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The concept of Prejudice

By glengem Jun 09, 2004 803 Words
Prejudice can be defined in one of several ways. There is an intellectual as well as a behavioral aspect to the concept of prejudice. Prejudice encompasses negative thoughts and feelings that a person has toward another person. Thoughts and feelings linked to prejudice are generally not based upon the experience the individual, but rather the prevailing thoughts and attitudes of the society within which the individual has been socialized. These thoughts and feelings may also have an impact on the physical space and social interaction patterns preferred by that person. When defining and conceptualizing prejudice it is important to acknowledge the fact that prejudicial thoughts and reactions are the result of "hasty and faulty decision-making" (McGregor, 1993).

OPERATIONALIZATION:

Measurement of prejudice can be obtained by observing behavior in the following dimensions: exclusion and invisibility, stereotyping, imbalance and selectivity, unreality, and fragmentation and isolation (T&D, 2001). Exclusion of particular groups of people can be evidenced by employment rates for particular groups in society in the more prestigious and well-paying professions, as well as through membership rates in social and academic organizations. Analysis can also be carried out by surveying textbooks and accounts of history to determine if there is a lack of contributions included from certain groups of people.

Analysis of a sample of newspapers, magazines, and television shows and commercial ads, could be examined to note any unequal representation based upon race and/or ethnicity. Along similar lines these same samples could be examined to detect inaccurate or stereotypical images portrayed about groups of individuals based upon their race and/or ethnicity. This would also be evidence of physical and psychological fragmentation and isolation.

The final dimensions of stereotyping and unreality could be observed through survey data. A telephone survey method could be conducted by selecting a random sampling of people from a designated survey area (such as a particular county or state).

JUSTIFICATION:

This is the best way to measure prejudice because it targets identification of prejudice according to both concrete behavioral and intellectual aspects of prejudice. The dimensions of exclusion and invisibility, fragmentation, as well as imbalance and selectivity are directly observable behavioral measures. Stereotypes and unrealistic expectations and mental images are more intellectual aspects of measuring prejudice.

PROBLEMS:

Gathering accurate survey data is always a difficult process. The use of the telephone survey is convenient for the researcher but may exclude some people who suffer the most from prejudicial attitudes and actions. Also, people may not be completely honest in answering the questions since it is a sensitive subject. However, the measures of representation in media as well as social and professional organizations. It does not fully explore the attitudes of specific individuals, so both methods are relevant and necessary in order to get at an accurate accounting and analysis of the prevalence of attitudes and behaviors associated with prejudice in our society.

POVERTY

CONCEPTUALIZATION OF POVERTY:

Poverty is a concept that entails very concrete and measurable elements as well as more theoretical components. For the purposes of this paper, poverty can be defined as suffering from the lack of financial resources needed to sustain human life, employment, and materials deemed necessary by the prevalent culture of the society in which that individual lives (Frankel, 1995).

OPERATIONALIZATION:

Poverty has several dimensions surrounding the most basic element of income level: amount and cost of food needed to sustain life, transportation costs, clothing, rent, and the amount of money needed to pay for needed child care (when applicable). This amount has been defined as $13, 700-15, 900 for a family of four (Frankel, 1995). Census data could be used to determine the number of families living at or below this particular measure for poverty. In addition, a survey could be conducted of a random sample of people in a neighborhood with a high concentration of poverty to gain further insight into how much money the residents themselves feel is necessary to provide for their basic food, transportation, clothing, rent, and child care needs. The results could then be compared to the Census data and matched against Frankel's definition.

JUSTIFICATION:

Official measures may not accurately measure what they are supposed to be measuring. Although they are useful for gaining a concrete and stable numerical measure, official measures leave out the aspect of real life experience of living in poverty that the information from the survey data can help to supplement for expanding our understanding of the concept of poverty.

PROBLEMS:

The survey data may be inaccurate due to the effects of human error. People may intentionally or unintentionally report inaccurate figures. People may feel insecure about giving financial information detailing how much they actually spend on the items in the survey to a researcher over the phone.

References

Frankle, David H. 1995. "Measuring Poverty in USA." Lancet. Retrieved from http://web16.epnet.com 2/9/04.

2001. "Forms of Bias." T&D. December 2001. Retrieved from http://web16.epnet.com 2/9/04.

McGregor, Alan. 1993. "The Double Nature of Prejudice." Mankind Quarterly. Retrieved from http://web16.epnet.com 2/9/04.

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