In sociology, racialization or ethnicization is the processes of ascribing ethnic or racial identities to a relationship, social practice, or group that did not identify itself as such.[1] Racialization and ethnicization is often born out of the interaction of a group with a group that it dominates and ascribes identity for the purpose of continued domination. While it is often born out of domination, the racialized and ethnicized group often gradually identifies with and even embraces the ascribed identity and thus becomes a self-ascribed race or ethnicity. These processes have been common across the history of imperialism, nationalism, and racial and ethnic hierarchies.

Racialization of religion

An ongoing scholarly debate covers the racialization of religious communities. Adherents to Judaism and Islam are believed to possess characteristics despite many individual adherents to those religions not visibly sharing in those characteristics. This racialization extends to the descendants of the adherents, even though those descendants may often convert away from active observance of the religion of their forebears but also retain the lingering cultural aspects of the religion for familial and community purposes.

The most immediate effect of the racialization of religion is said to be the internalization of such racialization by the descendants of adherents, whereby the descendants of adherents accept and internalize their religiously-influenced familial culture as an ethnoracial distinction and identity. One of the applications of this racialization is nationalism, whereby the created race seeks to assert cultural and national aspirations which are compatible and accommodating to other groups which do not necessarily share in the experience of racialization. Another one of the applications of this racialization is racism and discrimination, whereby those who are racialized are barred from participation in any public or private function of society due to the negative "attributes" of the race assigned to them.

Racialization of labor

The racialization of labor is said to involve the segregation and appointment of workers based on perceived ethnic differences.[2] This racialization of labor is said to produces a hierarchical arrangement which limits employee agency and mobility based on their race. The process of racialization is reinforced through presupposed, stereotypical qualities which are imposed upon the racialized person by the racializer.[3] Racialization is then normalized by the promotion of "colourblindness" through the use of "soft" language which avoids highlighting ethnic differences.[3]


  1. ^ Omi, Michael & Howard Winant (1986). Racial formation in the United States: from the 1960s to the 1980s. Routledge & Kegan Paul.  
  2. ^ Marta Maria Maldonado, "'It is their nature to do menial labour': the racialization of 'Latino/a workers' by agricultural employers", Ethnic and Racial Studies, vol. 32 no. 6 (July 2009), 1026. Link (accessed April 14, 2011).
  3. ^ a b Marta Maria Maldonado, "Racial Triangulation of Latino/a Workers by Agricultural Employers", Human Organization, Vol. 65 No. 4, Winter 2006, 360. Link (accessed April 14, 2011).

See also