This report will attempt to explain the meaning and implications of the terms Prejudice, Discrimination, Stereotyping, and Scapegoat. It will also look at two case studies in order to illustrate prejudice and discrimination in action. Prejudice and Discrimination Prejudice and Discrimination are difficult to separate as they typically appear together. Prejudice is defined as “A preconceived opinion”. while Discrimination is defined as “Biased or unfavourable treatment”, both taken from Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus 3 (Oxford University Press, 2001).
Discrimination converts the mental process of prejudice into action. It is wildly accepted that discrimination is the action, while prejudice is the thought. Both of these terms can be used in a positive sense in an attempt add a modicum of equality to society. For example, disabled drivers receive the most convenient parking spaces and people with learning disabilities such as dyslexia receive extra assistance within the education system. However this can often leave other sections of the the population feeling prejudiced and/or discriminated against.
Prejudice and discrimination are more often seen for their negative impact on society; the treatment of blacks in the US during the 19th and 20th century, and Hitler’s treatment of the Jews during WW2 are examples of prejudice leading to discrimination. In both of these scenarios the seeds of prejudice filtered down from the higher echelons of power. The white population of America were told that blacks were second class citizens; the population believed their government would only tell them the truth, and this propaganda set the seeds of prejudice, and discrimination began to blossom.
Hitler persecuted the Jews because he hated them. He blamed them for Germany’s economic and social problems. The Jews were also blamed for Germany’s defeat in World War 1. The German people took the prejudice from their government and implemented state sponsored discrimination on their behalf. Stereotyping Stereotype is defined as “A person or thing seeming to conform to a widely accepted type”, Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus 3 (Oxford University Press, 2001). “A stereotype is a one sided, exaggerated and normally prejudicial view of a group” states The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology, fourth edition, (Penguin Group, 2000).
For prejudice and discrimination to exist there must be a set of preconceived stereotypes. These are a set of simplistic generalizations about a group that allows others to categorize them and treat them accordingly. Humans practice the art of stereotyping all the time, it is instinctive. For instance, when a young black man has a expensive car, there are sections of the population which would immediately stereotype him as a criminal. A man wearing a tight fitting shirt and displaying effeminate behaviour would be stereotyped as a homosexual.
Stereotyping is more synonymous with race, gender and sexuality. In Nazi Germany racial stereotyping was used to great effect. Hitler used age-old stereotypes about Jews cheating with money, he also stereotyped the Jews as trouble makers who were in league with communists and other hated groups perceived as trying to harm the German people. Scapegoat A Scapegoat is defined as “a person blamed for others faults” Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus 3 (Oxford University Press, 2001). This process is an inherent developmental factor of life. It is caused by the human need to absolve itself of sin.
The term itself dates back to the bible, Aaron sent a goat in the the wilderness to die, the goat was said to have been embodied with the sins of all the Jews thus giving us the term scape goat. Human sacrifice was the sacrifice of a scapegoat, the victim was dying for the benefit of the whole community. It was said this would appease the gods. Hitler made German Jews scapegoats, he blamed them for Germany’s economic and social problems.. Scapegoats are integral to the process of evolution and unfortunately there is not a lot that can be done about it.
Prejudice and Discrimination in Action – Nazi Germany Adolf Hitler was a great exponent of both Prejudice and Discrimination. After WWI Germany was a shadow of her former self; her economy was limping along like an injured animal. By the time Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933 there were six million unemployed workers in Germany. Germany was in the grips of a depression. The German people were angry, they hated the Allies for doing this to them. Hatred was growing throughout the minds of the German people.
It is conceivable that Hitler knew this, if he did know this it is also conceivable that he could direct his people anger and hatred inward. The Jews were a suitable enemy in Hitler’s mind. By providing his people with a common enemy he was able to unify them behind him. His mighty propaganda machine started to roll, he blamed the Jews for Germany’s defeat in WWI, he blamed them for German’s many social and economic problems. He frightened the ruling classes by accusing the Jews of being in league with the communists.
German Jews were made to wear armbands with Stars of David on them. They were beaten in the streets by groups of thugs. Jewish business were targeted; they were forced to paint Stars of David on the doors, guards were placed at the doors in order to deter people from entering. Hitler even got his message to the children of Germany; ‘Children at schools were taught specifically anti-Semitic ideas. Jewish school children were openly ridiculed by teachers and the bullying of Jews in the playground by other pupils went unpunished’ www. historylearningsite. o. uk(Chris Truman BA (Hons), MA, 2000). Very quickly Jewish children stopped returning to school. This played in to the hand of Hitler. Chris Trumann had this to say on the subject ‘If the Jewish children responded by not wanting to go to school, then that served a purpose in itself and it also gave the Nazi propagandists a reason to peddle the lie that Jewish children were inherently lazy and could not be bothered to go to school’. www. historylearningsite. co. uk(Chris Trumann (Hons), MA, 2000). In 1935 the Nuremberg laws were passed.
Marriage between Jews and none Jews was forbidden, their rights as German citizen were revoked. If they were lucky enough to have the money to leave they did. Those that couldn’t suffered. Shops simply refused to sell Jews product’s making it impossible for families to eat even if they could afford to. A large part of Germany’s pre-war Jewish population was put to work or death, in one of Germany’s many Concentration Camps. “When I came to power, I did not want the concentration camps to become old age pensioners homes, but instruments of terror. – Adolf Hitler(date and location unknown) http://www. phrases. org. uk/meanings/holocaust-quotations. htmlCopyright © Gary Martin(1996 – 2010). Prejudice and discrimination became racial intolerance and the mass murder. Deaf discrimination at the turn of the century Health and Social care provision for the deaf greatly improved during the course of the 20th century. This is especially true since the formation of the Health Service in 1947. The first forty years of the twentieth century were another matter. At the turn of the century the prejudice and discrimination the deaf faced was horrendous.
The education system ignored the deaf, it was assumed that deaf people had some kind of learning difficulty. Teacher placed low expectations on deaf students. Some children missed out on school all together. In the early part of the century countless deaf children were rejected. They were given up by parents who believe that their child had an abnormality or imperfection. Parents that wanting to keep their children were having to fight for them. Others were sending them away to special boarding schools for the deaf where often the only input the children would receive would be to be punished.
Their mail was often opened on receipt and they had very little privacy. There were no exams and no chance of going to university. The deaf school allowed the creation of early forms of sign language giving deaf children communication for the first time. Although this was student led rather than teacher led. The medical profession discriminated against the deaf offering no solutions to deafness. They seemed unaware of the links between infant illness and deafness. There were more deaf children in poor families as they were more likely to catch childhood diseases.
Hosts of deaf children found themselves in asylums; deafness was being treated like a mental health related condition. Young children were placed on a wards with adults. They were subjected to sexual assault and other forms of abuse. None of this was ever investigated. There were even sections of the medical community that believed deaf women should have been sterilised, believing that this would prevent the birth of more deaf children. The deaf found it difficult to obtain employment, although this became slightly easier for them after WWI.
The deaf helped to filled the hole in the employment market after the great war. Ignorance was rife in the arena of work. Deaf workers were expected to work for less than their hearing counterparts and they often worked alone in isolation. The deaf were excluded from many areas of society. This was embodied in 1926 when the general strike proved just how much political exclusion they were subjected to. The deaf took no part in the strike. The 1930’s bought silent films, for a while a modicum of equality was added and deaf and hearing people could enjoy an activity together.
This was short lived however, with the invention of talking films. There were also deaf clubs beginning to open in towns and cities around the country, these were usually run by the clergy. They would become the centre of the deaf community over the 50 years, a place where deaf people could feel safe, away from the discrimination of the hearing. It provided socialisation for those who had previously lived in complete isolation. Although these centres were good for the deaf community they did serve to emphasise the gap between the deaf world and the world the hearing.
The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology, forth edition, (Penguin Group, 2000)
www.historylearningsite.co.uk(Chris Truman BA (Hons), MA, 2000)
Adolf Hitler(date and location unknown) http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/holocaust-quotations.html Copyright © Gary Martin(1996 – 2010)