SOC 2280 Lecture Notes - Dreadlocks, Relative Deprivation, Poverty Threshold

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28 Jan 2013
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Bogardus Social Distance Scale
• Robert Park and Ernest Burgess first defined social distance as the tendency to approach or withdraw
from a racial group. Emory Bogardus conceptualized a scale that could measure social distance
empirically. This Bogardus scale asks people how willing they would be to interact with various racial
and ethnic groups in specified social situations. People are asked whether they would be willing to admit
each group
- To close kinship by marriage (1.00)
- To my club as personal chums (2.00)
- To my street as neighbors (3.00)
- To employment in my occupation (4.00)
- To citizenship in my country (5.00)
- As only visitors to my country (6.00)
- Would exclude from my country (7.00)
The Content of Prejudice: Stereotypes
Stereotypes are unreliable generalizations about all members of a group that do not take individual
differences into account. Evidence for traits may arise out of real conditions. For example, more Puerto
Ricans live in poverty than Whites, and so the prejudiced mind associates Puerto Ricans with laziness.
Similarly, some activists in the women’s movement are lesbians, and so all feminists are seen as
lesbians.
• Numerous scientific studies have been made of these exaggerated images. This research has shown
the willingness of people to assign positive and negative traits to entire groups of people, which are then
applied to particular individuals. Stereotyping causes people to view Blacks as superstitious, Whites as
uncaring, and Jews as shrewd. Lakota Sioux member Tim Giago speaks strongly against the widely
accepted, commercially successful use of stereotypes in the continued use of Native Americans as
mascots for athletic teams.
• In the last 30 years, we have become more aware of the power of the mass media to introduce
stereotypes into everyday life. For example, almost all television roles showing leadership feature
Whites. Even urban-based programs such as Seinfeld and Friends prospered without any major Black,
Hispanic, or Asian American characters.
• A 1998 national survey of boys and girls aged 10 to 17 asked “How often do you see your race on
television?” The results showed that 71 percent of White children said “very often,” compared with only
42 percent of African Americans, 22 percent of Latinos, and 16 percent of Asian Americans. Generally,
the children viewed the White characters as affluent and well educated, whereas they saw the minority
characters as “breaking the law or rules,” “being lazy,” and “acting goofy.
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