Definition of Race in Sociology

The Concept of Race


Does race have any scientific validity, or is it a social construct without any biological meaning? Many mainstream scientists believe the latter. All modern humans originated in Africa and have only small variations in their genes. The race is understood to be a useful tool to elucidate human genetic diversity but is also understood to be a poorly defined marker of that diversity and an imprecise proxy for the relationship between ancestry and genetics (Gannon). Researchers of genomes from various parts of the world have found that there is no quantifiable genetic difference between people of African descent and those of European descent.

Even though there is no scientific proof to back up their theory many geneticists and social scientists still believe that human beings are genetically distinct and hold a special place in nature. There is no scientific validity when it comes to race and science. There is no biological gene that identifies a person by race. In the 19th and early 20th century, scientists believed “a race was the equivalent of a subspecies, so that it had meaningful biological utility (Ghose).

Race is a social constructed designed to place people into social boxes where they can be held down social and economically with privilege going to one group above others an example of this was Louis Agassiz and Samuel Morton’s book “Types of Mankind” (Understanding Race), Edward Long’s “History of Jamaica” where he viewed somewhere between whites and orangutans. In the 1820’s and 30’s, a Philadelphia physician named Samuel G. Morton collected and measured hundreds of human skulls to confirm that there were differences among the races. Morton was a proponent of polygenism, which theorized that the different races were different species, with separate origins. Morton assigned the highest brain capacity to Europeans—with the English highest of all. Although Morton was a scientist, he used his influence to make the case for black inferiority (Understanding Race).

Although there is clearly no scientific evidence or proof to support their claims that different races representing different species, proponents of the polygenist theory claimed to have believed that people of European decent represented those who were at the top of the hierarchy latter and those of African descent represented those at the bottom. Even Thomas Jefferson, founding father, and slave owner believed the misconception that blacks were a separate inferior species, “I advance it therefore as a suspicion only that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind” (Understanding race).

Frederick Douglass challenged the leading theorists of the American School of Anthropology, work by early “race scientists” who tried to prove that blacks were not the same species as whites, and their attempt to rob people of color of their history by claiming that the rulers of ancient Egypt were not Africans. The ramification and intentional damage of this pseudoscience can still be felt throughout minority communities, in particularly African American communities to this day hundreds of years later African Americans are still struggling to break the chains of social bondage placed upon them so many years ago, by a system that was designed to minimize and dehumanize them and other minorities. The culture and true history of African Americans are often stolen or altered to fit a more mainstream white American palate. The reality is biologically we all are almost identical, but socially and culturally we are viewed differently, and often treated as such.


Gannon, M. (2016, February 5). Race Is a Social Construct, Scientists Argue. Retrieved from

Ghose, T. (2015, June 17). The science of Race. Retrieved from

The Paradox of Freedom and Slavery. Retrieved from

One Race or Several Species. Retrieved from