Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination

By Stuart Oskamp | Go to book overview

3
Gender and Race Discrimination: The Interactive Nature of Disadvantage

Jim Sidanius University of California, Los Angeles

Rosemary C. Veniegas University of California, Berkeley

While many parts of the world made great strides in reducing racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination during the 1960s and 1970s, a casual glance across the globe quickly reveals that the scourges of ethnic and gender intolerance are far from having been eliminated. Despite intense and almost desperate efforts to eliminate ethnic intolerance and discrimination, they appear to be every bit as bad at the close of the 20th century as at the beginning of the century. The questions addressed by this chapter are: Why are ethnic, racial, and gender discrimination so difficult to eliminate, and what can we do to hasten their demise?

Traditional approaches to the study of prejudice and discrimination within social psychology and sociology have viewed sexism and racism largely within the same broad conceptual framework and essentially as different manifestations of the same underlying phenomenon. In contrast, we will argue that, while these two forms of discrimination are clearly related, they are also qualitatively and dynamically distinct. Using social dominance theory as our conceptual frame of reference, we suggest that we cannot hope to eradicate ethnic or gender prejudice until we have a better understanding of exactly how these two social phenomena are both similar to and different from one another.

Social dominance theory begins with the observation that human societies are structured as group-based social hierarchies, with dominant groups enjoying a disproportionate amount of positive social value (e.g., wealth, power, and status) while subordinate groups suffer from a disproportionate amount of negative social value (e.g., poverty, stigmatization, and imprisonment -- see Pratto, in press; Sidanius, 1993; Sidanius & Pratto, 1993, 1999). Social dominance theorists argue that groupbased social hierarchies can be classified into three distinct categories: (a) an age

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