Mathias Bös

Professor of Applied Sociology, Phillips University of Marburg

Biography

Fall 2007: Sheila Biddle Ford Foundation Fellow

Race and Ethnicity – The History of Two Concepts in American Sociology

Project Description

Race and Ethnicity – The History of Two Concepts in American Sociology

The structure of group membership in modern democratic societies is constantly changing. This can be exemplified in the changing group position of African Americans and European immigrants in the USA during the 20th century. The book I am working on during my stay at the Du Bois Institute tells two different but intertwined stories, one of American sociology and the other of American society, in order to show how both influenced each other. During the last century the main dimensions of membership, analyzed in studies on American race and ethnic relations, shifted from the naturalized-biological to economic, civil and social, and finally to the cultural dimension of membership. Increasingly the concepts of race and ethnicity were used as codes for the degree of group discrimination; “races” are groups which are highly discriminated, whereas “ethnic groups” are on the verge of assimilation. By doing so these concepts reflect and establish group relations that make American society unique, compared to continental European societies.

You are here