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SOC 2280 (49)

Prejudice and Discrimination

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SOC 2280
Linda Hunter

Prejudice and Discrimination • Prejudice – a negative attitude, or prejudgment, applied to an entire category of people, such as the poor, women, and racial minorities. • Discrimination – an act of unfair or unequal treatment directed against an individual or a group. 1) Individual Discrimination – negative treatment of one person by another on the basis of perceived characteristics. 2) Institutional/Systemic Discrimination – negative treatment of a minority group that is built into society’s institutions. Theories of Prejudice 1) Scapegoating Theory argues that people who face prejudice are society’s victims. This theory suggests that people transfer the responsibility for a failure to some vulnerable group. For example, Adolph Hitler used the Jews as the scapegoat for all German social and economic ills in the 1930s. Similarly, immigrants in the United States are often blamed by “real Americans” for their failures to get jobs or secure desirable housing. – Scapegoating theory fails to explain why a certain group is selected or why frustration is not taken out on the real culprit when possible. 2) Authoritarian Personality Theory argues that some people have a personality type that is likely to manifest prejudice. - Theodore Adorno and his research team claimed to have isolated the basic characteristics of the authoritarian personality, which developed from an early childhood of harsh discipline: 1) adherence to conventional values 2) uncritical acceptance to authority 3) concern with power and toughness - A child with an authoritarian upbringing obeyed and then later treated others as he or she had been raised. - Adorno’s study has been widely criticized on numerous grounds, including the equation of authoritarianism with right-wing politics, its failure to see that prejudice is more closely connected to other characteristics (e.g., social class), and the concentration on factors behind extreme racial prejudice rather than more common expressions of hostility. 3) Exploitation Theory is a part of the Marxist tradition; it views
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