Research of diverse issues is usually guided by the corresponding associations. Thus, the study of “race” as a scholarly and social problem is provided under the statements of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and American Sociological Association (ASA). Both organizations provide their views on social scientific research on race, which are expected to be followed by scholars in the United States. This essay reviews the major concepts of these statements and discovers how they are applied in research articles dedicated to the issue of race.
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The statement developed by AAA, although adopted by the Executive Board, is not a result of a consensus due to a diversity of approaches to “race” research. Still, it comprises the ideas of the majority of contemporary anthropologists and thus can be applied to social research. One of AAA’s ideas is that despite the physical differences of representatives of races, they should be studied not only in the context of biological distinctions.
Moreover, contemporary scholars tend to treat race as a social mechanism invented to classify individuals in the colonial situation (The American Anthropological Association, 1998). In the course of history, race obtained superior and inferior traits. Racial segregation went further than the colonial situation and gave rise to social, economic, and political disparities, which led to the development of Hitler’s ideology during World War II. In the contemporary context, the cultural aspect of the race, as well as cultural behavior, gets popular. Finally, the attitude of society is suggested by AAA as a factor that has an impact on the performance of people with certain racial backgrounds. Still, the AAA statement lacks attention to the consequences of racial segregation.
The statement of ASA focuses on the significance of data collection in the context of social scientific research on race. They treat race as “a complex, sensitive, and controversial topic” (The American Sociological Association, 2003, p. 4). ASA claims that race is frequently decisive in relationships between individuals involving superiority or inferiority of different nature. They suggest researching race as a social construct not focusing on any biological categories similarly to studying families.
The social concept of race implies different aspects. For example, one of them is a social reality and racial classifications, which is crucial for a multinational society in the United States. Another important issue comprises the consequences of race and race relations in social institutions, which usually presuppose racial stratification. This stratification can be found in many social activities such as mating or marriage and the degree of access to certain resources (The American Sociological Association, 2003).
Some more research highlights suggested by ASA are race and ethnicity as factors in social institutions. These factors usually work for the job market, neighborhood segregation, and even health. ASA concludes about the significance of sociological research on race because it attracts attention to social disparities on racial background thus providing an opportunity to reduce inequalities. Nevertheless, the ASA statement will benefit from including more historical background of racial disparities.
Research problems that involve racial aspects are diverse. For example, Ahmad (2002) attracts attention to the issue of homeland insecurities found in cases of racial violence as a consequence of the September 11 events. The researcher claims that the tragedy resulted in immigration restrictions for young Muslim men. Moreover, attitude to Arab and Muslim immigrants became worse. The issues discussed by Ahmad (2002) are related to the ASA statement, which defines the consequences of race and race relations in social institutions.
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Sethi (2004) raises the troubling concern of racism she faced at work. The problem is that individuals who come to the United States and are not White are likely to be discriminated against and insulted on racial background. However, discrimination is traditionally considered to be used against the American African population while Asians and other people of color also suffer from it. The author touches on the concepts of race and ethnicity as factors in social institutions, which are found in the ASA statement.
Alexander (2004) focuses on the issue of identity and the so-called “performing race” as an indicator of racial authenticity. The author recalls the process of his self-perception as a person of color, which was a part of psychological development. He remembers many cases of racial discrimination found at educational institutions and at work that became an integral part of society and is frequently treated as normal. One of the troubling moments was the attribution of lower performance to Black students, which is not always true. The ideas of Alexander (2004) recall the concepts of inferiority and superiority mentioned in both AAA and ASA statements.
On the whole, the statements of AAA and ASA touch the basic problems related to race research. Still, there is a need for developing a joint statement that will cover all crucial aspects and empower the study of race to eliminate the undiscovered areas. A benefit of both statements is that they treat race as a social construct, which can contribute to the future solution of racial problems due to evidence obtained through research. Further discussion can be dedicated to the role of defining current problems for resolving racial disparities in the future.
Ahmad, M. (2002). Homeland insecurities: Racial violence the day after September 11. Social Text 20(3), 101-115.
Alexander, B. (2004). Racializing identity: Performance, pedagogy, and regret. Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies, 4(1), 12-27. Web.
The American Anthropological Association. (1998). AAA Statement on race. Web.
The American Sociological Association. (2003). The importance of collecting data and doing social scientific research on race. Washington, DC: American Sociological Association.
Sethi, R. C. (2004). Smells like racism. Race, Class, and Gender in the United States: An Integrated Study, 143.