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Sociological Reasons

Issues of inequality and injustice in relationships between different groups of people have been highly decisive across the centuries. In fact, some sociologists argue that discrimination and social prejudice as we know them today might have emerged in ancient times. They could have developed from such initially adaptive strategy as fear of the unknown or of what is different and hard to understand. Some amount of healthy doubt is still acceptable on an individual level. However, on a group level it often extends to the amount of widespread prejudice, thus seizing to remain adaptive.


Social scientists have recognized a concordance of universal social factors, which contribute to the occurrence of discrimination and prejudice.  They argue that the majority of prejudices develop in the process of socialization through such primary social institutions, like family, and the mass media. Negative social prejudices are often revealed in discrimination. They are supported by what is defined as conforming behaviors (subconscious belief that rejecting prejudices may result in losing social support); economic benefits (which develop from the fact that people desire to have high incomes, prestigious jobs, and enjoy social stability and prosperity; these values, however, are not equally distributed, thus provoking conflicts of interests between members of different social groups); authoritarian personality (such individuals are especially inclined to thinking in terms of stereotypes. It is most probable that as children these people learned to control any distress or anxiety they face through severe attitudes (Fromm 1957)); ethnocentrism (a tendency to evaluate foreign cultures by one’s own cultural values and norms), and group closure (when separate groups draw a firm line between themselves and others) (Calhoun, Gerteis, Moody, Pfaff, & Virk, 2011). The occurrence of social stereotypes and discrimination is commonly described through the framework of conflict theory. This theory presupposes that privileged groups, aiming at perceiving their distinctive social status, significance, property and power, are doomed to ensure that no competition arises from minority groups. Consequently, underprivileged social groups may face indignation and violent obstacles, when attempting to improve their circumstances (Todd 2008).

Most commonly, social prejudice in American society implies gender, race and age discrimination. These issues have been crucial in social, economic and political spheres of life in America for many years. However, I believe that there can be found a reasonable solution to this state of things. John F. Kennedy once said, “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education”. Thus, I think that education should be viewed as one of the most favored means of fighting social stereotypes, intolerance, prejudice and ignorance, which eventually result in discrimination.  This opinion is central for a self-esteem hypothesis in sociology. According to another hypothesis, which I also believe to be effective and promising, is the contact hypothesis. It presupposes reaching a common consensus by promoting positive socialization experiences between members of different social groups. In its nature, this hypothesis reverses the group closure principle, from which discrimination originates. It is supported by hypothesis of cooperation, which suggests sharing common goals between the conflicting communities as means of acquiring a common positive experience. Moreover, prejudice can be eliminated by introducing compatible laws challenging discriminative behavior (Calhoun, Gerteis, Moody, Pfaff, & Virk, 2011).

In conclusion, I would like to underline that it is my personal and most faithful belief that in the nearest future, given the proper attitude and persistent common effort, the problem of discrimination in American society may be successfully diminished.

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