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Discrimination is the prejudicial and/or distinguishing treatment of an individual based on their actual or perceived membership in a certain group or category, "in a way that is worse than the way people are usually treated."It involves the group's initial reaction or interaction, influencing the individual's actual behavior towards the group or the group leader, restricting members of one group from opportunities or privileges that are available to another group, leading to the exclusion of the individual or entities based on logical or irrational decision making.
Discriminatory traditions, policies, ideas, practices, and laws exist in many countries and institutions in every part of the world, even in ones where discrimination is generally looked down upon. In some places, controversial attempts such as quotas or affirmative action have been used to benefit those believed to be current or past victims of discrimination—but have sometimes been called reverse discrimination themselves.
The term discriminate appeared in the early 17th century in the English language. It is from the Latin discriminat- 'distinguished between', from the verb discriminare, from discrimen 'distinction', from the verb discernere.Since the American Civil War the term "discrimination" generally evolved in American English usage as an understanding of prejudicial treatment of an individual based solely on their race, later generalized as membership in a certain socially undesirable group or social category. "Discrimination" derives from Latin, where the verb discrimire' means "to separate, to distinguish, to make a distinction".
Moral philosophers have defined discrimination as disadvantageous treatment or consideration. This is a comparative definition. An individual need not be actually harmed in order to be discriminated against. He or she just needs to be treated worse than others for some arbitrary reason. If someone decides to donate to help orphan children, but decides to donate less, say, to black children out of a racist attitude, he or she will be acting in a discriminatory way even though people he discriminates against are actually benefitted by having some money donated to them.
Based on realistic-conflict theory and social-identity theory, Rubin and Hewstone have highlighted a distinction among three types of discrimination:
- Realistic competition is driven by self-interest and is aimed at obtaining material resources (e.g., food, territory, customers) for the in-group (e.g., favouring an in-group in order to obtain more resources for its members, including the self).
- Social competition is driven by the need for self-esteem and is aimed at achieving a positive social status for the in-group relative to comparable out-groups (e.g., favouring an in-group in order to make it better than an out-group).
- Consensual discrimination is driven by the need for accuracy and reflects stable and legitimate intergroup status hierarchies (e.g., favouring a high-status in-group because it is high status).
The United Nations stance on discrimination includes the statement: "Discriminatory behaviors take many forms, but they all involve some form of exclusion or rejection." International bodies United Nations Human Rights Council work towards helping ending discrimination around the world.
Ageism or age discrimination is discrimination and stereotyping based on the grounds of someone's age. It is a set of beliefs, norms, and values which used to justify discrimination and/or subordination based on someone's age. Ageism is most often directed towards old people, or adolescents and children.
Age discrimination in hiring has been shown to exist in the United States. Joanna Lahey, professor at The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M, found that firms are more than 40% more likely to interview a young adult job applicant than an older job applicant.
In a survey for the University of Kent, England, 29% of respondents stated that they had suffered from age discrimination. This is a higher proportion than for gender or racial discrimination. Dominic Abrams, social psychology professor at the university, concluded that Ageism is the most pervasive form of prejudice experienced in the UK population.
According to UNICEF and Human Rights Watch, caste discrimination affects an estimated 250 million people worldwide. Discrimination based on caste, as perceived by UNICEF, is prevalent mainly in parts of Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Japan) and Africa. Currently, there are an estimated 160 million Dalits or Scheduled Castes (formerly known as "untouchables") in India. In India the Ambedkar controversial cartoon issue rocked the parliament in May 2012 since it symbolized discrimination against castes.
Discrimination against people with disabilities in favor of people who are not is called ableism or disablism.Disability discrimination, which treats non-disabled individuals as the standard of ‘normal living’, results in public and private places and services, education, and social work that are built to serve 'standard' people, thereby excluding those with various disabilities.
In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act mandates the provision of equality of access to both buildings and services and is paralleled by similar acts in other countries, such as the Equality Act 2010 in the UK.
Denying someone employment, or disallowing one from applying for a job, is often recognized as employment discrimination when the grounds for such an exclusion is not related to the requirements of the position, and protected characteristics may include age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, height, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, skin color, and weight.
The United States federal laws that protect against:
- Race, color and national origin discrimination include the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order Number 11478 among other numerous laws that protect people from race, color and national origin discrimination.
- Sex and gender discrimination include the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Equal Pay Act of 1963.
- Age discrimination include the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.
- Physical and mental disability discrimination include the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
- Religious discrimination include the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- Military status discrimination include the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974
Most other western nations have similar laws protecting these groups.
Still unrelated to the requirements of the position, only 9% of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) are women while they are over 60% among accountants and auditors. And yet those who reach a high responsibility position are paid on average 16% lower than their male colleagues. (According to a recent report, 2013)
Diversity of language is protected and respected by most nations who value cultural diversity. However, people are sometimes subjected to different treatment because their preferred language is associated with a particular group, class or category. Commonly, the preferred language is just another attribute of separate ethnic groups. Discrimination exists if there is prejudicial treatment against a person or a group of people who speak a particular language or dialect.
Language discrimination is suggested to be labeled linguicism or logocism Anti-discriminatory and inclusive efforts to accommodate persons who speak different languages or cannot have fluency in the country's predominant or "official" language, is bilingualism such as official documents in two languages, and multiculturalism in more than two languages.
Discrimination on the basis of nationality is usually included in employment laws (see below section for employment discrimination specifically). It is sometimes referred to as bound together with racial discrimination although it can be separate. It may vary from laws that stop refusals of hiring based on nationality, asking questions regarding origin, to prohibitions of firing, forced retirement, compensation and pay, etc., based on nationality.
Discrimination on the basis of nationality may show as a "level of acceptance" in a sport or work team regarding new team members and employees who differ from the nationality of the majority of team members.
Racial or ethnic
Racial discrimination differentiates individuals on the basis of real and perceived racial differences and has been official government policy in several countries, such as Papua New Guinea in the apartheid era.
In the United States, racial profiling of minorities by law-enforcement officials has been called racial discrimination.As early as 1866, the Civil Rights Act provided a remedy for intentional race discrimination in employment by private employers and state and local public employers.
The Civil Rights Act of 1871 applies to public employment or employment involving state action prohibiting deprivation of rights secured by the federal constitution or federal laws through action under color of law. Title VII is the principal federal statute with regard to employment discrimination prohibiting unlawful employment discrimination by public and private employers, labor organizations, training programs and employment agencies based on race or color, religion, gender, and national origin.
Title VII also prohibits retaliation against any person for opposing any practice forbidden by statute, or for making a charge, testifying, assisting, or participating in a proceeding under the statute. The Civil Rights Act of 1991 expanded the damages available in Title VII cases and granted Title VII plaintiffs the right to a jury trial. Title VII also provides that race and color discrimination against every race and color is prohibited.
Within the criminal justice system in the United States, minorities are convicted and imprisoned disproportionately when compared to the majority. In 1998, nearly one out of three black men between the ages of 20-29 were in prison or jail, on probation or parole on any given day in the United States. Native Americans make up about 2% of Canada's population, but account for 18% of the federal prison population as of 2000. According to the Australian government's June 2006 publication of prison statistics, Aborigines make up 24% of the overall prison population in Australia.
In 2004, M?ori made up just 15% of the total population of New Zealand but 49.5% of prisoners. M?ori were entering prison at 8 times the rate of non-M?ori. A quarter of the people in England's prisons are from an ethnic minority. The Equality and Human Rights Commission found that five times more black people than white people per head of population in England and Wales are imprisoned. Experts and politicians said over-representation of black men was a result of decades of racial prejudice in the criminal justice system.
Discrimination against racially mixed people: The notion that people can be split into clean categories of race has turned into an unchallenged and non-debated assumption. People of more than one race are not only overlooked by society but often misjudged and represented. The assumption that race is immutable is deeply embedded in the social and legal construction of race today. Race is something created by society, yet society let's it determine much of our lives. People of mixed race are constantly subdued to judgment to be put in a category, this makes them easier to identify. By identifying where someone comes from, judgments can be made. Many applications and forms continue to allow only one box to be checked when it comes to race. Racially mixed people can also experience "otherness"- the feeling of not belonging to or being accepted by one group because you are part of another. For example- Not white enough to be white, not black enough to be black.
Regional or geographic discrimination is discrimination based on the region in which a person lives or was born. It differs from national discrimination in that it may not be based on national borders or the country the victim lives in, but is instead based on prejudices against a specific region of one or more countries. Examples include discrimination against mainland Chinese within China, or discrimination against Americans from the south in the United States. It is often accompanied by discrimination based on accent, dialect, or cultural differences.
Religious discrimination is valuing or treating a person or group differently because of what they do or do not believe or because of their feelings towards a given religion. For instance, the indigenous Christian population of Balkans (known as "rayah" or "protected flock") lived under the Ottoman Kanun–i–Rayah. The word is sometimes translated as 'cattle' rather than 'flock' or 'subjects' to emphasize the inferior status of the rayah.
Restrictions upon Jewish occupations were imposed by Christian authorities. Local rulers and church officials closed many professions to Jews, pushing them into marginal roles considered socially inferior, such as tax and rent collecting and moneylending, occupations only tolerated as a "necessary evil". The number of Jews permitted to reside in different places was limited; they were concentrated in ghettos and were not allowed to own land.
In a 1979 consultation on the issue, the United States commission on civil rights defined religious discrimination in relation to the civil rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Whereas religious civil liberties, such as the right to hold or not to hold a religious belief, are essential for Freedom of Religion (in the United States secured by the First Amendment), religious discrimination occurs when someone is denied " the equal protection of the laws, equality of status under the law, equal treatment in the administration of justice, and equality of opportunity and access to employment, education, housing, public services and facilities, and public accommodation because of their exercise of their right to religious freedom."
Some attempts at antidiscrimination have been criticized as reverse discrimination. In particular, minority quotas (for example, affirmative action) may discriminate against members of a dominant or majority group or other minority groups. In its opposition to race preferences, the American Civil Rights Institute's Ward Connerly stated, "There is nothing positive, affirmative, or equal about 'affirmative action' programs that give preference to some groups based on race." There are cases, however, such as the Noack v. YMCA case in U.S. Fifth Circuit Court, which include outright anti-male gender bias in a traditionally female work environment like childcare.
Sex, gender, and gender-identity
Though gender discrimination and sexism refers to beliefs and attitudes in relation to the gender of a person, such beliefs and attitudes are of a social nature and do not, normally, carry any legal consequences. Sex discrimination, on the other hand, may have legal consequences.
Though what constitutes sex discrimination varies between countries, the essence is that it is an adverse action taken by one person against another person that would not have occurred had the person been of another sex. Discrimination of that nature is considered a form of prejudice and in certain enumerated circumstances is illegal in many countries.
Sexual discrimination can arise in different contexts. For instance an employee may be discriminated against by being asked discriminatory questions during a job interview, or by an employernot hiring or promoting, unequally paying, or wrongfully terminating, an employee based on his or her gender.
In an educational setting there could be claims that a student was excluded from an educational institution, program, opportunity, loan, student group, or scholarship because of his or her gender. In the housing setting there could be claims that a person was refused negotiations on seeking a house, contracting/leasing a house or getting a loan based on his or her gender. Another setting where there have been claims of gender discrimination is banking; for example if one is refused credit or is offered unequal loan terms based on one’s gender. As with other forms of unlawful discrimination there are two types of sex discrimination – direct discrimination and indirect discrimination. Direct sex discrimination is fairly easy to spot – ‘Barmaid wanted’, but indirect sex discrimination, where an unnecessary requirement puts one sex at a disproportionate disadvantage compared to the opposite sex, is sometimes less easy to spot, although some are obvious – ‘Bar person wanted – must look good in a mini skirt’.
Another setting where there is usually gender discrimination is when one is refused to extend his or her credit, refused approval of credit/loan process, and if there is a burden of unequal loan terms based on one’s gender.
Socially, sexual differences have been used to justify different roles for men and women, in some cases giving rise to claims of primary and secondary roles.
While there are alleged non-physical differences between men and women, major reviews of the academic literature on gender difference find only a tiny minority of characteristics where there are consistent psychological differences between men and women, and these relate directly to experiences grounded in biological difference. However, there are also some psychological differences in regard to how problems are dealt with and emotional perceptions and reactions that may relate to hormones and the successful characteristics of each gender during longstanding roles in past primitive lifestyles.
The United Nations had concluded that women often experience a "glass ceiling" and that there are no societies in which women enjoy the same opportunities as men. The term "glass ceiling" is used to describe a perceived barrier to advancement in employment based on discrimination, especially sex discrimination.
In the United States in 1995, the Glass Ceiling Commission, a government-funded group, stated: "Over half of all Master’s degrees are now awarded to women, yet 95% of senior-level managers, of the top Fortune 1000 industrial and 500 service companies are men. Of them, 97% are white." In its report, it recommended affirmative action, which is the consideration of an employee's gender and race in hiring and promotion decisions, as a means to end this form of discrimination. In 2008, women accounted for 51% of all workers in the high-paying management, professional, and related occupations. They outnumbered men in such occupations as public relations managers; financial managers; and human resource managers.
The China's leading headhunter, Chinahr.com, reported in 2007 that the average salary for white-collar men was 44,000 yuan ($6,441), compared with 28,700 yuan ($4,201) for women.
The PwC research found that among FTSE 350 companies in the United Kingdom in 2002 almost 40% of senior management posts were occupied by women. When that research was repeated in 2007, the number of senior management posts held by women had fallen to 22%.
Transgender individuals, both male to female and female to male, often experience transphobic problems that often lead to dismissals, underachievement, difficulty in finding a job, social isolation, and, occasionally, violent attacks against them. Nevertheless, the problem of gender discrimination does not stop at transgender individuals or with women. Men are often the victim in certain areas of employment as men begin to seek work in office and childcare settings traditionally perceived as "women's jobs". One such situation seems to be evident in a recent case concerning alleged YMCA discrimination and a Federal Court Case in Texas. The case actually involves alleged discrimination against both men and blacks in childcare, even when they pass the same strict background tests and other standards of employment. It is currently being contended in federal court, as of fall 2009.
Discrimination in slasher films is relevant. Gloria Cowan had a research group study on 57 different slasher films. Their results showed that the non-surviving females were more frequently sexual than the surviving females and the non-surviving males. Surviving as a female slasher victim was strongly associated with the absence of sexual behavior. In slasher films, the message appears to be that sexual women get killed and only the pure women survive. Slasher films reinforce the idea that female sexuality can be costly.
- Sex Discrimination Act 1984
- Ontario Human Rights Code 1962
- Canadian Human Rights Act 1977
- Sex Discrimination Ordinance (1996)
- Prohibition of Discrimination in Products, Services and Entry into Places of Entertainment and Public Places Law, 2000
- Employment (Equal Opportunities) Law, 1988
- Prohibition of libel law 1965.
- Article 137c, part 1 of Wetboek van Strafrecht prohibits insults towards a group because of its race, religion, sexual orientation (strait or gay), handicap (somatically, mental or psychiatric) in public or by speech, by writing or by a picture. Maximum imprisonment one year of imprisonment or a fine of the third category.
- Part 2 increases the maximum imprisonment to two years and the maximum fine category to 4, when the crime is committed as a habit or is committed by two or more persons.
- Article 137d prohibits provoking to discrimination or hate against the group described above. Same penalties apply as in artickle 137c.
- Article 137e part 1 prohibits publishing a discriminatory statement, other than in formal message, or hands over an object (that contains discriminatory information) otherwise than on his request. Maximum imprisonment is 6 months or a fine of the third cathegory.
- Part 2 increases the maximum imprisonment to one year and the maximum fine category to 4, when the crime is committed as a habit or committed by two or more persons.
- Article 137f prohibits supporting discriminatory activities by giving money or goods. Maximum imprisonment is 3 months or a fine of the second cathegory.
- Equal Pay Act 1970 – provides for equal pay for comparable work
- Sex Discrimination Act 1975 – makes discrimination against women or men, including discrimination on the grounds of marital status, illegal in the workplace.
- Human Rights Act 1998 – provides more scope for redressing all forms of discriminatory imbalances
- Equal Pay Act of 1963 – (part of the Fair Labor Standards Act) – prohibits wage discrimination by employers and labor organizations based on sex
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – broadly prohibits discrimination in the workplace including hiring, firing, workforce reduction, benefits, and sexually harassing conduct
- Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited discrimination in the sale or rental of housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity is charged with administering and enforcing the Act.
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – covers discrimination based upon pregnancy in the workplace
- Violence Against Women Act
One’s sexual orientation is a “predilection for homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality”. Like most minority groups, homosexuals and bisexuals are not immune to prejudice and discrimination from the majority group. They may experience hatred from others because of their sexual preferences; a term for such hatred based upon one’s sexual orientation is often called homophobia. Many continue to hold negative feelings towards those with non-heterosexual orientations and will discriminate against people who have them or are thought to have them.
In 2009, ILGA published a report based on research carried out by Daniel Ottosson at Södertörn University College, Stockholm, Sweden. This research found that of the 80 countries around the world that continue to consider homosexuality illegal, five carry the death penalty for homosexual activity, and two do in some regions of the country. In the report, this is described as "State sponsored homophobia". This happens in Islamic states, or in two cases regions under Islamic authority.
On February 5, 2005 the IRIN issued a reported titled "Iraq: Male homosexuality still a taboo." The article stated, among other things that honor killings by Iraqis against a gay family member are common and given some legal protection. In August 2009 Human Rights Watch published an extensive report detailing torture of men accused of being gay in Iraq, including the blocking of men's anuses with glue and then giving the men laxatives. In South Africa, same-sex unions are often condemned as "un-African." Research shows 86% of black lesbians from the Western Cape live in fear of sexual assault.
A number of countries, especially those in the Western world, have passed measures to alleviate discrimination against sexual minorities, including laws against anti-gay hate crimes and workplace discrimination. Some have also legalized same-sex marriage or civil unions in order to grant same-sex couples the same protections and benefits as opposite-sex couples. In 2011, the United Nations passed its first resolution recognizing LGBT rights.
Social theories such as egalitarianism assert that social equality should prevail. In some societies, including most developed countries, each individual's civil rights include the right to be free from government sponsored social discrimination. Due to a belief in the capacity to perceive pain or suffering shared by all animals, "abolitionist" or "vegan" egalitarianism maintains that the interests of every individual (regardless its species), warrant equal consideration with the interests of humans, and that not doing so is "speciesist".
Conservative and anarcho-capitalist
In contrast, conservative writer and law professor Matthias Storme has claimed that the freedom of discrimination in human societies is a fundamental human right, or more precisely, the basis of all fundamental freedoms and therefore the most fundamental freedom. Author Hans-Hermann Hoppe, in an essay about his book Democracy: The God That Failed, asserts that a natural social order is characterized by increased discrimination. Other conservatives, such as economist Thomas Sowell, do not express such views.
Discrimination, in labeling theory, takes form as mental categorization of minorities and the use of stereotype. This theory describes difference as deviance from the norm, which results in internal devaluation and social stigma that may be seen as discrimination. It is started by describing a "natural" social order. It is distinguished between the fundamental principle of fascism and social democracy. The Nazis in 1930s-era Germany and the pre-1990 Apartheid government of South Africa used racially discriminatory agendas for their political ends. This practice continues with some present day governments.
State discrimination vs. free market discrimination
In the 1990s, Bhutan expelled or forced to leave its Hindu population in the name of preserving its Buddhist culture and identity.
In politics, the dominating part of the population rules. Some believe the anti-semitic practices of the Nazi-Germany would not have happened in free markets, because they would have caused losses.
However, government officials and politicians need not care about losses as much as companies, which decreases their incentive not to discriminate. For example, around 1900 African-Americans started to compete for jobs that had previously been all-white. Officials, voted in by white majorities, changed the hiring rules for the federal civil service. Photographs of applicants were made obligatory in civil service job applications, and hiring officials were given discretion to choose between the three top scoring applicants. The number of blacks in federal employment was kept artificially low for decades.
In early 20th century South Africa mine owners preferred hiring black workers because they were cheaper. Then the whites successfully persuaded the government to enact laws that highly restricted the black's rights to work (see Apartheid).
Similarly, to make more profits, producers secretly hired screenwriters who were on Senator Joseph McCarthy's blacklist, which mitigated the effects of the list.
When the "Jim Crow" racial segregation laws were enacted in the U.S., many companies disobeyed them for years, because the market automatically punishes companies that discriminate: they lose customers and get additional expenses. It took 15 years for the government to break down the resistance of the companies.
Markets punish the discriminator
The Nobel prize winning economist Gary Becker showed in his book The Economics of Discrimination (University of Chicago Press, 1957) how the markets automatically punish the companies that discriminate.
The profitability of the company that discriminates is decreased, and the loss is "directly proportional to how much the employer's decision was based on prejudice, rather than on merit." Indeed, choosing a worker with lower performance (in comparison to salary) causes losses proportional to the difference in performance. Similarly, the customers who discriminate against certain kinds of workers in favor of less effective ones have to pay more for their services, on average.
If a company discriminates, it typically loses profitability and market share to the companies that do not discriminate, unless the state limits free competition protecting the discriminators.
The above description of microeconmic theory results misses the ambivalent relations between discrimination and economic efficiency, as shown by the literature. First and in contradiction to the above text, Becker’s explanation, “discriminatory tastes,” was shown to be problematic because it implies discrimination is efficient. In other words, the very aim of the markets is to cater efficiently for the different "tastes" of all individuals, including customers, employees, employers, and firm owners (and discrimination happens within and between all these groups). If discrimination were just another "taste" then the markets were not to punish for it. Second, microeconomic theory turns to unusual method - explicit treatment of production functions - when it analyzes discrimination. And third, the very existence of discrimination in employment (defined as wages which differ from marginal product of the discriminated employees) at the long run, contradicts perfect competition and efficiency (which imply equality of wages and the said marginal product). Hence, the very existence of discrimination at the long run, contradicts the claim that the markets function well and punish the discriminators.
- Gorman, Linda (2008). "Discrimination". In David R. Henderson (ed.). Concise Encyclopedia of Economics (2nd ed.). Indianapolis: Library of Economics and Liberty. ISBN 978-0865976658. OCLC 237794267.