Something to Put Down

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Although the term minority is generally understood to mean fewer in number, it does not necessarily refer to groups that are numerically fewer than majority group members. What, then, is a minority?2 Minority or nondominant groups are those subordinated to majority or dominant group members in terms of power, prestige, and privilege.3 Although the term minority formally means fewer in number, not all nondominant groups are fewer in number than the dominant groups. In South Africa, for example, Whites are the dominant group, although they are outnumbered by people of color. In the United States, women outnumber men, but men are the dominant group. Nondominant, then, is a more accurate term than minority although we use both in this book.

For many of the topics we cover, there are clearly dominant and nondominant groups. In other chapters, the distinction is ambiguous. Of the racial and ethnic groups discussed in this book, Blacks, Latinos, Asian Americans, American Indians, and multiracial group members represent nondominant groups, while Whites are the dominant group. Men are the dominant sex, although women outnumber men. In the United States, Christians are members of the dominant religious group, and heterosexual is the dominant sexual orientation. People without disabilities are clearly the dominant group. Attractive people are dominant to unattractive people, and thinner people are dominant to overweight people. Whether younger or older workers are the dominant group is ambiguous. While older workers are more likely to occupy high-status, high-paid organizational positions, stereotypes and misperceptions pervade the workplace experiences of many older workers. At times younger workers are clearly preferred over older workers, but at other times younger people are viewed as irresponsible, not dependable, and having no organizational commitment. The question of whether people with or without families are dominant is illogical. Even so, for men, having a...
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