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Prejudice & Discrimination

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.

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Discrimination comes in all forms. There is age discrimination, employment r 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 hich 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 hat 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 14) 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 hree 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 nowledge 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 iscrimination 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, the civil and criminal justice system has not been applied equally to all as a result of discrimination.

Some studies indicate that African-Americans convicted of first degree murder have a significantly higher probability of receiving a death penalty than whites convicted of first degree murder, for example. When political boundaries have been rawn, a process known as “gerrymandering” has often been used to provide that minorities and other groups are not represented in proportion to their population in city councils, state legislatures, and the U. S. Congress. (Internet) Another example of discrimination is the school bully.

Just as the school bully asserts his power over a weaker pupil by pure physical intimidation, a minority group can be victimized by a more powerful majority which is insensitive to the needs and aspirations of that minority. Minority groups may be subjected to dehumanization experiences made to feel powerless by eing subjected to degrading and humiliating experiences based on prejudice. In the 1930s T. W. Adorn left Nazi Germany due to persecution because he was Jewish. He conducted a study of Anti-Jewish and other prejudices in 2000 people.

He asked his sample about such things as which political party they supported, whether they favoured more right-wing or moderate political views, how they regarded the law, immigrants (including Jews), and other aspects of social living. They also asked about their experiences during childhood. Respondents provided information about how fondly (or therwise) they remembered their childhood and their parents, whether their parents used punishment, if so what kind of punishment, and for what type of offences. (Davenport 1995) The scores on one scale were particularly interesting.

This was what became known as the F-scale. ( F stood for Fascism, an extreme, right-wing political view held by, in particular, the German Nazis, under Adolf Hitler). The people who scored highly on the F scale had been raised by parents who showed little warm affection to their children. (Davenport 1995) because of this upbringing the children grow up nable to develop an understanding of whether they are good or bad, uncertain of their self-concept. This can lead to repression which is a tool we use when we are uncertain of our feelings or what to do.

These repressed thoughts and feelings can surface in the future and cause further hostility for the holder. Thus leading to the person having an authoritarian personality a term coined by Theodor Adorno in 1950 to describe a personality type characterized by (among other things) extreme conformity, submissiveness to authority, rigidity, and arrogance towards those considered inferior. Marshall G 1998). Those people with authoritarian personalities are generally hostile to those who are of inferior status and obedient and servile to those of higher status.

The former meaning those with the authoritarian personality would be hostile to those who weaker than themselves, which in turn is called Displacement and it explains the affective pert of prejudice. (Woods B pg116). Tajfel showed that not only do we categorise people but we favour the in-group. In a series of experiments, Tajfel and his colleagues assigned participants to groups by the toss of a coin, so it was clear that heir membership of a particular group was only due to the toss of a coin.

Results showed that when asked to allocate points, participants largely favoured members of their own group- they discriminated against the out- group (Woods B pg 118) Social Identity Theory explains the affective part of prejudice, although critics argue that the evidence is based largely on experimental work, and that in real life we enhance our own group, but we are much less likely to denigrate others (Woods B pg119). Another well-known stuy was one which looked into intergroup behaviour which was devised by Muzafer Sherif and his associates.

The research method was a field experiment using a matched pairs design. This longitudinal study took place over three weeks using observational technique. The sample was 22 middle-class white boys, aged 12 years, who was attending a summer camp called “Robbers Cave”. They were not known to each other and all were psychologically well-adjusted from stable homes. The participants were matched in pairs as closely as possible for physical and psychological characteristics (Woods B pg127). The procedure comprised four stages during which camp counsellors (who were in fact trained researchers) observed the oys` behaviour.

For a few days normal summer camp activities took place. The second stage started when a series of intergroup contests was announced by the counsellors. The group winning the series would get a silver cup, and each boy would get a penknife. The third stage began after the contests ended, when the two groups had contact with each other, for example they all went to see a film. In the forth stage all the boys had to go cooperate on tasks such as pulling a truck back to camp in order to get there in time for lunch. (Woods B pg127).

I don’t think this was unethical as Sherif proved a very good point. He oncluded that group norms were quickly developed when new groups are created quickly followed by conflict with each group deriding each other which then reinforced their own belief in themselves. But thankfully he also proved that this could be counter-acted by encouraging both groups to cooperate with each other in a task that needed all members to pull together in order to achieve their common aim, which in this case was to get back for lunch.

So maybe competition is also a contributing factor for increasing prejudices and discriminations. In 1986 researchers Heckel, Allen and Blackmon investigated the touching behaviour of winning and osing teams in 100 flag football matches. Both teams were observed immediately following the conclusion of the game by two observers. In all of the categories of touching observed (handshakes and pats on the head, shoulder, stomach, buttocks and back), winners inherited more touches of losers than losers did of winners.

The researchers also noted, but did not properly investigate, that losers tended to congregate in small groups, not touching each other, whereas winners tended to touch other team members. (Lisney, M pg129) Another experiment was the famous account of Jane Elliot and her students his was an attempt to help her pupils understand the effects of stereotyping, prejudices and discrimination. She collected all the pupils that had both blue eyes and brown eyes. The pupils with green eyes were sent away. She informed the children that all the children with brown eyes was superior to the ones with blue eyes, therefore would do better academically.

She noticed that throughout the day the attitude of the brown eyed group had altered for the worst to the blue eyed children and that the work and feelings of the blue eyed group had deteriorated. Whilst the brown eyed children grew in confidence. The next day she told the children she had made a mistake and it was the children with blue eyes that were superior and that the brown eyed children would do less well. She noticed a complete turn-around with the children and the blue eyed ones immediately extracted revenge for their humiliations they had to endure the day before.

The next day she told her students what she had been doing and explained to them she was teaching them how it felt to be discriminated against. I think this experiment was ethical. It was a good lesson to be taught as it shows us that discrimination comes from superior groups and is sed against the inferior groups. In my opinion this worked very well. Helping people to empathise like this can be an effective strategy for the reduction of prejudice and discrimination in both children and adults. (Woods B pg 130). Another famous research was “The Jigsaw method” which was introduced by Elliot Aronson.

His primary research interests are in the general area of social influence. His experiments have been aimed both at testing theory and at improving the human condition by influencing people to change their dysfunctional attitudes and behaviour (e. g. , prejudice and bullying). He ut people in groups of six and gave them all a set of instructions each one different from the next. The object was for them to work out the puzzle but to do this effectively they had to work together, more importantly they had to communicate with each other.

Each student is essential for the completion of the puzzle, therefore encouraging cooperation and friendliness. It seems obvious to me that once people learn to cooperate with each other the high levels of prejudices and discrimination some of us face daily, could be reduced, but this appears to be the case only if the reward is the same for all. Therefore once again I believe the above experiment by Aronson was ethical and very encouraging. Conclusion It will be very difficult to totally eradicate prejudice and discrimination from our world but I don’t think it will be impossible.

If every time, when we hear someone speaking in a derogatory fashion about someone else, we would speak out and tell them they are in the wrong and should alter their point of view im sure they will eventually change their attitude. More so if we were to mention the Race Relations Act of 1976 as this applies to race, colour, nationality, national and ethnic origin and makes unlawful: Racial discrimination and certain victimisation in Employment, education and in the provision of goods, Facilities and services . Discriminatory practices and adverts .

Instructions and pressure to discriminate (internet gov. uk) Last weekend I heard my 13 year old son complaining about the Lady driver to his dad, especially when he referred to her as “women drivers! ” I was shocked to know he could stereotype this woman based on what he has obviously overheard other men say (most probably including his father) I hope in the future if he overhears the same type of thing he will turn round and speak out saying “no that’s wrong”. When a person comes out of prison the majority are faced with prejudice and discrimination.

They find it difficult to obtain work and a place to stay. Because of this many find themselves back in prison. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 was introduced to help people who have been convicted of a criminal offence and who have since lived on the right side of the law. In general, a person convicted of a criminal offence and who receives a sentence of no more that 2 years in prison, Benefits from the Act if they are not convicted again during a Specific period. This period is called the rehabilitation period.

But this is not always the case as so many people face difficulties when trying to obtain employment, they have to cope with the fact that they find it hard to get a job without a fixed abode and it is difficult to find suitable accommodation because of their criminal past, thus forcing them into a catch 22 situation, which has resulted in the past in them returning to crime in order to survive, which ultimately lands them back in prison. We would have to re-educate not only our young but also the old as all ages ave the ability to discriminate against others.

The best way must be via the media. The media have the opportunity to propagate the true facts at the same time diminishing the current beliefs of the bigoted people and break the dogmatic attitude so many of us possess. Many groups these days have had to fight to get their voice across for example the … Gay Liberation movements who have had to work hard to increase the assertiveness and self-confidence of their members. (Woods B pg128). The music world has a large influence and our youth and could be very influential in altering perceptions for the future.

For example the R&B group Black Eyed Peas of last year produced a number one hit called “Where is the love” which includes the lyrics “If you only have love for your own race, then you only leave space to discriminate, and to discriminate only generates hate, and when you hate then your bound to get irate”… This had a big influence on the fans of R&B so if the other major groups in the different types of music followed suit, the power of the word would be generated to a wider group, probably one of the most important as it is full of people who imitate the important models that influence children.

Jane Elliot’s experiment was excellent as creating empathy. The more we experience the effects of prejudice and discrimination the more we just might change. We need to encourage the people around us at all times to display qualities such as respect, understanding and above all to be non- judgemental as much as possible when meeting new people. Prejudices and Discrimination will only remain in our lives if we continue to allow it. I myself am a parent of four children. I see it as my duty to instil in their minds all these qualities, in the hope that I can help produce a better future generation of caring, understanding and respectful adults.

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