The Study of Man: Prejudice in American Society
DURING the past ten years or so the study of prejudice, which has figured importantly in American sociology virtually since it established itself as a separate discipline, has developed several new emphases. “Intergroup relations” are no longer studied merely as one aspect of American social life, but as a problem that exists in many countries, and indeed as a factor in international relations. In the United States, moreover, the analysis of intergroup relations is no longer restricted to racial or ethnic minorities, but now includes minorities defined by religious, cultural, occupational, or political criteria. There has been a tendency, finally, to shift our interest from a social to a psychological framework-from behavior patterns or institutions to attitudes or beliefs, from discrimination to prejudice, from a sociologist’s to a social psychologist’s view of minority-majority relations.
There is nothing sacrosanct about the traditional analysis of group prejudice, and there is no reason why another generation of social scientists should not reflect its new interests by developing a different conceptual framework; but in my opinion a good deal of the revision of the older theory has not represented an improvement. Very often basic principles underlying a study, say, of Negro-white patterns in the United States have been applied to the analysis of superficially similar relations to which they are not relevant. In this essay an attempt will be made to spell out some of these principles and thus to delimit the range of situations to which the concept of prejudice is properly applicable.
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