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Prejudice and Discrimination

Introduction

In many parts of the world and throughout history, prejudice and discrimination exist in different forms. Racism, nepotism, gender discrimination and discrimination against people with disabilities are examples of prejudice and discrimination. Prejudice concerns the irrational and inflexible feelings or thoughts retained by a particular individual or group of persons towards an individual or group of people. Discrimination is the act of developing unwarranted behavior while directing them towards an individual or group of persons. This research project determines the various causes of discrimination and prejudice in contemporary society. The idea is to determine the various ways in which discrimination and prejudice present itself in society together with its effects on society.

Literature review

Because of the existing differences among the societies in the world as well as the differences within the workplaces, many researchers have conducted extensive surveys to determine the sources of differences. As a result, comprehensive literature on discrimination and prejudice is born including the major causes of these kinds of discrimination and prejudice as well as the possible mitigation measures to avoid extremes of the prejudices and discrimination.

According to the study by Snellman(2007), discrimination and prejudice emerge from different sources. Although the study determines that, there exists no precise cause of discrimination and prejudice, subconscious attitudes and perceptions influence people to develop feelings of discontentment concerning others while directing the feelings towards the target population. Discriminating individuals often use other people as scapegoats. The research shows that discrimination and prejudice exist in a very complex state demonstrating the diverse factors and behaviors causing different forms of discrimination including nepotism, racism, ethnicity, stereotyping and other forms of prejudice.

The conclusions from the research by Tileagă (2015) reveal that economic benefits and socialization are major predictors and causes of prejudice and discrimination. For example, the differences in income between individuals influence the formation of a particular social class. Notably, the rise in lifestyle somewhat makes people develop a certain attitude towards low-income earners or people without adequate money to spend. In this regard, the rise in lifestyle not only influence exclusion and seclusions but also makes people have some perceptions towards other individuals. Consequently, a particular group of people develops attitudes towards the other while discriminating each other.

Whitley Jr. & Kite (2016) determines that ethnocentrism is a major cause of prejudice and discrimination throughout history. Ethnocentrism concerns the behavior of evaluating other people’s cultural practices basing on the assessor’s culture. For example, since the 15th century, racism has very apparent in the United States. Many people develop certain stereotypes for African Americans, Asian Americans and other immigrants majorly because of the differences in cultures. While some people concentrate on the color of the skin of a certain group of people, others consider the practices of people from where the target group comes from. For example, racists evaluate the conducts, practices, and behaviors of the Africans with the aim to establish the difference with their original culture. The latter develops a particular perception of the target group.

The literature also reveals that group closures or the development of boundaries for a particular population increase discrimination. It is notable that likeminded people often form groups to drive some interests. As such, the members often define some boundaries that restrict others from joining the group. With these kinds of boundaries, some people develop some negative feelings and attitude towards the group. Similarly, people may form a group with the aim to block the association with others. This way, people continue to have negative perceptions and attitudes towards each other. The developed attitudes influence some conducts and behaviors. The respective parties direct the formed behaviors towards the target group bringing forth discrimination and other forms of prejudice (Dovidio, Hewstone, Glick& Esses, 2010).

Another major source of discrimination and prejudice as depicted by Snellman (2007) is the social status. Sometimes, people develop a sense of self-satisfaction or lack thereof. When people determine their abilities to satisfy their needs, they mainly grow some attitudes towards others. While the sense of self-satisfaction may influence the need for power and authority, the feelings may lead to undermining other people’s abilities or lack of integration with certain individuals. As such, people continue to form some distances and stereotypes concerning other groups. Consequently, the people end up discriminating one another in various events and life situations. In workplaces, for example, discrimination and prejudice force the employer to turn down job application from specific communities, races or gender mainly because of the undue perceptions against the jobseekers.

According to the existing literature, people with authoritarian personalities largely have tendencies to influence discrimination and prejudice. Primarily, authoritarian personalities make people reject openly any person they feel are inferior (Whitley Jr. & Kite, 2016). Similarly, the authoritarian people submit without questions to the people they feel that they have some flourishing energies, drive or power. This kind of rejection of a particular group of persons is a form of prejudice and discrimination and that the rejected persons are likely to develop some attitudes or perceptions towards the authoritarian persons. The formed perceptions, feelings, thoughts, and attitudes lead to discrimination and prejudice.

According to a recent survey by Whitley Jr. & Kite (2016), various theories provide solutions to discrimination and prejudice. The self-esteem theory determines that increased knowledge and self-esteem decreases the development of prejudice and discrimination. Whitley Jr. & Kite (2016) argue that education increases the level of understanding among people. Additionally, socialization requires a high level of self-esteem among people. In this regard, combining education and self-esteem, people will not only understand each other but also will improve their interpersonal and intergroup relations thus avoiding any possible conflicts that may trigger unwarranted feelings attitudes and perceptions about each other. The latter would avoid discrimination and prejudice.

The cooperation hypothesis determines that conflicting groups must learn to develop strategies and a shared objective while foregoing their interests for the benefit of the group (Tileagă, 2015). According to this theory, it is apparent that members of a group are likely to enhance their relationship by establishing a common goal, foregoing their interests and committing to the group’s effectiveness.

The legal theory determines that creating and enforcing laws against unwanted behaviors can eliminate discrimination and prejudice in society. it is apparent that people have different interests and feelings towards different situations in life. However, every society needs to establish acceptable practices and the penalties for contradicting the set social standards.

Conclusion

As determined above, prejudice and discrimination are a historical, social disorder that has a greater impact on the economic and other aspects of life. The literature reveals that subconscious attitudes and perceptions influence people to develop feelings of discontentment concerning others while directing the feelings towards the target population.

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References

Dovidio, J. F., Hewstone, M., Glick, P., & Esses, V. M. (2010). Prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination: a theoretical and empirical overview. The SAGE handbook of prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination, 3-29. Retrieved from: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/b1ce/a4d91d9593ba…

Snellman, A., (2007). Social Hierarchies, Prejudice, and Discrimination. Retrieved from: https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:170901…

Tileagă, C. (2015). The nature of prejudice: Society, discrimination and moral exclusion. Routledge.

Whitley Jr, B. E., & Kite, M. E. (2016). Psychology of prejudice and discrimination. Routledge.