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Prejudice, Discrimination and Stereotyping: Analysis of Theoretical Sources

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Be it race, religion, gender, faith, sexual orientation and many other facets of life; prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping has existed in one form or another for much of/throughout history – within, amongst and against society, groups and individuals within them.

Myers (2013) described prejudice as “an intergroup phenomenon that involves a preconceived negative attitude towards a group and its individual members.”

Prejudice itself is an attitude whilst discrimination is the actual behaviour displayed as a result of this attitude. This all ties in to recent weeks studies around belonging to a group and the traits displayed as a result, negatively for example such as groupthink.

Cognitive + Affective + Behavioural components make up prejudice – Allport (1954). Faulty / Inflexible generalisations of one applied to all lead to misinformed stereotypes for example. If an elderly person is not driving very well or a little slowly, then all elderly people are bad drivers and must rescind their license at 75 years old…this is simply not right as some as with any age group of driver will be better / worse than others.

Fajardo’s (1985) principle of “Reverse Discrimination” favoring minorities within a group can be seen very much so in 21st-century organisations – referred to as “Positive Discrimination”, consciously looking to favour or provide advantage to a minority ahead of perhaps a generally more competent majority groups so as to hit quotas and targets within Diversity and Inclusion strategies.

The initial question of “is prejudice inevitable?” could be broached in one instance as a result of stereotypes, prejudice and ultimately discrimination as all being a vicious cycle.

Explicit (overt) prejudice is perhaps faster acting and harder hitting whereas Implicit (covert) is typically more subtle and less likely to be noticed at first. Opinions, feelings, beliefs, attitudes will all vary across the world, cultures and sub-cultures and groups within them. It is this array / spectrum of variation to the same thing we are ultimately on this planet to do – LIVE…that makes discrimination inevitable because quite simply we are not ALL exactly the same due to all the factors we can be prejudice AGAINST being the same that ultimately shape our attitudes and beliefs we have.

Whilst my answer at face value is a fairly simple one, there do sit explanations behind why prejudice occurs and why therefore it may be inevitable:

  • Dollard (1939) – frustration can lead to displacement of anger. For example anti-Semitic feelings displayed prior to and during WW2
  • Adorno (1950) – believed that prejudices were more intrinsically linked to experiences endured as a child, programming your biases in later life

Referring back to Allport (1954), Cognitive and Socio-Cognitive perspectives towards prejudices he felt were as a result of “thinking errors”. My only reservation with this is who’s to say which way of thinking is the right / wrong way in the first place?

A possible strategy from all of this to reduce prejudice and discrimination is Legislation – The Law. At work we have a number of Acts passed by the Government to protect employees from eachother to ensure that prejudices in the workplace do not interfere, undermine or affect to the detriment an individual(s) based on their age, sex, disability etc. status.

However, as with many crimes, upholding the law at all times to all people (consistently) is almost physically impossible and whilst actions remain open to interpretation / perception from one group or culture to another…this will continue to leave the opportunity open to discriminate and get away with it – so, the inevitability for prejudice to continue occurring.

To conclude, in the meantime Paluck & Green (2009) will study and find through lab and field research that companies can adopt such measures that can over time help reduce such negative behaviours:

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  • Workplace Diversity Training
  • Media Campaigns
  • Inter-Group Interventions and Peer Influence
  • Cooperative Learning

The aim being to reduce prejudice from becoming an accepted social norm.

Be it race, religion, gender, faith, sexual orientation and many other facets of life; prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping has existed in one form or another for much of / throughout history – within, amongst and against society, groups and individuals within them.

Myers (2013) described prejudice as “an intergroup phenomenon that involves a preconceived negative attitude towards a group and its individual members.”

Prejudice itself is an attitude whilst discrimination is the actual behaviour displayed as a result of this attitude. This all ties in to recent weeks studies around belonging to a group and the traits displayed as a result, negatively for example such as groupthink.

Cognitive + Affective + Behavioural components make up prejudice – Allport (1954). Faulty / Inflexible generalisations of one applied to all lead to misinformed stereotypes for example. If an elderly person is not driving very well or a little slowly, then all elderly people are bad drivers and must rescind their license at 75 years old…this is simply not right as some as with any age group of driver will be better / worse than others.

Fajardo’s (1985) principle of “Reverse Discrimination” favouring minorities within a group can be seen very much so in 21st century organisations – referred to as “Positive Discrimination”, consciously looking to favour or provide advantage to a minority ahead of perhaps a generally more competent majority groups so as to hit quotas and targets within Diversity and Inclusion strategies.

The initial question of “is prejudice inevitable?” could be broached in one instance as a result of stereotypes, prejudice and ultimately discrimination as all being a vicious cycle.

Explicit (overt) prejudice is perhaps faster acting and harder hitting whereas Implicit (covert) is typically more subtle and less likely to be noticed at first. Opinions, feelings, beliefs, attitudes will all vary across the world, cultures and sub-cultures and groups within them. It is this array / spectrum of variation to the same thing we are ultimately on this planet to do – LIVE…that makes discrimination inevitable because quite simply we are not ALL exactly the same due to all the factors we can be prejudice AGAINST being the same that ultimately shape our attitudes and beliefs we have.

Whilst my answer at face value is a fairly simple one, there do sit explanations behind why prejudice occurs and why therefore it may be inevitable:

  • Dollard (1939) – frustration can lead to displacement of anger. For example anti-Semitic feelings displayed prior to and during WW2
  • Adorno (1950) – believed that prejudices were more intrinsically linked to experiences endured as a child, programming your biases in later life
  • Referring back to Allport (1954), Cognitive and Socio-Cognitive perspectives towards prejudices he felt were as a result of “thinking errors”. My only reservation with this is who’s to say which way of thinking is the right / wrong way in the first place?

A possible strategy from all of this to reduce prejudice and discrimination is Legislation – The Law. At work we have a number of Acts passed by the Government to protect employees from eachother to ensure that prejudices in the workplace do not interfere, undermine or affect to the detriment an individual(s) based on their age, sex, disability etc. status.

However, as with many crimes, upholding the law at all times to all people (consistently) is almost physically impossible and whilst actions remain open to interpretation/perception from one group or culture to another…this will continue to leave the opportunity open to discriminate and get away with it – so, the inevitability for prejudice to continue occurring.

To conclude, in the meantime Paluck & Green (2009) will study and find through lab and field research that companies can adopt such measures that can over time help reduce such negative behaviours:

  • Workplace Diversity Training
  • Media Campaigns
  • Inter-Group Interventions and Peer Influence
  • Cooperative Learning

The aim being to reduce prejudice from becoming an accepted social norm.

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Prejudice, Discrimination and Stereotyping: Analysis of Theoretical Sources. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 24, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/prejudice-discrimination-and-stereotyping-analysis-of-theoretical-sources/
“Prejudice, Discrimination and Stereotyping: Analysis of Theoretical Sources.” Edubirdie, 14 Jul. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/prejudice-discrimination-and-stereotyping-analysis-of-theoretical-sources/
Prejudice, Discrimination and Stereotyping: Analysis of Theoretical Sources. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/prejudice-discrimination-and-stereotyping-analysis-of-theoretical-sources/> [Accessed 24 Sept. 2022].
Prejudice, Discrimination and Stereotyping: Analysis of Theoretical Sources [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jul 14 [cited 2022 Sept 24]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/prejudice-discrimination-and-stereotyping-analysis-of-theoretical-sources/
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