O NE of the major determinants of a minority group is that its members consider themselves to be a minority group. This feeling involves one or both of the following common attitudes among the members: (1) the members feel that they are the objects of prejudice and discrimination and that they need to combine in order to protest and to feel safe and comfortable; (2) the members feel that they have inherited cultural values, the expression of which requires that they continue to associate with each other. The former attitude creates a sense of group identification; the latter creates a community.
We use the term "group identification" in a positive sense. It involves not only a recognition that because of one's ancestry one is a member of a racial or religious group, and a recognition that the majority group defines one as belonging to that racial or religious group; it also involves a positive desire to identify oneself as a member of the group and a feeling of pleasure when one so identifies himself. Since group morale can be defined as the ability of members of a group to hold together in the face of adversity, and to act together in a concerted way to achieve the group's goals, group identification is closely related to group morale.
The majority group considers the members of the minority group to be alike, even if they are not, and it is not uncommon for members of the minority group to express their feelings of kinship by emphasizing those common traits that the majority group holds to be characteristic of them. The members of the group have common experiences that are important to them, and therefore they have common understandings. When the minority group emphasizes its minority characteristics and gives great weight to its common understandings, it may be said to have high morale or high group identification--it is proud of its minority status and is opposing the majority group. But a minority group