area and season (Robertson, 1989, p. 211). Native-Americans have high suicide rates. 21.4 of Native-Americans for every 100,000 people committed suicide in 2001 (National Center for Health Statistics, 2003) (Kendall, p.19, 5th ed). Native-Americans also tend to receive less education. They are still far below the average levels of educational achievement in the United States (Kendall, p. 392, 5th ed). As for dropout rates, the rate is nearly 60% before children even reach the eighth grade (Robertson, 1989, p. 211). Native-Americans are prone to high disease rates. They have the high percentages of tuberculosis and alcoholism. Therefore, their life expectancy is very low; an average of forty-five years for men, and forty-eight years for women (Kendall, p. 293, 5th ed). High poverty rates are usually associated with Native-Americans. About one-third live below the poverty line, and a study found that 70% of Navajo households lived without running water, sewer facilities, or electricity (Benokraitis, 1999) (Kendall, p. 269, 5th ed). Women are another group of people who hold low-status jobs. 96.2% of private household workers are represented by women, while 89.2% of health service assistants, aides, nurses, and attendants are also represented by women. Other low-status jobs that women hold are cleaning and building service workers, operators, fabricators, and laborers (US Census Bureau, 2003) (Kendall, p. 332, 5th ed). Women have been holding the same jobs as men and performing equal work, yet they receive unequal pay. For example, for every dollar a man makes in the same profession, women make less. Women only receive 96 cents as secretaries, stenographers and typists, 80 cents as restaurant servers, 75 cents as lawyers, and 67 cents as financial managers (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2002) (Kendall, p. 335, 5th ed). Women are often subjected to excessive physical abuse. Men are rarely the victim, and it is stated that women are five times more exposed to violence than men (Kendall, p. 367, 5th ed). Also, only half of the cases where women are abused are reported to the police (US Department of Justice, 2000) (Kendall, p. 367, 5th ed). Women are severely underrepresented in formal political positions. Less than 25% of the top positions in the federal government are held by women (US Office of Personnel Management, 2001, 2003) (Kendall, p. 424, 5th ed). Of the 50 state governors, only 18% are women; 14% of seats in the House of Representatives are held by women. Women also hold 14% of the Senate’s 100 seats (Macionis, 2006, p. 264). Women usually receive less education. In higher-level science and computer sciences courses, boys outnumber girls. There are more male students enrolled in computer-related programs while more females are enrolled in clerical and data-entry classes (AAUW, 1998) (Kendall, p. 386, 5th ed). Scientific Explanations Sociologists have come up with a functionalist perspective as to why society is unequal. Societies in general are made up of different roles, played by different members of society in order for a society to run smoothly. Each position differs from each other, as some are more important than others. The more important roles usually require more skill and training. As people have to work harder in order to secure more important roles in society, they are awarded much more than those with less important roles. Different rewards lead to inequality in society. Unequal groups in turn lead to unequal statuses. Functionalist sociologists also offer the explanation of meritocracy, which means that every position is rewarded based on one’s ability and skills. The conflict view of social inequality is that it occurs when there is a struggle among groups for the same resources. The competition will lead to conflict. The group that consists of people with economic and political power will end up as the winners and gain control of most of the resources. In order for the losers to survive, they have to come to an agreement with the winners. The agreement usually includes agreeing to serve the winners in exchange for some resources. Since the losing group consists of weaker people, they are forced to compromise. As a result of having winners and losers as an outcome, unequal classes will exist. African-American Inequality – Functionalist Perspective Functionalists believe that African-Americans were unable to assimilate into European-American culture. Assimilation is the process where a minority racial or ethnic group adapts the dominant culture. As they were unable to adopt European-American culture, they became segregated, which is the opposite of assimilation. The segregation of races meant that African-Americans maintained their own culture and traditions. Doing so kept them in the minority, and therefore not fit to secure important jobs. African-American Inequality – Conflict Perspective African-Americans were an unequal class because they lost the competition of slavery with European-Americans. When the European-Americans won the fight, African-Americans were enslaved and forced to labor for them for no wages. The European-Americans sold cotton for a profit, but never shared any of the profits, products, or wages with the African-Americans. After slavery ended, prejudice against African-Americans continued in the form of racial discrimination. They were denied access to a good education, jobs, and housing, and many were thrown in prison. This denial of access to resources by the European-Americans eventually led to segregation. Hispanic-American Inequality – Functionalist Perspective The reason why Hispanic–Americans were unable to achieve the same status as European-Americans was because of their different cultures and inability or unwillingness to assimilate. When they kept their unique cultures and refused to conform to Anglo-Saxon culture, it caused segregation. Therefore, being in the minority, Hispanic-Americans were unable to play the more important roles in society. Hispanic-American Inequality – Conflict Perspective Hispanic-Americans became unequal as a result of the Mexican-American War, which lasted from 1846 – 1848. This conflict between the two parties led to a huge loss of land and the right to vote for the Latinos. This caused internal colonialism to occur. Another explanation is that Hispanic-Americans are unable to converse in English, thus differentiating them from European-Americans. Therefore they are unable to get good jobs and are paid low wages. Native-American Inequality – Functionalist Perspective Native-Americans also faced problems with assimilating into European-American culture. Their fight to keep their ethnicity resulted in cultural assimilation. Being unable to assimilate caused Native-Americans, who were mostly still living on government reservations, to be segregated. This situation prevented them from finding good jobs and climbing the social ladder, which eventually leads to social inequality. Native-American Inequality – Conflict Perspective Native-Americans came over to the United States from Asia and settled on US soil before anyone else did. The Europeans later came and fought the Native-Americans for their land and won. The land that the Native-Americans owned now belonged to the European-Americans. The Europeans tried to keep the peace by giving them a little money for food and clothes. However, every treaty made with the Natives was broken and the only promise fulfilled was the promise to take their land. Many years later, Native-Americans are still living in poverty on government reservations due to a conflict that happened in the distant past. Women Inequality – Functionalist Perspective Men and women have traditional gender roles, where the man is usually the breadwinner of the family while the woman stays at home and nurtures the children. As men and women have different roles, they are rewarded differently. Different rewards lead to gender inequality. Gender segregation also occurs in the workplace. This functionalist explanation, called the Human Capital Model, states that women receive lower wages because of their responsibilities as a mother. When women go on maternity leave and are out of the workforce, their human capital decreases, giving men an advantage. Men get to improve their skills while the women are away. As a result, gender inequality arises due to a woman’s childbearing responsibilities. Women Inequality – Conflict Perspective The conflict perspective for gender inequality states that men have more control in the workplace than women. Men will then try to maintain their upper-echelon position by denying women access to higher education, as educated women are more likely to secure high-status jobs. Men also deal with women entering the workforce by means of sexual harassment and physical sexual abuse. African-American - False Folk Explanations The explanation that regular folk have used to explain racial inequality is racism. Racism is defined as the differential treatment of one racial or ethnic group based on a set of attitudes, beliefs and practices. Some groups are treated superiorly, while other groups are treated inferiorly (Kendall, p. 283, 5th ed). People have been stereotyping African-Americans for a long time. According to some people, African-Americans are lazy, violent, and often commit crimes; hence them occupying a large number of inner-city schools and prison. These are informal false folk explanations about why African-Americans are treated differently. These unfair explanations are still being used today and passed down from generation to generation. This ideology was used as a false folk explanation by the upper class in order to keep the lower class folks at the bottom of the social structure. They do not want the lower class to get wise about their situation and start improving their lifestyles. Even in modern times, these false folk explanations are still believed by many, as can be seen by the various acts of racism occurring today. They are still believed because of a theory sociologists put forward called the self-fulfilling prophecy. An example of a self-fulfilling prophecy is when an African-American person looks at himself and decides that if society has made a prediction for how he must lead his life, then that is what he should do. Years later, after he has done everything society has predicted for him, he will see that the prophecy indeed has been fulfilled (Kendall, p. 127, 5th ed). Hispanic-American - False Folk Explanations Hispanic-Americans have also faced false folk explanations for decades. Like African-Americans, racism is the reason to blame. Racism is a set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices that is used to justify the superior treatment of one racial or ethnic group and the inferior treatment of another racial or ethnic group (Kendall, p. 283, 5th ed). Informal explanations for inequality among Hispanic-Americans include laziness and excessive drug use. Hispanic-American families are also known for having many children and having a weak grasp of the English language, thus limiting them from finding good jobs, and being a candidate for cheap labor. These false folk explanations for Hispanic-Americans are created mostly by the upper class people in order to influence Hispanic-Americans into thinking that their place in society is at the bottom. This ideology is crucial if the upper class do not want to be overpowered and outnumbered. False folk explanations such as these are still widely believed because of the selffulfilling prophecy. Hispanic-Americans have been told these lies numerous times until they have come to believe it. When they believe the lies, they start acting upon it, thus fulfilling the prophecy that has been made about them (Kendall, p. 127, 5th ed). Native-American - False Folk Explanations For years, Native-Americans have been faced with inequality in society. When one racial or ethnic group treats another racial or ethnic group unfairly due to a set of attitudes, beliefs and practices, it is known as racism. Racism is the root of most problems Native-Americans have been facing in society (Kendall, p. 283, 5th ed). Some falsehoods involving Native-Americans include them being savage people and being unwilling to assimilate with society. Another popular explanation is Manifest Destiny. It is the belief that it is God’s intentions for European-Americans to conquer North America. Therefore, the Native-Americans had no right being there according to this destiny. Unfortunately, Native-Americans are still being discriminated in this day and age. Upper class folks continue putting forward these false folk explanations because they want to maintain their status in society. That is why such false explanations continue to be proposed today. Native-Americans are also afflicted with the self-fulfilling prophecy. When they were told these lies about their heritage, they start to believe them and act upon them, hence making the lies true. The prophecy has fulfilled itself due to their own actions (Kendall, p. 127, 5th ed). Women - False Folk Explanations Women have always been regarded as the weaker sex. The reason why this is so widely believed is due to sexism. Sexism is when the subordination of one sex based on the assumed superiority of the other sex occurs. In this case, the superior sex is male (Kendall, p. 318, 5th ed). Stereotypes surrounding women usually include how women are unable to control their emotions. Some people say that women are too weak and dumb compared to men. These same people also say that woman are born to play the role of a mother, and nothing further than that. These negative connotations have long been associated with women, causing them to be treated inferiorly compared to men. These false folk explanations continue to be brought forward by men because they do not want to be dominated by women. If women realize that they have a right to equality in society, men will lose their higher status. Therefore, this ideology is important in order for women to stay at the bottom of the social ladder. Like the other groups, women are unable to escape the self-fulfilling prophecy. As they are fed lies from childhood about how a woman should live, they begin to believe them and act exactly like those lies. When they act out those beliefs, the prophecy is fulfilled (Kendall, p. 127, 5th ed). Conclusion From the research I have done on the documentation, I was able to see how unequal these four groups were in society. We are told constantly that the United States is the land of opportunity and equality, but these documentations suggest otherwise. If there really was no inequality in society, these documentations would not exist. My eyes have been opened to how bad the living situations are for these four groups, and given me an aim to actually do something about it, and be active in striving for equality for AfricanAmericans, Hispanic-Americans, Native-Americans, and women. The scientific explanations have been extremely enlightening as to how inequality in society occurs. Our generation is so used to being spoon-fed all sorts of folk stories that we do not have the chance to listen to other theories and think on our own two feet. These scientific explanations made me learn that there are many different roles in society, and that resources have to be fought for. It has caused me to think and form my own opinion. Putting together a list of false folk explanations for these groups makes me see how prejudiced people can be based on physical attributes. People are judged unfairly due to their race, ethnicity, or gender. Dispelling these myths gives me a glimpse into what the world is really like and not following common folklore blindly. As a whole, this research paper made me more aware of my surroundings and not to believe everything that is spoon-fed to me. References Kendall, Diana. Sociology in Our Times – The Essentials. Thomson Wadsworth, 5th ed, 2006. Robertson, Ian. Sociology – A Brief Introduction. Worth Publishers, 1989. Macionis, John. Society – The Basics. Pearson Education Inc., 2006.