Prejudice & Discrimination


Introduction


I aim to talk about discrimination and prejudices and how they affect our day to day lives. I also aim to supply a definition for prejudice, discrimination, stereotyping and racism. Within the body of this assignment I will be talking about the different types of discrimination along with my personal thoughts on the subject. I will also be looking at ways to eradicate it from our daily lives as much as humanly possible. The civil and criminal justice system will be another topic I aim to cover to see if the term “gerrymandering" still takes place.


Discrimination comes in all forms. There is age discrimination, employment or job discrimination, racial discrimination, gender discrimination, reverse discrimination, sexual discrimination. There is also positive discrimination for instance if you let a blonde person out in traffic then you are positively discriminating against them.


Below are the definitions of the subjects I intend to explain throughout this essay. Racism - A belief that one race is superior to another. Prejudice - An unfavourable or favourable opinion formed against a person or group based on a stereotype. Stereotype - A generalized image of a person or group, which does not acknowledge individual differences and which is often prejudicial to that person or group. Discrimination – Be biased against, show prejudice against/towards, treat differently, favour.


I think prejudice is a learnt behaviour. This is called the Social Learning Approach. Children observe the adults around them and imitate them accordingly. Parents are normally the ones the children imitate most, and they are the most important models in their children’s eyes, therefore they will probably continue their prejudice into adult life. Thus encouraging children to categorise people according to group labels and shows the child that stereotyping is acceptable. (Woods B 2000) Stereotyping often results from, and leads to, prejudice and bigotry. If left unchecked prejudice and bigotry leads to discrimination, violence, and, in extreme cases, genocide. The cognitive part of prejudice is a stereotype, it is the set of shared beliefs we have about those people who belong to a particular social or physical category, for example fat people are jolly, people wearing glasses are intelligent, black people are good at sports, English people are cold. Beliefs such as these are acquired from other people. (Woods B 2000, pg 114)


Stereotype


A "stereotype" is a generalization about a person or group of persons. We develop stereotypes when we are unable or unwilling to obtain all of the information we would need to make fair judgments about people or situations. In the absence of the "total picture," stereotypes in many cases allow us to "fill in the blanks." Our society often innocently creates and perpetuates stereotypes, but these stereotypes often lead to unfair discrimination and persecution when the stereotype is unfavourable. For example, if we are walking through a street late at night and encounter three pensioners all wearing coats and scarves and walking with sticks, we may not feel as threatened as if we were met by three student males wearing hoods and hats. This is because we have made a generalization in each case. These generalizations have their roots in experiences we have had ourselves, read about in books and magazines, seen in movies or television, or have had related to us by friends and family.


In many cases, these stereotypical generalizations are reasonably accurate. Yet, in virtually every case, we are resorting to prejudice by ascribing characteristics about a person based on a stereotype, without knowledge of the total facts. By stereotyping, we assume that a person or group has certain characteristics. Quite often, we have stereotypes about persons who are members of groups with which we have not had firsthand contact. When we judge people and groups based on our prejudices and stereotypes and treat them differently, we are engaging in discrimination. This discrimination can take many forms. We may create subtle or overt pressures which will discourage persons of certain minority groups from living in a neighbourhood. Women and minorities have been victimized by discrimination in employment, education, and social services. We may shy away from people with a history of mental illness because we are afraid they may harm us. Women and minorities are often excluded from high employment positions in the business world.


In some cases,