Causes of Prejudice: the Sociology of Prejudice

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“Causes of Prejudice” by Vincent N. Parrillo examines the psychological causes of prejudice as well as the sociological causes of prejudice. However, the sociological view will be the primary focus of this essay. Parrillo discusses the sociologist Talcott Parsons. Parsons suggested that “both the family and the occupational structure may produce anxieties and insecurities that create frustration.” The family and occupational structures may cause a person to redirect whatever anger they have towards others. There are three sociological theories for the causes of prejudice in the selection. The theories are: socialization, economic competition, and social norms. Parrillo states that in the socialization process, people learn the “values, attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions of their culture or subculture.” Children, being easily swayed because they’re taught to obey their parents, often take on the beliefs and ideas of their parents without inquiring about these principles. The beliefs of a child’s parents also become the child’s beliefs. Many viewpoints that people learn from their parents and from others in society may be stereotypes. However, many people don’t recognize this, since people are so accustomed to hearing these stereotypes. One example that Parrillo gives is of the Jim Crow laws of the 1890’s and the early 20th century. The people who grew up with Jim Crow laws accepted them as normal, though they weren’t. An additional sociological view of prejudice discussed in the selection is that of economic competition. This outlook is based on the belief that when people feel as though their security is being threatened, people are more aggressive and unfriendly. Parrillo states that whenever there is a decline in job availability, negative stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination increase. Parrillo says, “Donald Young pointed out that, throughout U.S. history, in times of high unemployment, and thus intense job competition, nativist...
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