Home » Help With Sociology Assignment » PREJUDICE AND DISCRIMINATION 

Whenever it, is possible to assign people to different groups, there is’ a tendency to  velop stereotypes about them (prejudice) and
to treat them on the basis of these qualities (discrimination).’ Prejudice comes from two Latin words, prae (before) and, judicum (a judgment). It implies a judgment expressed before knowing all the facts. There seem to be five main roots of prejudice. One is our ethnocentrism which inclines us to think well of those in our own group and ill of others. Another js the simple fact that every day we make judgments of people about whom we know little; stereotypes, though never entirely accurate, ate handy guides [Snyder, . 1982}. Third, we generalize from our own experience with individuals of other groups. Fourth, we tend to select stereotypes which support our beliefs about what the relationships and privileges of different groups should be. Finally, we tend to develop prejudices against people who compete with us. In ethnic relations, discrimination is treating people on the basis of group classification rather than individual characteristics, Discrimination occurs when, in hiring an employee, admitting students to· school, renting a house, selecting a mate, or anyone of countless situations, we accept or reject a person because of his or her ethnic identity without seriously considering personal characteristics. Discrimination has usually been practiced by a dominant grOlJP to protect its privileges; A new policy of “reverse discrimination” favors members of a subordinate group whose members may be handicapped by either past or present discrimination

Prejudice’may distort our judgment and make us unable to reach rational decisions. At one time, prejudice was a major concern of students of ethnic relations. We believed that discrimination was caused by prejudiced attitudes and that to change actions, we must  first change attitudes, Later, it was recognized that this was an oversimplification and that perhaps discriminatory actions were more a cause than an effect of prejudiced attitudes [Blumer, 1955]. Gunnar Myrdal, a Swedish anthropologist, in his monumental study, All American Dilemma (1944, p. 101], refers to prejudices as “beliefs with a purpose”-the purpgse being to justify prevailing racial practices. In a classic series of research studies, Adorno [1950] found that an insecure person may be more inclined to accept prejudice uncritically and to hold to it tenaciously than one who is more self-assured, However, prejudice is not confined to the emotionally insecure and is widespread if strongly supported by society. A person’s prejudices arise, not so much from psychological immaturity, as from socialization in the prejudiced attitudes held in his or her society [Bloom, 1972, p. 67]. A direct attack on prejudice is often futile, since people tend to develop attitudes supporting their way of life. Hence, those who wish to change ethnic patterns today are more concerned about changing the ways of life embedded in ethnic relationships. Lecturesand books, even movies and television, may have only a limited effect on prejudice, but a demonstration that members of different groups can and do live harmoniously should diminish the type of prejudice which grows out of ethnic conflict [Davis, 1978, p. 287]. A great deal of research in the 1950s and 1960s showed that a direct attack upon discriminatory practices was more effective than attempts to persuade people to change their attitudes and prejudices [Horton
and Leslie, 1981, pp. 32Cr328]. Little research on prejudice has been done in recent years, with the sociological Abstract listing twenty articles under “prejudice” during 1980 and , 1981, of which only four dealt with the nature, origins, and causes of prejudices. Most of the rest were studies of the extent of prejudice, showing a continued downward trend indecent years [Tuch, 19R1]. As illustrated in Table 16-3, blacks and whites tend to take different views of the condition of blacks, with most whites feeling it is pretty good and many blacks finding it unsatisfactory. Banton [1967, p. 388], a British sociologist, points out that these are typical majority and minority viewpoints. The majority stresses progress compared with the past, while the minority emphasizes the distance still to go. Discrimination remains a lively research topic, with seventy-eight journal articles indexed in the editions of the Sociological Abstract for 1980 and 1981. Discrimination has greatly declined, yet it remains. For example, a recent study analyzes the several situations and practices which make it more difficult for blacks than for whites to accumulate ownership equity in housing [Parcel, 1982]. It will, at best, be a long time before all vestiges of discrimination disappear.