Prejudice

To understand the category “prejudice”, anthropology needs to rely on psychology since it is primarily a mental disposition, which may or may not is translated into specific attitudes. According to José Leon Crochik, in Prejudice, Individual and Culture, prejudice has a plural dimension since it can take different forms in the face of social circumstances and disparate targets since, according to the author, prejudice is more related to the subject who practices it than to the object (target) at which it is aimed. The irrationality of prejudiced acts finds its root in the social environment of the prejudiced subject, i.e., in the framework of the “family, school, mass media”, among others (Crochik 1997: 16). In this sense, for Crochik there are two spheres of prejudice: the first as the result of unthinking acts, i.e., such irrationality of behaviours and, secondly, as the result of a “real or imaginary danger” (p.14).

Still in the framework of psychology, but now in the collective sphere, i.e., of Social Psychology, Gordon Allport, in The nature of prejudice, defines prejudice as a hostile or preventive attitude towards a person based on the idea of his belonging to another group, supposing him the existence of contestable characteristics which are attributed to that same group. Allport considers the prejudiced attitude to be a behaviour induced by groups of individuals by means of negative verbalisation, discrimination, avoidance, physical attack and, in even more extreme cases, extermination. This group-forming mental device facilitates the internalisation of prejudices since it is based on the immediate formulation of generalisations, which, accompanied by emotional factors, create a conviction about a group.

Since it is the socialisation that largely determines subjects’ standards, it is from their place of speech that the subject assimilates prejudice. In Crochik’s terms, prejudice depends on the “ideological, economic, psychic, religious, etc.” (1997: 17) principles in which subjects are socialised. Socialisation standardises the elements, forming a cohesion which operates as a protective shield on the basis of what is called “collective memory”. For the cohesion of the group to be maintained, it is necessary that the process of alterity be created on the basis of prejudice, thus generating a feeling of superiority. This social Darwinism hides, according to the author, a fear of losing one’s own condition, i.e., prejudice against the “other” allows one to marginalise him/her, preventing the inversion of the social position from dominator to dominated. The feeling of constant vulnerability feeds prejudice even more.

Cite this article as: João Ferreira Dias, "Prejudice," in Adarrum, accessed in 6 de Outubro, 2022, url: <https://jfdias.hypotheses.org/800>.

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