Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Am J Public Health. 2001 Jul;91(7):1049-55.

Paradigm lost: race, ethnicity, and the search for a new population taxonomy.

Author information

  • 1Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences, Brooklyn College (CUNY), 2900 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11210, USA.


The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently recommended that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reevaluate its employment of "race," a concept lacking scientific or anthropological justification, in cancer surveillance and other population research. The IOM advised the NIH to use a different population classification, that of "ethnic group," instead of "race." A relatively new term, according to the IOM, "ethnic group" would turn research attention away from biological determinism and toward a focus on culture and behavior. This article examines the historically central role of racial categorization and its relationship to racism in the United States and questions whether dropping "race" from population taxonomies is either possible or, at least in the short run, preferable. In addition, a historical examination of "ethnicity" and "ethnic group" finds that these concepts, as used in the United States, derive in part from race and immigration and are not neutral terms; instead, they carry their own burden of political, social, and ideological meaning.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center