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The Growth And Development Of Ideas On Race

3207 words - 13 pages

The Growth and Development of Ideas on Race

Without examining the past, our views today would be shallow and
misleading. In making comparisons it is important to look at aspects
of history to provide a more in depth understanding of certain social
phenomenon. As comparisons are made, ideas emerge which can raise our
levels of such understanding. In this way, by examining the meaning of
race two hundred years ago, we can discover that the concept of ‘race’
has evolved; it has changed over time and remains ever changing.
Concepts like ‘race’ demand us to study broader social structures and
their interaction with smaller social life; in order to do this, we
must understand history.

Before beginning to discuss ideas on ‘race’ and how they have changed
over time, it is important to acknowledge the problematic nature of
the term ‘race’. Cox (1948) states that there is no universally
accepted definition of race. However, in a sociological context, Cox
defines race as “any group of people that is generally believed to be,
and generally accepted as, a race in any given area of ethnic
competition” (1948:319)

Racial Ideology refers to a set of ideas which relate to ‘race’, in
the way of actions and consequences, for example, distinguishing
between more than one so called race to deem one superior. Ideas about
race and racism assume particular condition i.e. they take into
account the political and socio economic climate and historical era.

When referring to race as a concept, it is also important to consider
broader aspects such as race relations, racial difference and of
course, racism. After all, ideas which have emerged on race can affect
and will continue to affect all of the above. Above all, it is
important for us to understand that race is no static concept. It is
not the same within other countries even at the same time, and as a
result of this, it must be put into some historical and comparative

The earliest African soldier came to England in 210AD, over two
thousand years ago. There is further evidence of Africans one thousand
years ago, but after this, records seem to dry up. Five hundred years
later, their presence was once again documented, as free men who came
to trade with English merchants. By the 1560s the Slave Trade had
begun. This was a highly integrated global system operating in Africa,
Europe and the Americas, involving the forced transportation of
millions of Africans to the Americas. There was also an increased
African presence in Britain, which continued to grow into the 1570s,
which was made up mainly of Africans working as household servants,
prostitutes and court entertainers. At this time, the African
population was still relatively small in Britain, but by 1650 the
numbers had begun to steadily rise. The slaves were also used as

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