GU Complete Sociology Discussion

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This chapter discusses Race and Ethnicity. The following three terms are defined here. Please give at least one example of each: Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination. Then explain in your own words the differences between Segregation, Assimilation, and Pluralism in our society today.

Stereotypes are oversimplified generalizations about groups of people. Stereotypes can be based on race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation—almost any characteristic. They may be positive (usually about one’s own group, such as when women suggest they are less likely to complain about physical pain) but are often negative (usually toward other groups, such as when members of a dominant racial group suggest that a subordinate racial group is stupid or lazy). In either case, the stereotype is a generalization that does not take individual differences into account.

Prejudice refers to the beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and attitudes someone holds about a group. Prejudice is not based on experience; instead, it is a prejudgment, originating outside actual experience. A 1970 documentary called Eye of the Storm illustrates the way in which prejudice develops, by showing how defining one category of people as superior (children with blue eyes) results in prejudice against people who are not part of the favored category.

Discrimination consists of actions against a group of people, while prejudice refers to biased thinking. Discrimination can be based on age, religion, health, and other indicators; race-based laws against discrimination strive to address this set of social problems. Discrimination based on race or ethnicity can take many forms, from unfair housing practices to biased hiring systems. Overt discrimination has long been part of U.S. history. In the late nineteenth century, it was not uncommon for business owners to hang signs that read, “Help Wanted: No Irish Need Apply.” And southern Jim Crow laws, with their “Whites Only” signs, exemplified overt discrimination that is not tolerated today.

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