Disciplines: Political Science, Sociology

Theory of the biologically determined basis of human social character. The term 'racism' is used critically of those employing such theory, rather than as a term of self description.

Humans are divided into biologically distinct groups whose characteristics are passed on by inheritance. Differences in ability, taste, aptitude and culture are thus explained by race.

The theory of race, which developed in the 19th century, was widely discredited after its employment by the Nazi regime as justification for the mass murder of Jews, gypsies, and others deemed inferior.

It has been re-employed in the second half of the 20th century by some conservative and right wing thinkers.

Also see: eugenics

David Miller et al., eds, The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought (Oxford, 1987)


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