1. Define prejudice, discrimination, and institutionalized inequality and give good examples from your everyday life of each.
- Generally speaking from a sociological perspective, an immense amount of vocabulary have inevitably become complex social constructs that stem from the root causes of ideological beliefs. People argue that the basis of social constructions most often originate from hegemonic ideologies proposed by dominant groups and ruling elites of the West. It is naive to presume that certain terms or labels are recent additions to the dictionary, because it simply is not. Social constructions are rooted from a lack of knowledge, intolerance, and ignorance.
The term “prejudice” is clearly just a term; however, there is a presence of complexity behind it in which sociologists have come to define the word as a “symptom” (CQA). As previously mentioned, labels are preconceived notions that do not source from historical knowledge, it usually comes from much cynicism about a particular group of people who possess biological differentiations than the mainstream or dominant group. Prejudice is ultimately an irrational and negative attitude towards characteristics of a particular ethnicity, nationality, racial group, gender, or sexual orientation. Situations of prejudice arise on a global scale; however, a key example here in Vancouver is the irrational judgements made towards almost all South Asian males. Given the negative media portrayals of South Asian males as “thugs”, “gangsters”, “dangerous”, and so forth is just one of the consequences of prejudice given by the media and the dominant class who have ignorantly chosen not to educate themselves about South Asians in general. Intellectually speaking, expanding discourse and the depletion of these social constructs (not the word, but the circumstances) can be a very large stepping stone in preventing these types of overgeneralizations.
Discrimination is present all over the world. The term is defined as the unequal treatment of a particular group of people who possess attributes that differentiate from the mainstream or dominant populations in a specific region. Discrimination has taken place during the earlier phases of hierarchical construction (e.g. colonization), and has been an ongoing problem until modern day. An interesting example took place here in Canada during the second world war when Japanese-Canadians were segregated and marginalized from the mainstream populations, and then placed in concentration camps in the rural parts of country. The reasons are apparent, and there is no point of elaborating any further, but discrimination is clearly a factor. Today, discrimination also occurs; however, from a sociological perspective, we can now see a more subtle form of it. This becomes increasingly complex because there are different forms of discrimination that does not solely focus on the colour of one’s skin, but at times it deals with gender, religion, and so forth. Within the present work force here in Canada, it is statistically evident that males in higher paying and higher positioned jobs is paramount — more than women in the working sectors. This clearly exemplifies a faction of unequal treatment in the modern era.
Institutionalized inequality seems to be a broader term that represents institutionalized oppression, discrimination and racism. This particular term usually takes place in governmental policies, working environments, educational institutions, and so forth. Institutionalized inequality creates marginalization and subordination amongst members of minority populations. At times, certain restrictions may come from the basis of gender, height, and weight factors; but, more complexity arises when these types of restrictions are in fact unintentional. Intentionality however is very existent in institutionalized inequality, especially within the setting of educational institutions. Hegemony plays a significant role, even more when gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are involved. There is an immense presence of exclusion within school atmospheres here in British Columbia where youth who are homosexual or bisexual tend to be naturally marginalized (especially in high schools) amongst the rest of the students. Teachers are unintentionally involved as well in these circumstances, simply because they are most often obliged as their duty to embed hegemonic ideologies to their students. A major example which took place in my high school several years back was where a student had bluntly used the word “fag” in the classroom. Instead of elaborating on the meaning and connotation of the word used, the teacher had simply explained it to be a “bad word”.
2. Are positive stereotypes, like all Asians are good at math, all blacks can jump, ever be negative? Why or why not?
- Are stereotypes ever positive? Just because an overall description about the appearance or characteristic of a specific group of people imply a positive statement does not mean it is necessarily positive. It simply provokes the generalizations of members from a particular racial group and encourages the ongoing fluidity of ignorance — in my opinion this is certainly not positive. Stereotypes is somewhat contradictory to the word prejudice, because stereotyping does not always come from negative attitudes. It only appears to ‘normalize’ one’s belief without any knowledge of an overall population.
3. Does prejudice exist in every racial grouping? Why or why not?
- Through years of accumulating knowledge within the realms of inequality on a global level, I truly believe it is safe to say that prejudice does exist in every racial grouping. Even amongst white populations, religion, sexual orientation and even gender more or less play a significant role in almost all racial groupings. Borders are evidently a social construct that have created inevitable disparities amongst populations who ultimately share common interests (including biological genome); whether it be rural versus urban. In Rwanda, the Hutu and Tutsi population construe a definite presence of prejudice between each other. It is ultimately this ongoing struggle amongst groups over economic, political, and social resources that create problems. This creates a so-called “tug-of-war” (CQA) between racial groups even if physical attributes are no longer relevant in the matter, but only used as an excuse to justify irrationality.
4. Does every racial group discriminate? Why or why not?
- Sociologically speaking, we cannot denote racial groups discriminating; however, it all comes down to individual perspectives. Cohesiveness becomes important as a group of people may discriminate towards another group of people, only if they share a similar perception or have experienced a particular circumstance with a different racialized group. However, if individuality is most important to one, a collective perception of negative judgements and labels will most often be disregarded. Elements of ignorance or lack there of, and elements of cultural relativism and knowledge play an immense role; realistically, it may be existent that every racial group discriminates.
5. When are racial groups racist?
- Racism is obviously a re-occurring theme that takes place during events that represent immense cynicism. Also, racial groups tend to be racist subsequent to a particular event which then justifies the unequal treatment of others. The best example would be World War II, as previously mentioned that Japanese-Canadians were locked away in concentration camps due to their nationality and the outcome of prejudice. These actions seemed to justify the displacement of Japanese-Canadian populations in Canada.