Race (human categorization)

  • a race is a grouping of humans based on shared physical or social qualities into categories generally viewed as distinct by society.[1] the term was first used to refer to speakers of a common language and then to denote national affiliations. by the 17th century the term began to refer to physical (phenotypical) traits. modern scholarship regards race as a social construct, an identity which is assigned based on rules made by society. while partially based on physical similarities within groups, race does not have an inherent physical or biological meaning.[1][2]

    social conceptions and groupings of races vary over time, involving folk taxonomies[3] that define essential types of individuals based on perceived traits. scientists consider biological essentialism obsolete,[4][page needed] and generally discourage racial explanations for collective differentiation in both physical and behavioral traits.[5][6][7][8][9]

    even though there is a broad scientific agreement that essentialist and typological conceptualizations of race are untenable, scientists around the world continue to conceptualize race in widely differing ways, some of which have essentialist implications.[10] while some researchers use the concept of race to make distinctions among fuzzy sets of traits or observable differences in behaviour, others in the scientific community suggest that the idea of race often is used in a naive[5] or simplistic way,[11] and argue that, among humans, race has no taxonomic significance by pointing out that all living humans belong to the same species, homo sapiens, and (as far as applicable) subspecies, homo sapiens sapiens.[12][13]

    since the second half of the 20th century, the association of race with the ideologies and theories of scientific racism has led to the use of the word race itself becoming problematic.[14] although still used in general contexts, race has often been replaced by less ambiguous and loaded terms: populations, people(s), ethnic groups, or communities, depending on context.[15][16]

  • defining race
  • historical origins of racial classification
  • modern scholarship
  • views across disciplines over time
  • political and practical uses
  • see also
  • references
  • bibliography
  • further reading
  • external links

A race is a grouping of humans based on shared physical or social qualities into categories generally viewed as distinct by society.[1] The term was first used to refer to speakers of a common language and then to denote national affiliations. By the 17th century the term began to refer to physical (phenotypical) traits. Modern scholarship regards race as a social construct, an identity which is assigned based on rules made by society. While partially based on physical similarities within groups, race does not have an inherent physical or biological meaning.[1][2]

Social conceptions and groupings of races vary over time, involving folk taxonomies[3] that define essential types of individuals based on perceived traits. Scientists consider biological essentialism obsolete,[4][page needed] and generally discourage racial explanations for collective differentiation in both physical and behavioral traits.[5][6][7][8][9]

Even though there is a broad scientific agreement that essentialist and typological conceptualizations of race are untenable, scientists around the world continue to conceptualize race in widely differing ways, some of which have essentialist implications.[10] While some researchers use the concept of race to make distinctions among fuzzy sets of traits or observable differences in behaviour, others in the scientific community suggest that the idea of race often is used in a naive[5] or simplistic way,[11] and argue that, among humans, race has no taxonomic significance by pointing out that all living humans belong to the same species, Homo sapiens, and (as far as applicable) subspecies, Homo sapiens sapiens.[12][13]

Since the second half of the 20th century, the association of race with the ideologies and theories of scientific racism has led to the use of the word race itself becoming problematic.[14] Although still used in general contexts, race has often been replaced by less ambiguous and loaded terms: populations, people(s), ethnic groups, or communities, depending on context.[15][16]