Race and Racism

Haluk Soydan

in Social Work

ISBN: 9780195389678
Published online December 2009 | | DOI:
Race and Racism


In many societies the social work profession operates in a racialized social and psychological environment. Racism is an important factor that has been associated with a range of negative outcomes, including unemployment, stigmatization, substance abuse, and limited access to education. Furthermore, because members of a “racial group” tend to develop collectively shared value systems, behavioral patterns, and lifestyles, they stand out as a group with specific characteristics relating to sex roles, peer relationships, marriage, childbearing, nutrition, physiological changes, and dealing with social, psychological, health, and mental health problems. Thus social workers have to work in an environment impacted with complex factors associated with race as a social construct. Historically the idea of different races is based on the assumption that there are distinct genetic differences between groups of human beings. However, it is not meaningful to categorize individuals in race groups based on biological and genetic characteristics. Racial categories are constructed by a group itself or others for the purpose of defining social boundaries and the domination of one (racial) group over other (racial) groups, resulting in racism. Typically social work literature is dedicated to exploring whether racial groups have specific needs and how these needs can be met by the social care services. In the literature and colloquial language, “race” is closely positioned to “ethnicity,” and “ethnicity” is closely positioned to “culture.” Therefore it is recommended that one view all three concept areas for a better understanding of how these concepts relate to each other.

Article.  5525 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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