Taking race at face value / Ruth H. Burke.

Burke, Ruth H.
xii, 213 p. ; 29 cm.
Local subjects:
Penn dissertations -- Sociology.
Sociology -- Penn dissertations.
Although sociologists realize that racial categories and ethnic identities are socially constructed, in empirical research on race and ethnicity, racial and ethnic identities are usually treated as fixed. Furthermore, sociological theory has long established the dialectic relationship between observed and expressed race and ethnicity. However, despite extensive research documenting the contextually situated nature of expressed race and ethnicity, very few studies have examined whether observed race and ethnicity are similarly fluid. Using data from an original survey of the general population, this study investigates two aspects of observed race and ethnicity. The first is whether facial features and gender impact observed race and ethnicity. The second is whether respondents' background characteristics also influence observed race and ethnicity. This study finds that both facial features and target face gender shape observed race for target faces perceived as non-Hispanic. In addition, although facial features and target face gender are not correlated with ethnic classification as Hispanic, facial features are correlated with observed race for target faces perceived as Hispanic. Finally, respondents' ethnicity, age, level of education and workplace diversity are all correlated with observed race. This study demonstrates that like expressed race, observed race is contextually situated. Indeed, observed race is not entirely dependent on characteristics of the individual but also varies systematically by observer background. The results of this study also support prior research showing an increased racialization of Hispanics. Finally, this study illustrates the need for caution when analyzing data on race and the necessity of including both female target faces and observed ethnicity in studies of observed race.
Adviser: Grace Kao.
Thesis (Ph.D. in Sociology) -- University of Pennsylvania, 2013.
Includes bibliographical references.
Kao, Grace, advisor.
Charles, Camille Zubinsky committee member.
Flippen, Chenoa committee member.
University of Pennsylvania. Sociology.
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