Prejudice and Discrimination

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Prejudice, discrimination, stereotype and racism are terms used in everyday conversation. We hear and read about these daily on the news and in the media. How do we define them? Where do they come from and what do they mean? “Many people believe prejudice and discrimination as meaning the same thing, In fact, prejudice is an attitude or belief, whereas discrimination refers to behaviour or action.”Smith and Mackie (2000, p 156) According to Baron and Byrne (1991, p183) prejudice: “Is an attitude (usually negative) toward the members of some group based solely on their membership in that group” Prejudice has three components this model is known as the ABC model of attitudes. Affective components are primarily the feelings we hold about a person or group of people that we have little knowledge off. It can lead society to believe that every member of that group is the same. A typical example of this would be assuming everyone from the Far East carrying a back pack is a terrorist simply because of what happened in New York. The second component is behavioural this relates to how we behave in the presence of such groups. Finally the Cognitive component is made up of beliefs we hold about that person or group. However it is only when we act on the behaviour aspect of these components that we may actually discriminate against a person or group. “Discrimination is the behaviour or actions, usually negative, towards an individual or group of people, especially on the basis of sex, race, social class etc...” (McLeod, S. A. (2008).Prejudice and Discrimination [internet]

A typical example of this that most of us are familiar with is the atrocities of World War ll. The Nazi’s committed mass murder of Jews and any Jewish citizen was made to identify themselves by the outward sign of wearing a yellow star to indicate visually they were a Jew. Again in South Africa this was very evident in Apartheid. From 1948 – 1994 anyone that was not white was prevented from voting and literally separated from white or mixed communities and clearly discriminated against living in often poor squalor like conditions with little or no access to education or health facilities. Gender discrimination is more evident in Western societies; a typical example of this would be that mothers generally will get custody of the children after a divorce. Closer to our own door step in Northern Ireland we have dealt with the conflict of Catholics killing Protestants and Protestants killing Catholics. (McLeod, S. A. (2008).Prejudice and Discrimination [internet]

Allport (1954) has suggested Discrimination has five stages: Anti Location more commonly known as ‘hate speech’ and usually involves verbal attacks that are directed towards a specific group or person. Avoidance tactics are deliberately used to isolate a person or group. An example of this would be people directly avoiding someone from a different culture solely based of the fact they know nothing about their background. Discrimination is where a person or group deliberately denies opportunities to another person or group in achieving their goals or in education or getting a job. A typical example of this is where in Northern Ireland the actively discriminated in the past by only employing Catholic or Protestant people for specific jobs or areas. However there is also positive discrimination where they now actively advertise for a certain gender or religion if they need to balance the workplace ratio. Physical Attack where a group or person is physically attacked and damage is caused to their property. Finally extermination, this is the ultimate act of discrimination where deliberate attempts are made to kill off all members of a specific group. The greatest example of this is where the Nazi’s gassed the Jews in a bid to eradicate them.

It has been suggested that negative stereotypes can be dangerous and regarded as unacceptable, however not all lead to...
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