Sociological perspective of study of families’ greately overlaps sociological study of ethnicity and race. Sociology can be defined as the study of human society. One of the main goals of a sociological research is to apply the findings to welfare and social policy. This paper seeks to explain how sociological study of families overlap with sociological study of race and families. Furthermore, it will look at race and ethnicity relates to the ways that families’ form and the problems they face. Finally, the paper shall ascertain some of the challenges sociologists face in trying to understand the complex ways that race, poverty, social structure, and personal choices interact in the context of a family life. It shall base the findings on the African American and Latino families.
A family can be defined as a group of people who are related by blood or marriage. Normally, these are people you are related to for as long as you live and in death. A race can be defined as a population of a particular people who are considered to be unique and different from other people, focusing on the physical differences, which may either be imagined or real. These physical characteristics may be the color of the skin, hair or even the facial appearance. The difference between ethnicity and race is that while race is based on the physical characteristics, ethnicity is based on social characteristics. An ethnic group can, therefore, be defined as a population of a particular people who are different and unique, basing on aspects such as their traditions, culture, language, nationality, tribe or religious faith (Barbara 102).
There has been a lot of controversy among the sociologists on how to classify family, race and ethnicity. The three aspects these are race, family and ethnicity overlap. In the United States, the sociologists have reconstructed the issue of the race, family and ethnicity differently. As a result, there are three races in United States, the African Americans, the European Americans and the Native Americans. Anyone whose appearance was like an African was classified by the American government as African. For one to be a European- American his or her ancestors had to be purely whites. On the other hand, the Native Americans had to have a given percentage of European blood. The offspring of a European mistress or master and an African slave was taken as African. From such a definition, statistical results, released in 2009, showed that the African Americans were 12.1 percent, European Americans 69.1 percent and Native Americans 0.7 percent (Templeton 457). From these definitions and the United States classification, the three aspects of ethnicity, family and race overlap.
Race and ethnicity related and still relates in a big way to how families form. In the United States, laws existed that barred interracial marriages for a very long time. As a matter of fact, the laws that barred interracial marriages were only abolished in 1967 in the United States. Hitherto to that time those people who attempted marrying from another race were jailed or fined. Enforcing this law interfered with the formation of families. It is true that the problems of race and ethnicity bring not only family formation but also other great family predicaments. It is important to note that the way of assigning of various races in America was meant to maintain different group’s position and roles.
The Africans were meant to remain slaves and to serve the European. The Europeans never wanted anybody with any black characteristics to enjoy their privileged position roles. That is why interracial marriage laws were instituted and any offspring with African blood was considered African. The Africans and their offspring were slaves, who helped the white race to create wealth. The African Americans had no legal claim to the American lands; hence, they were poor squatters, leading to low economic power, creating family problems.
Racism and ethnicity in the United States has led to prejudice, bias and discrimination of families. There are races and ethnic groups in the United States who are referred as the minority groups. In the United States, these groups are the Latino and the African Americans. These two groups are despised by the superior group that is the European Americans (Barbara 112). These minority groups are considered intellectually inferior and their young men are always seen as dangerous. This has led to stigmatizing of the members of these family groups. Moreover, according to the research, European whites are three times more likely to be employed than African-Americans in the United States. In addition, a research by Hispanic center in 2002, ascertaining the net worth by ethnicity and race, showed that the net worth of blacks was $7932, while those of whites was $88 651 (Templeton 455). The African–American, according to this research, are poor with a lot of social problems like high crime rate in their residential places, have poor housing and medical heath care.
Many challenges face sociologists in understanding race, poverty, social structure and personal choices of Latino and African American families. First and foremost is the various definition of race by different sociologists. Many European sociologists consider physical appearance as the defining factor about race and ethnicity. They fail to include the biological factor, which is an important component of ethnicity. This makes it very difficult, when collecting data and its subsequent interpretation (Thévenot 79).