A race is an organized grouping of human beings classified in terms usually seen as totally different in a particular society. The word race originally only meant common physical characteristics and subsequently to denote nationalities. From the 17th century the word race started to mean physical attributes. It became accepted as a general term for descriptions of peoples and was used to identify various types of races and their respective cultures.
There are three broad components of race that can be recognized today. First is ethnicity. It can be defined as the heritage that informs all members of a race, even though they may come from quite different geographical areas. The second component is physical traits or characteristics that are seen on a person in terms of skin color, hair color, height, weight, and similar physical traits. Finally there is the cultural identity, which is described by the cultural beliefs, practices and norms that guide members of a group. All these three components are often blended together into an ethnic identity that transcends the boundaries of race.
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, there has been much debate over the concepts of race and ethnicity. Some studies of human evolution have shown that genetic differences among human populations have resulted in cultural differences in behavior and attitudes toward people and their place in society. Similarly, some scientists have found strong genetic evidence suggesting that race does indeed play a role in human psychological traits and that human race is a social construct that is rooted in the history of human expansion out of Africa and the spread of independent groups across the globe. Most social constructionists would agree that race is a social construct because it is influenced by historical experiences of human societies. For example, a group of hunter-gatherers might regard all men of their group as members of the same race whereas a different group of agriculturalists might regard all humans of their group as members of different races.
Another issue at hand is the relationship between race and genetics. While most experts do not believe that there is any significant relationship between race and genetics, some geneticists argue that there is a very strong genealogical component to race that has been passed down through generations. These geneticists argue that there are genes that determine both race and ethnicity and that these genes may have originated several hundred thousand years ago through migration and gene mixing between various peoples. Many psychologists think that these genetic components that have been shaped through the history of human expansion are actually responsible for the sense of individualism and collectivism that many people today are willing to embrace as the basis for their sense of nationality or race.
Race and ethnicity may also be used as a way to predict or control the levels of economic inequality. Some researchers have shown that there are genetic differences between people who experience higher levels of economic success and those who have lower status and access to resources. These researchers have suggested that the sense of race or ethnicity may indeed serve as a motivator to do better in school, in work, and to achieve higher social status. This is because there is a genealogical component to these differences in the genetic makeup of people from different ethnic groups. Some research suggests that there is even a genealogical component to heightening educational opportunity. For example, some studies have found differences between children of lower socioeconomic status and those of higher status and this was found to be due to genetics.
As we can see, there is a close relationship between race and human diversity and the idea that race is purely a construct of human history is mistaken. The reality is that race is more complicated than most scientists previously thought and there is a genealogical component to it that determines both race and ethnicity. In fact, race may not even be entirely derived from genetics, but is a combination of genes that determine skin color, eye color, and hair color. If you would like to learn more about your ancestry and explore genetic ancestry testing, please visit the links below.