Essay by bigpapa March 2004

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Q1)Two theoretical causes of discrimination in society are prejudice and stereotyping. Prejudice is a belief about individuals or groups of people, which is generally derogatory, untrue and irrational. It is also usually based on stereotypes. These beliefs can be triggered by the colour of someone's skin but this is not always the case. It is believed that people who hold prejudiced views are unlikely to change. People only change their discriminatory attitudes through education and gaining more positive information and experiences. Stereotyping occurs when people or groups get categorised and put into types. This is also called labelling, Labels then become fixed and are normally a negative and distorted image. An effect of discrimination in society is a reduction in potential. Children who come from an ethnic minority background often find that their teachers and society's expectation of them are very low. In 1996 and OFFSTEAD report stated that teachers often misinterpreted black children's enthusiastic and energetic behaviour as aggression.

Another effect of discrimination in society would be the scapegoating of particular groups in society. Frequently at times of economic and/or political unrest, the dominant majority of a country looks to unfairly blame other mostly minority groups for their own or their countries problems. The scapegoats are usually a racial or religious minority, which are seen to be easy targets.

Q2a)As a form of discrimination an additional cause of racism would be having a fear and being ignorant about other cultures. Where Muslims are concerned this is called Islamaphobia. In the current global climate (post September 11th) this has become very common in particular, within western culture and society. Sections of the media have been accused of fanning the flames of this form of discrimination by using racist language and making sweeping generalisations with regards to certain religions and cultures.