Ethnic prejudices do die--but slowly. They can be helped over the threshold of oblivion, not by insisting that it is unreasonable and unworthy of them to survive, but by cutting off their sustenance now provided by certain institutions of our society.
If we find ourselves doubting man's capacity to control man and his society, if we persist in our tendency to find in the patterns of the past the chart of the future, it is perhaps time to take up anew the wisdom of Tocqueville's 122-year-old apothegm: "What we call necessary institutions are often no more than institutions to which we have grown accustomed."
Nor can widespread, even typical, failures in planning human relations between ethnic groups be cited as evidence for pessimism. In the world laboratory of the sociologist, as in the more secluded laboratories of the physicist and chemist, it is the successful experiment which is decisive and not the thousand-and-one failures which preceded it. More is learned from the single success than from the multiple failures. A single success proves it can be done. Thereafter, it is necessary only to learn what made it work. This, at least, is what I take to be the sociological sense of those revealing words of Thomas Love Peacock: "Whatever is, is possible."
Bernard Berelson and Patricia J. Salter
[ The sociological contributions to contemporary explanations of race prejudice are in terms of traditions that are passed on from one member of the society to another, especially from parent to child, and in terms of organized social forces that function to perpetuate the traditions. The recent study by Bernard Berelson and Patricia J. Salter shows how contemporary magazines reinforce the stereotypes about minority Americans. ]
This is a study of . . . exposure to anti-minority and promajority discrimination: the treatment of majority and minority groups in the popular fiction appearing in mass magazines. How do people meet the various ethnic and religious groups of this country in this channel of communication, which reaches a large____________________