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Sociology 250

Comparative Ethnic Relations

Credits: 3

Length of Course: 14 weeks

Classroom Hours per Week: 4

Prerequisite: Sociology 110 or Anthropology 110, and 12 credits

Corequisite: English 100

Text: Carl E. James. Seeing Ourselves: Exploring Race, Ethinicity and Culture. 4th Edition.

Course Description:

This course offers an overview of the sociological study of ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ using examples from the Canadian context. It will introduce students to the processes involved in the social construction of ‘racial’ and ethnic categories with attention to the historical and contemporary outcomes of such categorization. By exploring how conceptions and experiences of race and ethnicity affect everyday life in Canada, we also investigate how ideas and practices of ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ emerge, shift over time, and become part of our culture. Topics such as racism, ethnocentrism, multiculturalism, immigration policy, First Nations’ relations, and the hyphenated identity among others will be studied. We study how individuals experience these social categories, the role of the state in creating and maintaining them, and how groups challenge them. We use a text book and handouts to help us examine how ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ are understood, performed, and experienced in contemporary Canadian society, and globally. Exams and a research essay will provide students venues to gain feedback and evaluation on their coursework. Attendance is mandatory.

Learning Objectives

  • a better understanding of the terms race, ethnicity, and culture
  • learning about the methods and theories of the sociological analysis of race, ethnicity, and culture
  • a familiarity with important concepts, debates and critique surrounding the study of race and ethnicity, the related topics and categories
  • gaining insight into the racialized history and policies of multiculturalism in Canada
  • fostering critical thinking and writing in order to hone analytical skills

Course Outline:

Week Chapter Content
Week 1 Introduction: Chap. 1 Seeing Ourselves: Exploring Race, Ethnicity and Culture
Concepts of race, ethnicity, culture; cultural analysis framework; telling stories
Weeks 2 & 3 Culture: Chap. 2 Seeing Ourselves: Exploring Race, Ethnicity and Culture
Conceptualizing culture; cultural diversity; stratification, cultural hegemony, ethno-racial diversity
Weeks 3 & 4 Constructing cultural identity: Chap. 3 Seeing Ourselves: Exploring Race, Ethnicity and Culture
Race and the social construction of identity; whiteness vs. the other
Weeks 5 & 6 Influences on identity: Chap. 4 Seeing Ourselves: Exploring Race, Ethnicity and Culture
Human behaviour theories; agents of socialization; coping with difference
Weeks 7 & 8 Racism & Equity: Chap. 7 Seeing Ourselves: Exploring Race, Ethnicity and Culture
Ideologies & practices of racism; discrimination, stereotyping, reverse racism, equity
Week 9 Identity, privilege & difference: Chap. 8 Seeing Ourselves: Exploring Race, Ethnicity and Culture
Cultural biases
Weeks 10 - 11 Immigration: Chap. 6 Seeing Ourselves: Exploring Race, Ethnicity and Culture
Overview of the history of Canadian immigration & policies; perceptions of immigrants
Weeks 12 - 13 Multiculturalism: Chap. 5 Seeing Ourselves: Exploring Race, Ethnicity and Culture
Diversity, melting pot, or multiculturalism? Immigrant populations in Canada and across the globe. Accommodating ‘difference’; policies and politics of multiculturalism


Attendance & Participation 10%
Midterm Exam 1 20%
Midterm Exam 2 20%
Research Essay 20%
Final Exam 30%



Agnes MacDonald, B.A. M.A. PhD. (British Columbia)

Transferability: see