Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Research Paper on Prejudice

Research Paper on Prejudice and Discrimination

Prejudice: Disliking Others
1. Introduction
Prejudice is generally referred to as prejudgment, which occurs when the person is making particular decision before knowing the whole picture and all relevant facts regarding some event. Prejudices can be race, gender, class, religion, etc. The notion refers to the situation when one person judges or expresses opinion about the other on the basis of some external characteristics without even knowing him or her. The subject of prejudicial behavior can also be age (claiming that young people are concerned with their appearance), religion (all Jews are provident), sexual orientation (gay prefer to work in show business) and race (all Mexican people are very passionate). In some cases in the positive context it can be mixed up with hasty generalization.

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Prejudices can be subtle and overt. Prejudices can have also social sources, which are tightly connected with social inequalities, class difference and differences in welfare levels. Motivation for being prejudicial can be aggression and frustration, the feeling that one person is superior to the other due to particular factors. There are also cognitive sources of prejudice that include categorization, distinctiveness and attribution. The consequences of prejudice include stereotyping and inadequate people perception.

In order to reduce prejudice people should learn about each other differences and understand that all people have their own backgrounds and cannot be judged just in accordance with their race, gender or sexual orientation.

2. Nature and Power of Prejudice
Prejudice is said to be prejudgment, when one person makes particular assumption about the other knowing him or her not enough period of time, or having not sufficient information to make those assumptions. Prejudice can be racial, gender, religious, age, sexual orientation, class, etc. The notion “prejudice” occurs in many contexts and generally assumes negative or hostile attitudes of one person to the other on the ground of his sex or something else without even communicating with person and knowing him (Aronson et al, 2005).

Prejudice can be overt and subtle. Overt discrimination, racist remarks, for instance, is said to be the clear prejudice form, but it is less dangerous then subtle prejudice. In the case with subtle prejudice the person towards whom the prejudice is directed doesn’t know why he or she is not promoted at work or invited to the dinner with colleagues. Subtle discrimination generally occurs with people that are close to the person and with whom the person interacts on the everyday basis. Not knowing or understanding the real reasons for rejection considers that they are connected with race or age (Fishbein, 2002).

Racial prejudice is said to be social and moral trouble that affects people around the world. Its reasons include intolerance, fear, segregation, separation, hatred and discrimination. Even though all mentioned reasons can vary from case to case, ignorance is common to all of them. It was so historically stipulated that people’s race is determined as population that has distinguishable biological features. Even though we are all Homo sapiens, we are difference from one another by race by such characteristics as hair texture and color, eye shape and color, size, body, facial organs and expressions. Of course all people are different in the deeper sense, but they do not constitute race. Racial prejudice is connected with building stereotypical lines by claiming, for example, that all people of such race are …. The blank space can be filled in accordance whether people of this race are sportive, dishonest or mean. It is people’s environment, including media channel, friends, and society form these ideas in people’s minds.

Gender prejudice is based on the assumption that one gender is better then the other whether it is for particular occupation, job or task. It was so historically stipulated that women are weaker sex, but making an assumption that all women are weaker then men is not true. It is gender prejudice to divide professional spheres into those for men and women, to state that is it women’s job to cook and clean, as well as claim that men earn more.

3. Social Sources of Prejudice.
Inequalities can be of quite different origin. They can be economic, social and institutionalized.     Economic inequality can be expressed by means of the wealth unequal distribution in society. This has obvious consequences in terms of the unequal distribution of what that wealth may purchase, including real estate, education, cars, health care, career prospects, status – in the  society we are living in, access to all these things is basically dependent on how much money does the person possess.           
Social inequality occurs when one person cannot afford himself particular apartments, cars, education, employment opportunities, health care, and status. Social inequality also occurs when some people are excluded from definite society for not having definite things that are valuable and desirable in this particular society. Economic and social inequalities are very much interconnected due to the fact that the society we are living is mainly commercially driven, consumer oriented, capitalist and highly competitive.

Institutionalized inequality occurs when it is unequal access to be included into the structures that maintain and support modern society. It can be even presumed that present social system needs these inequalities in order to maintain itself and survive in the long run. It is possible to follow evidence of this kind of inequality in such institutions as the government, the workforce, legislation (Acts and laws) and the legislature (law implementation and interpretation) (Vaughan and Hogg, 2005).
Class is the major principle of organization of contemporary capitalist societies, and is referred to the mechanism by which privilege power, and inequality are distributed and institutionalized. Class in the context of prejudice can be the less important issue then, for example, race, gender, education, ethnicity, or family background, but together they appear to constitute social class. Class can be the reason for snobbery and self-identity, but it is still mainly about the inequality (Vaughan and Hogg, 2005).

Socialization refers to the process of learning one’s culture, as well as the adaptation process within it. For an individual the process of socialization provides necessary habit sand skills in order to participate in life within definite society. It prepares people to the roles they need to play and tells how to play them to be successful. Primary agents of socialization are family, mass media, friends, and education. Secondary agents include religion, job and the state.

Institutional support implies the broad range of studies and actions including strategies for supporting poor people, development and action national plans design, gender issues, developing strategies for livelihoods improvements, etc. The key goal of those studies is the identification of strategic points where implemented changes can bring essential advantaged in terms of reducing poverty levels and improvement of people’s lives.

4. Motivational Sources of Prejudice
It is common that when the person has any problems, he or she is not likely to find the reason in their own behavior. They start actively seek for external factors and look for someone on whom they could possibly displace their aggression and frustration. It is what constitute scapegoat theory- they person picks the weaker person and makes him the reason of all his misfortunes.

Social identity theory claims that society provides its members with social identity which basically gives them the definition and evaluation of who they are and how should they behave in connection with that. Social identity refers to how the society views the individual and how one should behave in order to be associated with definite social group. Taking into consideration inter-group behaviors, prejudice among them occur on the ground of the status, and each group is striving create the positive social identity in order to satisfy the desire in positive self-esteem (Hogg and Abrams, 1988).
Motivation to avoid prejudice can be seen in each separate case in person’s needs and goals. This motivation is often considered the negative trait, as it indicates that the person does have definite prejudice regarding the other person, but due to his personal objectives and needs he chooses to avoid the prejudice to get what he wants. The person is not trying to fight the reasons of the prejudice arousal, but likely forces himself to avoid it. (Vaughan and Hogg, 2005).

5. Cognitive Sources of Prejudice
Categorization refers to the process when particular information or ideas are being recognized, differentiated and understood. This notion presumes that objects or ideas are grouped into categories so that can be easily referred to in future or for some other purpose. In some spheres categorization is fundamental and essential: language, decision-making, interference, etc. So, people can be categorized by numerous characteristics, which include race, gender, birth date, occupation, place of birth and place of living, company, religion, sexuality, etc.

Distinctiveness in relation to person refers to the cases when one is showing distinctive reactions or behaviors in different situations (Steele et al, 2002).

Attribution as the process involves the decision-making whether the behavior that is being observed is mainly caused by external or internal factors. So, internal attribution is the perception that outcomes are caused mainly by one’s personal motivation or desire rather then circumstances or fate. External attribution is referred the perception that the results are caused more by fate or situation in general rather then the person himself (Pratto et al, 1994).

6. Prejudice Consequences
Consequences of prejudice can be in some cases very harsh and hard to struggle with. Stereotypes first of all have the tendency to be self-perpetuating, as when one side considers that the other is behaving too aggressive, it has the tendency to behave in relation to the other in the same aggressive way. And the other side just received the support of the stereotypical preliminary assumption not understanding that it was he who became the reason for it.

Influence of discrimination as the self-fulfilling prophecy happens when expectation of one person about the other cause that person to behave in accordance with those expectations.

Self-fulfilling prophecy includes four steps: 1. expectations are being formed; 2. expectations influence the other person (for instance, high expectations from the definite task); 3. impact upon the person; 4. person’s behavior and performance.

Stereotype threat is the other possible consequence of the prejudice. Stereotype threat is said to be the fear that the behavior of one person is supposed to confirm the present stereotype of the society or group with which the person identifies himself with. Frequently that fear can be the obstacle for successful performance. For instance, the claim that women drive worse then men do, can affect their performance on the road (Miles et al, 2002).

The way to reduce prejudice among people is connected with the information people are getting. If their environment and mass media promotes arousal and development of prejudice, then it is the hard task to accomplish. People should get the appropriate information about cultural differences and other people’s behavior, learn to get the information first and then make conclusions, and try to know other people before making false statements about them.
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