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Chapter Four Societal Trends in Prejudice and Discrimination © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
The Decline of Prejudice n The overall trend is unmistakable: There has been a dramatic decline in support for prejudiced statements since World War II. n In the early 1940s, a large majority of white Americans supported prejudiced views. In recent years, only a small minority expresses such views. © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
The Decline of Prejudice © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
The Decline of Prejudice n Of course, these polls also show that prejudice has not vanished. n A percentage of the white population continues to endorse highly prejudicial sentiments and opinions. © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
Efforts to Reduce Prejudice and Discrimination n Persuasion is a form of communication that is deliberately intended to change opinions and attitudes; it advocates a particular point of view and attempts to create agreement. n The persuasive communication may be highly emotional or dry and factual, delivered face to face or through the mass media. n Social science research suggests that the media are much less persuasive than is often alleged. n Selective perception, the tendency to filter out unpleasant or disconcerting information, permits people to maintain their views even in the face of massive persuasion to the contrary. © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
Efforts to Reduce Prejudice and Discrimination The goal of education is to inform and enlighten with arguments and interpretations that are more grounded in “the facts,” which are (at least ideally) examined from multiple viewpoints. Education involves a more critical and open-minded learning process, whereas persuasion is more narrow and closed to other points of view. Education has frequently been singled out as the most effective cure for prejudice and discrimination. © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
Efforts to Reduce Prejudice and Discrimination © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
Efforts to Reduce Prejudice and Discrimination n A second possibility is that prejudice has not changed at all and that people (especially the more educated) are hiding their true feelings from the public opinion pollsters. n Also, research shows that the impact of education on prejudice is subject to many of the same kinds of limitations persuasion is—selective perception © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
Efforts to Reduce Prejudice and Discrimination n Equal status contact hypothesis: Prejudice will tend to decline when members of different groups with equal status and common goals are brought together to interact intensively in noncompetitive, cooperative tasks with the active endorsement of authority figures (Pettigrew, 1998, pp. 66-67). –Equal Status –Common Goals –Intergroup Cooperation and Intensive Interaction –Support of Authority, Law, or Custom © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
Prospects for Reducing Prejudice Further
n Personality-centered prejudice is difficult to reduce and probably impossible to eliminate, so a more realistic goal might be to discourage its open expression by penalty of law. n Culture-based or “traditional” prejudice differs not in intensity but in the extent to which it is resistant to change, so it may be easier for a person to unlearn prejudice through persuasion, education, and contact with members of other groups. n Intergroup conflict for societal resources also produces vicious, even lethal, prejudice and discrimination that best can be reduced by reducing inequities in the distribution of resources and opportunities, rather than by reducing stereotypes or negative attitudes. © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
Prospects for Reducing Prejudice Further n Unless there is a reduction in the level of racial and ethnic stratification in American society, individual prejudice will persist at some level despite persistent efforts at persuasion, rising levels of education, and increased contact and association across group lines. n Ethnic and racial inequalities persist despite the declining overt prejudice documented in public opinion polls and social distance scales. n The verbal rejection of extreme or overt prejudice has been combined with an unwillingness to examine the social, political, and economic forces that sustain minority group inequality and institutional discrimination. © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
Modern Racism n A number of scholars reject the idea that prejudice in the United States has declined and argue that it is simply changing forms. n They have been investigating symbolic or modern racism, a more subtle, complex, and indirect way to express negative feelings toward minority groups and opposition to change in dominant-minority relations (see Bobo, 1988, 2001; Kinder & Sears, 1981; Kluegel & Smith, 1982; McConahy, 1986; Sears, 1988). © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
Modern Racism n Specifically, modern racism assumes that: –(a) there is no longer any serious or important racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination in American society, –(b) any remaining racial or ethnic inequality is the fault of members of the minority group, and –(c) demands for preferential treatment or affirmative action for minorities are unjustified. © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
Racial/Ethnic Money Income in the United States: 2001 © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
Racial/Ethnic Poverty in the United States: 2001 © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
Modern Racism n Modern racism tends to “blame the victim” and place the responsibility for change and improvements on the minority groups, not on the larger society. © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
Modern Racism © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
Modern Sexism n Modern sexism, parallel to modern racism, asserts that: –(a) there is no longer any serious discrimination against women, –(b) women (specifically, feminists) are pushing their agenda too hard, and –(c) programs such as affirmative action are unwarranted and give women unfair advantages over men (Swim & Cohen, 1997, p. 105; Tougas, Rupert, & Joly, 1995, p. 843). © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
Modern Sexism © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
Hate Crime: A Resurgence of Prejudice? n Racial violence, hate crimes, and extremist racist groups are hardly new to the United States. n Modern-day hate crimes and extremist groups do have some new aspects. –Targets now include the gay community in addition to racial, ethnic, and religious minorities. –Contemporary white supremacist groups commonly use modern, sophisticated communications technology, including computer bulletin boards, the Internet, and fax machines. © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
Hate Crime: A Resurgence of Prejudice? n One possibility that fuels these phenomena is supplied by frustration, fear, anger, and scapegoating. n Some white Americans believe that minority groups are threatening their position in society and making unfair progress at their expense. n They feel threatened by what they perceive to be an undeserved rise in the status of minority groups and fear that they may lose their jobs, incomes, neighborhoods, and schools to what they see as “inferior” groups. © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
Hate Crime: A Resurgence of Prejudice? n If it is true that these phenomena are motivated by feelings of insecurity, what will happen as the U.S. economy continues to downsize and automate? n Extreme manifestations of prejudice and racism are not uncommon in our past, and if conditions are right, may not be so rare in the future. © Pine Forge Press, an imprint of Sage Publications, 2003
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