PREJUDICE AND DISCRIMINATION
People should treat others as they would want to be treated. This is the belief of humanists (British Association of Humanists, 2007). British Association of Humanists (2007) argues that human beings share the same origin. This means that people are all distantly related and have a lot in common. The British Association of Humanists (2007) concludes that people should not stereotype or discriminate others. Humanists hold that happiness and fulfilment of life should be promoted by all. This paper differs with this argument. The argument against the belief of the humanists will be sustained based on the following statement: Prejudice and discrimination can not be reduced.
Keywords: Prejudice, Discrimination, Stereotypes, and people
British Association of Humanists (2007) describes prejudice as unreasonable judgement of other people. It can also be described as the negative attitude towards a person or a group. Prejudice affects the behaviour of a person which might cause discrimination. The major conflicts in our society are results of prejudice and stereotypes which exist in our society (Hogg & Abrams, 2001).
Although it has adverse effect to human life prejudice is inevitable. This is realistically what humanists should understand. Social and functional variations in human life are the major sustaining factors of prejudice and discrimination. Theories based on these variations have been formulated to explain the existence of prejudice and discrimination. This paper tries to link these theories with the statement: ‘prejudice and discrimination can not be reduced’ in order to disapprove the belief of the humanists.
PREJUDICE AND DISCRIMINATION CAN NOT BE REDUCED
The first theory for existence of discrimination and prejudice is known as authoritarian personality theory. This theory echoes the difference in background in which people have been brought up. The theory singles out a particular category of people. Individuals in this profile are said to have grown in strict backgrounds. In such conditions parents are emotionally distant from their children. There are rigid rules which should be adhered to and discipline is instilled through punishment; either verbal or physical. The parents do not encourage independent thoughts and decisions in such conditions. Hogg & Abrams (2001) view this theory in a different perspective. They argue that it may be not the conditions in which one is brought up only but it also applies to those individuals who have history of frustration and violent attacks.
Such people in adult stage propagate prejudice in their world. They define social life in terms of hierarchies. They discriminate and persecute those whom they perceive of lower social status. Research has shown that such people have strong rules of authority. They believe that those who are of lower status should not interact with them. This creates stereotypes. These people may become hostile and hence cause intergroup conflicts (Hogg & Abrams, 2001).
This theory is a fact in the recent world. How do we expect prejudice to reduce when people with historical background are still in our society? More people are being released into the society with similar background. In schools children are brought up in fear through punishment. Cases of child abuse have increased. The political wars across the world have increased. All these factors contribute to frustrated background of our children. These people at their adult will create stereotypes in the society as the theory states. Therefore with this trend prejudice and discrimination is expected t o grow.
The second theory is called the cognitive theory. Devine (1989) notes that prejudice is not inborn; it is learnt. This is the basis of the cognitive theory. Usually people prejudice groups or people whom they have never had contact (Devine et al, 2002). They form opinions about the other groups of people by listening to people in their groups, especially parents. Cultural influences within the society in which people grow up act as perpetuators of stereotypes. Information on movies and media about a particular group of persons is another cause of prejudice. The cognitive theory argues that stereotypes exist in our society due to influence.
The world today is a complex network of information flow. People start to receive information about others at a very early age. With the increase in information technology opinions about a certain ethnic group or a country can spread all over within a minute. In effect people grow up with formed opinions about particular groups of people. They form social hierarchies without actually interacting with such groups. The result is prejudice and discrimination of those perceived of low status. With this challenge prejudice and discrimination can not reduced. The technology of information is growing very fast. Future generations are expected to receive information from all over the world faster than we currently do. Prejudice will therefore grow in the future generations.
Human beings like to be associated with a social group (British Association of Humanist, 2007). The other theory to explain the existence of prejudice and discrimination is based on this fact. In their research Hogg and Abrams (2001) described a group as a unit in which there are set norms or values to regulate the conduct of the members. Hogg and Abrams (2001) further argued that these members have role relationships and interdependent status. The British Association of Humanist (2007) notes that people in these groups have to feel protected from intrusion. In order to protect the identity of their groups they construct barriers to keep off outsiders. Tribal and religious groups are the main victim of this behaviour (British Association of Humanists, 2007).
Social groups are essential in human life. However in protecting their identity these groups end up discriminating others (Kohatsu et al, 2011). Religious groups discriminate against those who have practices contrary to their belief such as homosexuals. They stereotype them as wrongdoers and not worthy of this life. Tribal groups discriminate against those who are not members of their tribes. In some nations people are discriminated against their body colour; either white or black (Kahatsu et al, 2011). Others are discriminated on their level of status in the society. While others are discriminated as per position they hold in places of work.
All these social groups propagate prejudice and unfair discrimination in our society (Devine et al, 2002). Is prejudice expected to reduce with these groups in the society? The answer is No. Social groups are inevitable in human living. Some of these groups are in fact natural and can not be avoided. The implication is that social groups will continue to spread prejudice and discrimination in our generation and those to come.
According to the theories in the preceding discussion the major propagators of prejudice and discrimination are inevitable factors in the human life (Devine et al, 2002) and therefore Prejudice and discrimination can not be reduced.
British Association of Humanists. (2007). A Humanist Discussion of Prejudice and Discrimination. Retrieved on January 25, 2011 from http://www.humanismforschools.org.uk/pdfs/Discrimination%20and%20 Prejudice%20%28final%29.pdf
Devine, P. G. (1989). Stereotypes and Prejudice: Their Automatic and Controlled Components. Journal of Personal and Social Psychology, 56 (1), 5-16.
Devine, P. G., Plant, E. A., Amodio, D. M., Jones, E. H & Vance, S. L. (2002). Regulation of Explicit and Implicit Race Bias: The role of Motivations to Respond without Prejudice. Journal of Personal and Social Psychology, 82 (5), 835-848.
Hogg, M. A & Abrams, D. (2001). Intergroup Relations: Essential Readings; Philadelphia, Pa.; Hove: Psychology Press, 64-70.
Kohatsu, E. L., Victoria, R., Lau, A., Flores, M. & Salazar, A. (2011). Analyzing Anti- Asian Prejudice from a Racial Identity and Color-Blind Perspective. Journal of Counseling and Development, 89 (1), 63-70.