Race (classification of human beings)

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Race refers to classifications of humans into populations or groups often based on factors such as appearance based on heritable phenotypical characteristics or geographic ancestry, but also often influenced by and correlated with traits such as culture, ethnicity and socio-economic status.[1] As a biological term, race denotes genetically divergent human populations that can be marked by common phenotypic traits.[2] This sense of race is often used by forensic anthropologists when analyzing skeletal remains, in biomedical research, and in race-based medicine.[3] The study of shared traits among peoples is also conducted along ethnic lines, involving the endogamic history of groups. Racial groupings may correspond with patterns of social stratification, helping social scientists to understand the underlying disparities among racially defined groups of people.[4][5] Additionally, law enforcement utilizes race to create profiles of wanted suspects in an expeditious manner.

While scientists use the concept of race to make practical distinctions among fuzzy sets of traits, the scientific community feels that the idea of race is often used by the general public[6] in a naïve[7] or simplistic way, erroneously designating wholly discrete types of individuals. Among humans, race has no cladistic significance—all people belong to the same hominid subspecies, Homo sapiens sapiens.[8][9] Regardless of the extent to which race exists, the word "race" is problematic and may carry negative connotations.[10] Social conceptions and groupings of races vary over time, involving folk taxonomies[11][12][13] that define essential types of individuals based on perceived sets of traits. Scientists consider biological essentialism obsolete,[14] and generally discourage racial explanations for collective differentiation in both physical and behavioral traits.[7][15]

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