What is the significance of Figure 1.1? What are some of the limitations and problems with the group names used in this graph? Are the group names “social constructions”? How?

Chapter 1


1. What is the significance of Figure 1.1? What are some of the limitations and problems with the group names used in this graph? Are the group names “social constructions”? How? What kind of society should the United States strive to become? In your view, does the increasing diversity of American society represent a threat or an opportunity? Should we acknowledge and celebrate our differences, or should we strive for more similarity? What possible dangers and opportunities are inherent in increasing diversity? What are the advantages and disadvantages of stressing unity and conformity?

2. What groups should be considered “minorities”? The five-part definition presented in this chapter developed with racial and ethnic minorities in mind. Does it apply to gay and lesbian Americans? How? How about people who are left-handed or people who are very overweight? Explain and justify your answer.

3. What does it mean to say that something is a social construction? As social constructions, how are race and gender the same and how do they differ? What does it mean to say, “Gender becomes a social construction–like race–when it is treated as an unchanging, fixed difference and then used to deny opportunity and equality to women?

4. Define, in your own words, and explain each of the following terms and provide examples of them: prejudice, discrimination, ideological racism and institutional discrimination.

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