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In sociology, racialization or ethnicization is the processes of ascribing ethnic or racial identities to a relationship, social practice, or group that did not identify itself as such.[1] Racialization and ethnicization is often born out of the interaction of a group with a group that it dominates and ascribes identity for the purpose of continued domination. While it is often born out of domination, the racialized and ethnicized group often gradually identifies with and even embraces the ascribed identity and thus becomes a self-ascribed race or ethnicity. These processes have been common across the history of imperialism, nationalism, and racial and ethnic hierarchies.

Racialized incorporation[edit]

The process of racialization can affect newly arriving immigrants as well as their second-generation children in the United States. The concept of racialized incorporation bridges the idea of assimilation with critical race studies in general and the concept of racialization in particular.[2] While immigrants may possess specific ethnic and cultural identities associated with their countries of origin, once they arrive in the U.S., they are incorporated into a society that is largely organized along the lines of race. The racial hierarchy in the United States is pervasive in many aspects of life including housing, education, and employment. The racialized incorporation perspective argues that regardless of the ethnic and cultural differences across immigrant groups, racial identification is the ultimate and primary principle of social organization in the United States. So an immigrant from Sweden and his/her U.S. born second-generation children are likely to be incorporated into the White mainstream, while an immigrant from Ghana and his/her U.S. born second-generation children are likely to be incorporated into the Black community. Because the experiences of Whites and Blacks in U.S. society diverge in most areas of social life, the racialized category that immigrants and their children are incorporated into will largely determine their lived experiences and opportunities in the United States. The concept of racialized incorporation is relatively new and was recently applied in a study of self-employment in the United States [2]

Racialization of religion[edit]

An ongoing scholarly debate covers the racialization of religious communities. Adherents to Judaism and Islam are believed to possess characteristics despite many individual adherents to those religions not visibly sharing in those characteristics. This racialization extends to the descendants of the adherents, even though those descendants may often convert away from active observance of the religion of their forebears but also retain the lingering cultural aspects of the religion for familial and community purposes.

The most immediate effect of the racialization of religion is said to be the internalization of such racialization by the descendants of adherents, whereby the descendants of adherents accept and internalize their religiously-influenced familial culture as an ethnoracial distinction and identity. One of the applications of this racialization is nationalism, whereby the created race seeks to assert cultural and national aspirations which are compatible and accommodating to other groups which do not necessarily share in the experience of racialization. Another one of the applications of this racialization is racism and discrimination, whereby those who are racialized are barred from participation in any public or private function of society due to the negative "attributes" of the race assigned to them.

Racialization of labor[edit]

The racialization of labor is said to involve the segregation and appointment of workers based on perceived ethnic differences.[3] This racialization of labor is said to produce a hierarchical arrangement which limits employee agency and mobility based on their race. The process of racialization is reinforced through presupposed, stereotypical qualities which are imposed upon the racialized person by the racializer.[4] Racialization is then normalized by the promotion of "colourblindness" through the use of "soft" language which avoids highlighting ethnic differences.[4]


  1. ^ Omi, Michael & Howard Winant (1986). Racial formation in the United States: from the 1960s to the 1980s. Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 0-7102-0970-3. 
  2. ^ a b Chaudhary, Ali R. (2015-06-01). "Racialized Incorporation: The Effects of Race and Generational Status on Self-Employment and Industry-Sector Prestige in the United States". International Migration Review. 49 (2): 318–354. doi:10.1111/imre.12087. ISSN 1747-7379. 
  3. ^ Marta Maria Maldonado, "'It is their nature to do menial labour': the racialization of 'Latino/a workers' by agricultural employers", Ethnic and Racial Studies, vol. 32 no. 6 (July 2009), 1026. Link (accessed April 14, 2011).
  4. ^ a b Marta Maria Maldonado, "Racial Triangulation of Latino/a Workers by Agricultural Employers", Human Organization, Vol. 65 No. 4, Winter 2006, 360. Link (accessed April 14, 2011).

See also[edit]