Discrimination On The Basis Of Prejudice
We see that throughout the history of humans, there have been prejudice and discrimination. By prejudice we mean attitudes that are inflexible and irrational, behaviors as well as opinions being held by the members of groups regarding another group while discrimination is referring to behaviors being directed against another group. By being prejudiced it usually refers to being comprised of preconceived notions regarding other cultural practices. There are two different kinds of prejudice, the negative and the positive both preconceived and not easy to change. The negative being discriminative.
By practicing discrimination, one is expecting to safeguard their selfish interests through the denial of access to those whom they think as being unworthy. Despite the informed modern mind, it is sad that there is still an existence of racial and ethnical prejudices directed towards the minority. The following are some major examples of discrimination on the basis of prejudice:
- There is that of the Jews. They have been enduring racially motivated persecution for hundreds of years. The largest atrocity committed against them was during World War II. During this time millions of Jews were detained and killed in German concentration camps.
- There is the South Africa's Apartheid that lasted from 1949-1994 where non-white especially the black communities were subjected to unfair treatment in work no voting and lived separately. It is unfortunate that this is still prevalent to date with on and off xenophobic attacks.
- There is the America's unfair detention of Japanese popularly referring to them as Jap in concentration camps living in adverse conditions where many died. This racial segregation being spurred by the onset of WWII WHEN Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
Sources Of Prejudice
According to academic think tanks, some of the emotionality found in prejudice comes from deep within ones psych (subconscious) hence attitudes which make someone to get rid of emotional inferiority through projection to a minority group. They use certain people as scapegoats (the ones who do not have power being unfairly blamed) this way their anxiety and uncertainty are minimized through attribution of complex problems to a simplified cause: "That group is the reason why am having these problems". Social research by sociologists across the world has proven that prejudice and poor self esteem are fundamentally related. People use their hate for certain groups(such as minorities) to increase their self-esteem and value.
Some of the recurring social factors aid to there being prejudice and discrimination as identified by Social scientists are:
Parents passing these prejudices along to their children. Various sources of media has also been perpetuating improper stereotypical images directing them to specific groups of people such as the following:-
i. Ethnicity such as ethnic minorities,
ii. Gender such as on women
iii. Sexual orientation like gays and lesbians
iv. Physical capability such as the disabled, and the elderly.
2. Conforming Behaviors.
There is a lot of conformity as prejudices usually elicits support from their partners, therefore rejection of prejudices may result to losing social support. There can be formidable pressures to join the popular views within ones community.
3. Economic Benefits.
According to social studies, prejudice mainly escalates when groups of people are directly competing for jobs. Like in SouthAfrica, the locals are jobless and poor hence xenophobic attacks to vent out their frustrations.
4. Authoritarian Personality .
Due to their early socialization and on the basis of their unconscious fears, some people become susceptible to a thinking that is stereotypical. There is rigidity in conformation among people with a personality that is authoritarian as they readily submit to their seniors without question, readily avoid those they perceive to be less than them, and their sexual as well as religious opinions are intolerant. This authoritarian personality usually has its foundation in parenting that involved unloving and aloof disciplines triggering the child to learn to control their anxieties through attitudes which are rigid.
5. Ethnocentrism .
By ethnocentrism it means being comprised of the tendency of evaluating others' cultures via one's own cultural beliefs and values. A majority of cultures are comprised of their own ethnocentric inclinations usually involving stereotypical line of thinking.
6. Group Closure.
This is the process in which different groups have clear cut boundaries distinguishing themselves from others. For example the refusal to wed outside ones ethnic group.
7. Conflict Theory.
In conflict theory, privileged groups ensure that they do not compete for resources with minority groups hence holding onto their divisive social class, might, and wealth. Sometimes, they result to major acts of violence against their perceived threats in their bid to safeguard their interests. The result being violent retaliation from members of underprivileged groups while attempting to improve upon their circumstances.
Conformity as an Explanation of Prejudice and Discrimination
Influences that bring about an individual's inclination to be racist or sexist, for example, is likely to arise from the parents of the peers and being a group member. By conformation to social norms it means that people are able to adopt the normal set of behavior(s) being in association with specific groups or society.
Social norms these are the behaviors which are construed to be appropriate within a social group which is among the possible influencers on prejudice and discrimination. People's attitudes and behaviors may be prejudiced as a way of conforming to what they perceive to being a normality within their social groups.
The effect of Social Norms on Prejudice
There was an investigation by Minard (1952) on how social norms have an influence on prejudice and discrimination. There was an above and below ground observation of the behavior of black and white miners in a town in the southern United States.
Results: Below ground, that had a friendly behavior towards work colleagues as their social norm, 80 of the white miners had a friendly attitude towards the black miners. On the other hand above ground, where the whites exhibited prejudicial behavior as their social norm, this dropped to 20.
Solutions To Prejudice
Sociologists have for decades have been looking for ways to reduce and bring to an end conflicts and prejudices that is persistent among groups. Standing out are the following theories
i. The self esteem hypothesis which stipulates that by having a good education and greater sense of worth , peoples prejudices go away.
ii. Theory on contact hypothesis which stipulates that the most elaborate solution to prejudice is the bringing together of members coming from different groups in order for them to learn to look in positive light at their common experiences as well as backgrounds.
iii. Cooperation hypothesis theory which stipulates that groups in conflict necessity to cooperate by setting aside their selfish interests and coming together to learn by working for common goals.
iv. There is the legal hypothesis theory which stipulates that it is possible to eliminate prejudice through the enforcement of laws against discriminative behavior.
Up to now, there hasn't been a successful solution to prejudice that has an emphasis on change at a personal level. On the contrary, research unfortunately indicates that even people who are unprejudiced can, when subjected to specific conditions of war or financial struggles, end up being more prejudiced against their enemies. Even attempts on desegregating schools have not been having success, but most of these schools have seen the creation of ethnic groupings and gangs battling other groups in their bid to safeguard their unique identities.
There have been developments in the laws which have helped in changing some prejudiced attitudes. It is these changes in the law, which have enabled women to participate in electoral processes and activities or join graduate school. Also changes in law have made it possible for racial unification of public facilities in the U.S to occur. However, laws Don't have to necessarily change the attitudes of people. There are some cases, whereby new laws increase antagonistic attitudes directed to minority groups. There is also cooperative learning between students, despite being of good value to students, does have an assurance of bringing down incidences of hostility between conflicting groups. This is because cooperation is in most cases very minimal and brief hence unable to surmount all the influences in someone's life.
A large number of singular efforts in the elimination of prejudice are very basic in dealing with such an intricate phenomenon. This has compelled researchers to focus on increased holistic methodology of curbing ethnocentrism and cultural conflicts. The following are the conditions that need to be met prior to improvement of race relations improve:
Have a propensity to become better acquainted.
Have a desire to cooperate.
There to be an equal economic positions as well as social status.
There to be equal support from the society.
Minard, R. D. (1952). Race relationships in the Pocahontas coal field. Journal of Social Issues ,
Pettigrew, T. F. (1959). Regional differences in anti-Negro prejudice. Journal of abnormal psychology , 59(1), 28.
Rogers, C. A., & Frantz, C. (1962). Racial themes in Southern Rhodesia: the attitudes and behavior of the white population (p. 338). New Haven: Yale University Press.
McLeod, S. A. (2008). Prejudice and Discrimination. Retrieved from www.simplypsychology.org/prejudice.html
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