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Herbert Blumer's "Race Prejudice As A Sense of Group Position"

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Amanda Bancroft

on 2 October 2012

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Transcript of Herbert Blumer's "Race Prejudice As A Sense of Group Position"

"Race Prejudice as a
Sense of Group Position" Herbert Blumer's Blumer first coined term
"symbolic interactionism,"
which refers to the "patterns of communication, interpretation
and adjustment
between individuals." Background Early development of
Blumer's theoretical
approach came out of
the work of
George Herbert Mead. Advocate of
ethnographic research
that incorporates
subjects' viewpoints
and interpretations
of reality. Race Prejudice Matter of
relationships
between
social groups Collective process based on group interaction, not
individual feelings Dependent
on conception
of racial
identification Dominant Group 2. Feeling that
subordinate
group is alien 1. Feeling of superiority 3. Claims
to privilege
and advantage 4. Fear and
suspicion Positional Arrangement Feeling that
subordinate
group is alien Feeling of superiority Proprietary
claims Fear and
suspicion ALL MUST BE PRESENT places subordinate
group BEYOND place subordinate group BELOW EXCLUDE subordinate group cause emotional RECOIL from
subordinate group "A given race
is alright,
'in its place'." The source of race
prejudice lies in a
felt challenge to
the sense of
group position. Supplies framework
of perception, standard
of judgment, patterns
of sensitivity, &
emotional proclivities Transcends the
feelings of individual
members & gives
group a common
orientation Guides,
incites,
cows,
& coerces Race prejudice a
protective device
to preserve integrity
and position of
dominant group,
but... Sense of Group Position Requires: An abstract
image of the
subordinate group
developed
through: talk tales stories gossip anecdotes myths Not created through
concrete experiences,
but through characterizations by dominant group elites/
representatives
in the public arena. "BIG Events" especially through Attract widespread attention and become voice/action of dominant group Can be
manufactured
to... Frame specific
issues to
predetermine interpretations in dominant group
interest Especially powerful
when events signify subordinate group
as "UNFIT" or a "THREAT"
reinforcing social
position Thus, entrenchment, power, and impermeability of race
prejudice directly related to
degree which social order is
rooted in the dominant group's
sense of social position. ? Weaknesses Focuses on social,
but doesn't account
for other structural processes by which
race prejudice
is reproduced Race prejudice
dependent upon elite
interpretation of
"big events" - declines
when interpretations
rosy, harmonious Color-blind racism? Armchair
multi-
culturalism? media Strengths Illuminates
collective, interactive
nature of prejudice
rather than just
the personal &
experiential group
process
=
group
responsibility IMPORTANCE
OF GROUP
SANCTIONS derogatory language "not of
our kind" exclusivity,
control THREAT history Doesn't
address realities
or experiences of
"subordinate"
group. Incomplete picture of the interaction Paves the way
for others, like
Bobo/Hutchings,
to further investigate
the out-group
experience Methodology
criticized for
not being very
rigorous (although
even they admit
they don't fully
address these
concerns) Transportable
to multiple types
of prejudice Questions Where is
framework still
resonant in the
other work we
read this week?
What do
we think is
useful/worth
keeping? What
don't we like? Thoughts?
Comments? In what
ways is it
transportable?
Full transcript