Throughout human history, prejudice and discrimination have existed. Prejudice refers to the irrational and inflexible attitudes that members of a particular group hold about members of another group (Sibley and Duckitt 248). Prejudices are either harmful or positive. Both forms of prejudice are usually preconceived by the people who hold them and are extremely difficult to alter (Stephan, Cookie and Stephan 33). The negative form of prejudices leads to discrimination- unjust behaviors that holders of negative prejudice direct against the victims of their prejudices (Sibley and Duckitt 251).
According to both psychology and sociology, the emotionality that is inherent in prejudice arises from subconscious attitudes which cause an individual to project feelings of inadequacy onto a target group as a way of warding off such feelings (Sibley and Duckitt 252). This view fundamentally relates prejudice to low self-esteem. People with low self-esteem boost their feelings of self-worth by hating certain groups.
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Social science studies have identified several social factors that contribute to prejudice. The first social factor that contributes to prejudice is socialization. Once particular prejudices are held, they are usually passed on amongst the members of a generation and from one generation to the next through socialization (Pettigrew, Thomas and Tropp 922). The second social factor that contributes to the existence of prejudice is conforming behaviors.
Usually, holding particular prejudices earn the support of significant others (Stangor 22). Therefore, individuals may hold certain prejudices to follow the opinions of their significant others. The third factor that contributes significantly to prejudice is ethnocentrism. It refers to the tendency of some individuals to rely on their cultural norms and values in evaluating the culture of other people (Oskamp 27). Such ethnocentric tendencies entail stereotypical thinking which serves to advance prejudice.
In her novel Frankenstein, Shelly uses the prejudices that Frankenstein and the other characters hold against the creature to reflect how prejudices function in the society and the impacts they have on the victims. The rejection of Frankenstein’s creature by Frankenstein and other members of the society is a manifestation of how prejudice against objects or individuals who reflect norms other than that which is accepted in the society is instilled through the fear of difference.
In psychology, the term refers to the state of representing abnormality (Wright and Lubensky 291). Such an abnormality is viewed as a threat to the social fabric by the members of the society who reflect the accepted norm (Wright and Lubensky 291). Whenever such threats arise, the ideological power structure that prevails at the time usually institute a response. There are two possible responses to such abnormalities. First, the ideological power structure of the time can outrightly reject the threat and destroy it (Navarrete et al. 933). Second, the ideological power structures can render it safe and take it up into the mainstream until the threatening aspects of its existence are diluted so that it replicates the society (Wright and Lubensky 293).
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