Reynolds, Larry T.; Liebernan, Leonard
February 1984
Humanity & Society;Feb84, Vol. 8 Issue 1, p34
Academic Journal
The article presents a discussion on the concept of race and racism. During the feudal epoch in Western Europe, differences between classes of people were not so much imbued with the sanctity of nature as they were propped up by an even higher-order source of legitimation. Differences were taken to be God-given, with one's general position in the social order being largely fixed at birth. Social mobility was exceedingly limited. Generally speaking, one was either born to the land owners and was of the class of lords, or one was born to the land tillers and was a serf. When the old estate system was torn apart, the emergent forms of social differentiation among commodity producers and commodity exchangers gave rise to a spate of new theories alleging that one's position in the society was due to one's natural superiority. Even though, generally speaking, science can be said to mirror society's structure and workings more than it shapes them, that in no way implies that scientists are not to take responsibility for the impact that their reasoning and research exerts on social life. Science has its impact, and often that impact is socially harmful.


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