SOSC1210 Human Rights in a Socio-Legal Context:KEY CONCEPTS IN THE CREATION OF MINORITIES
Sept 26th, 2012
INTRO: THE SOCIAL CREATION OF MINORITY STATUS
An idea can't have real effects.
Social construction of reality. ** perceptions. What is a minority?
Actions based on social surroundings.
These constructions develop definitions.
We always make assumptions based on previous knowledge, or partial knowledge.
The problem is that we tend to act based on assumptions and no proof/evidence.
"What is true?"
What makes something "true"?
Humans use these ideas to create minorities.
Minority groups do not naturally become inferior, only when we choose to believe a
specific group is inferior, it is based on the cultural or other attributes they have.
When we act on these ideas, we can violate human rights.
We have to understand the existence of minorities.
Power: Where it can be exercised. Political, Economical, and Social.
It's not about the fact that power is given to people, it's more about how it is exercised,
and how inequality occurs.
1. DEFINITIONS OF MINORITY AND MAJORITY/DOMINANT GROUP
"A group where human rights are denied."
It is possible for the minority to outnumber the majority, it is not necessarily based on a
numerical value, but based on power. *
To figure minority, you must be able to see the majority.
We deal with minorities at the societal level, which groups have more power over the
Ex. USA - Pres. Obama, Africian-American, he is part of the minority in the USA. Does
that mean all racism towards this group is gone? No.
Minority - denial of rights.
Being a minority does not mean you can't discriminate yourself. You can still violate
another individual's rights.
Majority - The social category with the most power in society, refer to own
characteristics as being positive and the norm. People who differ from these
"good/normal" characteristics are labelled as the minority.
2. LABELLING AND STEREOTYPES
A label justifies human rights violation.
ex. Aboriginals, they are not entitled to human rights, they can be denied dignity,
political power, etc. They occupy a lower status in society, not their attributes, but assumptions made by the
These assumptions are not scientifically based.
Based on normative attributes of the majority group and cultural standards.
Stereotypes are ignored in a given population.
The number of similarities between populations are ignored.
Ex. What defines a minority/majority?
You might land on a majority group for one category, but a minority in another category.
You can lose a minority status, in different ways.
3. INVALIDATION MYTHS AND IDEOLOGIES
At the roots of groups, we have a complex set of myths and ideas towards a given
Some of these ideas may come from religious beliefs.
These myths can develop into theories or ideas, and these ideas can change a way how
a group is treated.
These myths and ideas come from pseudo-scientific (sort of scientific). Science based on
socially constructed ideas or assumptions/negative connotations. Social Darwin-ism.
People are ranked based on "so-called race", because race is a social construction.
These myths and ideas are very important, it is the base to build human rights and it is
a platform for discrimination.
4. DISCRIMINATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS: FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION:
Discrimination is the differential and unequal treatment that serves to advantage or
disadvantage a person, becaus