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Race, theories of

DOI
10.4324/9780415249126-R022-1
DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-R022-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 23, 2018, from https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/race-theories-of/v-1

Article Summary

The first theories of race were attempts to explain why the peoples of Europe (or sometimes particular peoples within Europe) had developed a higher civilization than the peoples of other regions. They attributed inequality in development to different biological inheritance, undervaluing the importance of the learning process. Between the world wars social scientists demonstrated how many apparently natural differences, and attitudes towards other groups, were not inherited but learned behaviour. They asked instead why people should entertain false ideas about members of other groups. As the twentieth century comes to an end, it is claimed on the one hand that processes of racial group formation can be explained in the same terms as those used for explaining group phenomena in general. On the other hand it is maintained that the only possible theories are those explaining why, in particular societies and at particular times, racism assumes a given form.

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Citing this article:
Banton, Michael. Race, theories of, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-R022-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis, https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/race-theories-of/v-1.
Copyright © 1998-2018 Routledge.

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