Difference between race and ethnicity

Key difference - race vs. ethnicity

Race and ethnicity are two complex and often problematic but related concepts that are used to categorize and identify people. Ethnicity is viewed as a cultural identity based on common ancestry, language, and tradition, while race is viewed as a biological classification based on DNA and bone structure. This is the main difference between race and ethnicity. However, the use of the word race has been problematic in recent years. Although this word is still used in the general context, it is now often replaced by other words that are less emotionally charged, such as B. People or community.

This article explains

1. What is race? - Significance, characteristics and functions

2. What is ethnicity? - Significance, characteristics and functions

3. What is the difference between race and ethnicity? Difference Between Race and Ethnicity - Summary of the comparison between race and ethnicity

What is race

In biology, race is a population within a species that is different in some way, particularly a subspecies; they typically have relatively minor morphological and genetic differences. Although all humans are of the same species, Homo sapiens, and the subspecies, Homo sapiens sapiens, there are small genetic variations in humans that result in different physical characteristics, such as interracial does not indicate a large difference in the DNA out. For example, the DNA of two randomly selected people would vary by less than 0.1 percent.

However, some sociologists view race as a social construct, not a biological difference. Determining race by skin color (black and white) is one of the most important historical breed categories. This was used as a tool for oppression, slavery, and conquest. Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negro are also three alleged main races of humanity. However, it is often difficult to racially discriminate by looking at a person's physical appearance without studying genetics.

Difference between race and ethnicity

What is ethnicity?

Ethnicity is a cultural phenomenon. It is an identification based on common ancestry, language and cultural tradition. Ethnicity can be characterized by religion, eating habits, customs, clothing, etc. To be a member of an ethnic group, you must adhere to some or all of these practices.

A person's ethnicity can be determined from a person's physical characteristics, although the way a person dresses could be indicative of their ethnicity. For example, if you see a woman wearing a sari, you automatically assume she is Indian. It is also important to note that a person can hide their ethnicity by not sticking to clothing that is unique to a particular ethnicity.

An ethnic group can be further divided into clans or tribes. These clans or tribes could later form their own ethnic groups, or some different ethnic groups could join together to form one ethnic group. In addition, it is possible for individuals to switch from one ethnic group to another.

Ethnicity and race are related but complex concepts. Suppose a Chinese child is adopted by an Irish family. This kid may feel Irish: they eat Irish food, they speak Irish English, they know Irish history and culture. He may not know anything about Chinese culture, language, or history. But he is always treated as Chinese or Mongoloid by society, especially because his racial background is evident from his physical characteristics.

Key difference - race vs. ethnicity

Nakhi people

Difference between race and ethnicity

Type of classification

Breed: Breed is considered a biological classification.

Ethnicity: Ethnicity is viewed as a cultural identity.


Race: A person's race can sometimes be determined by physical appearance.

Ethnicity: A person's ethnicity can sometimes be determined by their clothing.


Race: Members of one race cannot join another race.

Ethnic group: Members of one ethnic group can join another ethnic group.

Image courtesy:

"Asiatiska folk, Nordisk familjebok " By G. Mützel - Nordisk familjebok (1904), vol. 2, Asiatiska folk [1] (the color version is available in this zip archive) .- Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig., (Public Domain. )) via Commons Wikimedia

“Naxi Musicians I” by Peter Morgan from Beijing, China - Flickr, (CC BY 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the author: Hasa

Hasa holds a BA in English, French and Translation Studies. She is currently reading for a Masters in English. Her areas of interest include literature, language, linguistics and also food.