Stereotypes, Generalizations and Prejudice - Research Paper Example

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Name: Title: Course: Tutor: Date: Stereotypes, Generalizations and Prejudice Introduction Stereotyping and prejudice has been in existence for centuries and persists even in the modern day world. Experts in sociology argue that discussion on cultures would always be sure to use mental representations, categories and generalizations when describing groups (Ferrante and Caldeira 286)…
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Download file to see previous pages It has its roots in ethnocentrism which would be upheld by stereotypes. Stereotypes refer to the overgeneralizations of the behavior, appearance or other traits of members of a particular group. Just as prejudice, stereotypes could also be positive or negative. Various theories have been proposed to explain prejudice and stereotyping in the society. According to the frustration-aggression hypothesis, frustration among people who seek to achieve a specific goal would cause such persons to respond with aggression towards others. The victim of this aggression becomes the scapegoat according to Kendall (284), which refers to that person or group that lacks the capability to resist hostility or aggression from others. For example, some members of the society could be blamed for societal problems such as economic recession, in spite of such persons not having control over such occurrences. Secondly, the social learning proposition suggests that prejudice could be acquired through observation and imitation of significant others like peers and parents. Highly prejudices persons have been associated with authoritarian personality which encompasses intolerance, excessive conformity and rigid stereotype thinking. Ferrante and Caldeira (288) argue that such personality results from a family environment where dominating parents are anxious of status and would use physical discipline on their children. This personality could also be linked to conservative political and religious beliefs. Prejudice causes undesirable behavior among members of a society. The behavior supporting prejudice could be termed as discrimination which refers to either unintentional or intentional unequal treatment of groups without consideration for their ability, merit or past performance. It makes goods, services and valued experiences inaccessible. Discrimination could take place at an institutional level where there are unchallenged customary norms in a society that would be established by the dominant group which seeks to place the minority at disadvantaged positions. Kendall (284) however argues that not all prejudice would necessarily result into discriminatory behavior. The author introduces unprejudiced non-discriminators as persons who cannot be personally prejudiced and would not discriminate against other people. For example, football teammates could be from different races but turn out to be best friends. Unprejudiced discriminators could lack personal prejudice but exhibit discriminatory traits due to peer pressure or socio-political or economic interest. Stereotypes and prejudice have been largely considered as promoters of racism. Kendall (283) defines racism as a set of practices, beliefs and attitudes used in justifying superior treatment of an ethnic group and inferior treatment of another. Racism could be traced back to the days of early civilization. Over time, various citizens in the US including African Americans, Jewish Americans, Italian Americans and Irish Americans have been racial ideology objects. Overt racism would be exhibited publicly by making public statements on the inferiority of a particular ethnic group. This could include writing racist graffiti or calling people of color derogatory names during sports. These are blatant, but subtle forms of racism would be hidden from ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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