What Causes Social Intolerance?

Topics: Sociology, Racism, Discrimination Pages: 10 (3462 words) Published: June 1, 2011
What Causes Social Intolerance?

‘Across multiple disciplines in the social sciences, the study of social inequality represents a prominent area of research.’ Social tolerance has commonly factored as a point of political study. This can be seen as a result of an increasingly pluralistic society, which encompasses vast elements of race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality and general diversity. Due to this greater emphasis has been cast upon the concept toleration. To a degree this can be perceived as a result of globalization, which has seen a vast influx of people from low income to high-income countries. Social intolerance can also be viewed within a historical context, for example a prominent area of study is the Nazi Germany treatment of the Jewish race, as well as modern day relations. Throughout my study, I am going to break down with the help of political research, what the main causes of social intolerance are, as the issue of social tolerance continues to be prominent within today’s societies across the globe. There are varying arguments regarding what is the root cause of such intolerance, however, we must recognize that the effects of social intolerance is one which is hard to quantify. This is because ‘how one responds to a survey question concerning attitudes toward a group will not accurately reflect how the respondent will react when encountering an individual from that group.’ Therefore it is questionable to what degree we can rely on surveys, as often people responses do not always reflect true attitudes, as people can be dishonest, or answer in ways they believe to be more appealing than their true feelings.

Social tolerance is a somewhat broad concept. As argued by Professor Popper, ‘Toleration is a necessary consequence of our being human we are all products of frailty: fallible and prone to error. So let us mutually pardon each other’s follies.’ Thus meaning that we are all subject to such a disposition. Susan Mendes defines tolerance as an appeal to the propriety of allowing each individual to pursue his own life in whichever way he thinks best for him. This justification often refers to the requirement that we show respect for persons as autonomous agents. Such descriptions of tolerance infer that open-mindedness is a crucial condition for peace and stability and a balanced co-existence. It places emphasis upon the individual’s role within society and their responsibility to act in accordance. There is also a moral element in relation to such attitudes ‘a principled recognition that the “others” have rights even if the exercise those rights in unattractive ways.’

Within my study, I will be drawing upon research data from previous experiments, and will be using data from the European Social Survey, as the areas I have been predominantly looking at are within Europe and on a personal level, this information is relative to where I live. I believe that ultimately one of the main elements of social intolerance are based amidst certain elements of the demographic. I believe characteristics such as age, religion, education and region shape our prejudices. Our society is ever evolving and broadening, and diversity has become a way of life to many. However, I believe that the older more sheltered and less educated population are more likely to be less tolerant and likely to support false and negative stereotypes, this is because they are less likely to engage with individuals from said groups, therefore they are more likely to support negative stereotypes, and integration helps eliminate such prejudice. ‘Research suggests that those with education, who live in urban areas, or are religious liberals tend to hold more positive attitudes’

I believe that these views will be reflected in on the European Social Survey regarding ‘Qualifying for Immigration’. I am going to focus on the variables demonstrating the influences of economic considerations as well as nationality, as these reflect further...
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