Socially constructed groups that were created by people based on race resulted in the formation of racist views and discriminatory attitudes. Consequently, socially vulnerable groups have to deal with the consequences of systematic racism. This essay will discuss similarities and differences between social psychology theories regarding race. These theories are social identity theory, social cognition theory, and social dominance theory. Furthermore, factors that move the evolution of social psychology forward, such as interdependence and racial diversity, will be discussed. Next, both the importance of racism and how it affects people working in business or industry will be described. It will be argued that the social issue of racism forms inequality and discriminatory views in society. As a result, people from particular racial groups working in business and industry are discriminated against while getting hired and working.
Theories Associated with Social Psychology and Racism
There are three social psychology theories: social identity, social cognition, and social dominance. Social identity theory suggests that people quickly and intuitively divide themselves into groups, such as ‘we’ and ‘they’ (Richeson & Sommers, 2016, p. 187). The division into groups motivates people to protect and favor the group that is closest to them. As a result, people become biased and develop ingroup favoritism tendencies. Intergroup conflicts occur when these groups try to divide both factual and symbolic scarce resources. For instance, people tend to fear catching diseases from immigrants (Richeson & Sommers, 2016). More generally, some natives fear losing their social status, thus, start discriminating against minority groups.
Social cognition theory, similar to social identity theory, claims that people construct social groups themselves. The division, in turn, creates stereotypes and prejudice, which leads to the formation of specific behavior while encountering different groups (Richeson & Sommers, 2016). One of the most common categorizations in the US is race. Social cognition suggests that social division based on race, stereotypes, and prejudice is formed towards racial groups. As a result, minority racial groups in the US are commonly oppressed. For example, due to bias towards African Americans and Mexicans, people fear being attacked around them (Richeson & Sommers, 2016).
In contrast to previous theories, social dominance theory states that people create groups in hierarchical order (Richeson & Sommers, 2016). As a result, those at the top of the hierarchy earn most of the scarce resources. Social dominance theory claims that hierarchical order can be created based on the age system, meaning that older people are considered superior to younger ones. Next, in the patriarchal system, women are located at the bottom of the hierarchy, while men enjoy privileges. Lastly, ranking can be arbitrarily created, such as dominance based on race, ethnicity, or religion.
Factors Involved the Evolution of Social Psychology
Factors that can drive the evolution of social psychology in terms of race forward are interdependence between racial groups and racial diversity. The original Brown Eyes Blue Eyes experiment focused on creating and emphasizing differences between them. These two groups developed harmful and discriminatory behaviors towards each other. Consequently, two groups could not work together, similar two Jim Raney, who could not communicate with his grandchild because of biased views. However, when he realized that his grandchild was partially dependent on him, he started changing his attitude. People who interdepend with each other can change their behavior (Thibaut & Kelley, 2017). Consequently, grandchild and grandfather became interdependent, which helped Jim Raney change his racist behavior.
In addition to interdependence, racial diversity can influence the evolution of social psychology. Because groups in the Brown Eyes Blue Eyes experiment were separated, they preferred not to interact. Likewise, Jim Raney initially separated himself from his daughter and grandson. After coming in contact with his grandson and experiencing racial diversity, he changed his opinion regarding African Americans. Thus, interdependence and racial diversity can result in people changing their discriminatory behavior by bringing different racial groups closer.
Importance of Racism as a Social Issue
Racial discrimination is a crucial problem for modern society because it creates inequality towards certain racial groups. Racial discrimination resulted in the unfair distribution of scarce resources. People from discriminated racial groups tend to lack resources for education and healthcare. For instance, in the US, white and African American communities tend to be separate because black people tend not to have enough money to live in a white neighborhood (Grosfoguel, 2016). Therefore, because of discriminatory views towards racial groups, people do not have equal opportunities or treatment.
Moreover, racial division creates unreasonable negative behavior towards minority groups. Because of racism, minority groups suffer from problems such as police brutality and microaggressions. For instance, Muslim people are discriminated against after the terrorist attack on the 11th of September. Moreover, racial bias towards immigrants, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Italy blamed African immigrants for bringing COVID-19 to Italy (Devakumar et al., 2020). Likewise, former US President Donald Trump called the COVID-19 virus the Chinese virus (Devakumar et al., 2020). Thus, racial discrimination and prejudice result in unreasonable hostile and aggressive behavior towards minority racial groups. This factor further exacerbates the problem of inequality in society. Inequality, in turn, is an abuse of human rights, thus a severe problem for our communities.
Racism in Business and Industry
People from minority racial groups face racism in the business or industry since employers avoid hiring them. Because of racial bias and prejudice, people tend to think that certain racial groups are inferior to others. As a result, the unemployment rate among racially discriminated groups is high. For example, in Canada, the unemployment rate among those born in Canada is 11.2%, while among African Canadians, the unemployment rate is 26.8% (Hasford, 2016). The number of unemployed African Canadians is twice the amount of unemployed native Canadians. Thus, minority groups are commonly unemployed because of discrimination.
In addition to discrimination during the hiring process, people from particular racial groups face discrimination and microaggressions at the workplace. As a result, they develop both menthol health issues and physical health issues. The study of adults over 50 years of age from 2008 to 2012 identified that black people in the US develop health issues because of constant discriminatory behavior (McCluney et al., 2018). These health conditions include problems with episodic memory function and mean arterial pressure (McCluney et al., 2018). Therefore, discrimination in business and industry results in health problems among employees who belong to socially oppressed groups.
To sum up, three theories suggest how racial groups were created. Social identity claims that people created these divisions to separate their group from others, which, in turn, created group favoritism. Social cognition theory states that discrimination resulted from stereotypes and prejudice. In contrast, social dominance theory proposes that people created groups in hierarchical order. Social groups and people’s social psychology can change with time due to several factors. For example, racial discrimination in our society can be changed by making groups interdependent and increasing racial diversity. The social issue of racism needs to be resolved to reduce inequality and discrimination. Because of inequality, people from minority ethnic groups tend to be unemployed and develop health issues.
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Hasford, J. (2016). Dominant cultural narratives, racism, and resistance in the workplace: A study of the experiences of young black Canadians. American Journal of Community Psychology, 57(1–2), 158–170.
McCluney, C. L., Schmitz, L. L., Hicken, M. T., & Sonnega, A. (2018). Structural racism in the workplace: Does perception matter for health inequalities? Social Science & Medicine, 199, 106–114.
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