Stigma and Ethnocentrism – Prejudice and Bias (SOC)

by Tarry Ahuja, PhD

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    00:01 So stigma is something that we’ve talked about a lot. And we are going to continue to bring up. But it refers to, especially social stigma, it refers to the disapproval of a individual or group on a specific social characteristic that is perceived. So many times, social stigma is affixed by the greater society and not the individual. So it's just something that the society as a whole is overlaying on a subcategory of people. So, examples that we've already thrown around. So, all lawyers are untrustworthy. Or people with tattoos are all thieves and so on and so on. You can slice this pie several different ways. But what I am doing here is the broader society not even a group. So a large society has these stigmas that they apply. And they are really, really tough to disapprove and discount and change because it is such a broad population that’s saying or believing in this stigma. So, there is three forms of social stigma that we are going to highlight here.

    01:08 So one is based on obvious external deformities. So physical disabilities, obesity. So again, you know you might see somebody who is overweight and say, and this is something that is extremely prevalent in todays society because obesity is becoming such an epidemic. But you see somebody who is overweight walk by. And you kind of sneer and snicker and there is this stigma saying, “Oh what a fattie and he is such a lazy and probably eats like a pig.” Well, maybe it’s none of those things. And maybe it’s because they have a gland issue or they’ve had surgery done. And or they got into a huge accident and they can no longer exercise. Or you know, there is a lot of different scenarios that could be causing the obesity that are no way, shape or form related to their level of desire to exercise or eat healthy or do well. Something like a physical disability, right. So, this person is in a wheelchair. So they obviously, they can’t perform any physical function. There is no way they could travel or drive away or drive the car. And these are obvious deficiency that this person might have. But they are looking at the disability and not the ability. And so they are looking at that physical disability and making some social stigma. And you hear about this all the time with people with mental illness, people with other disorders like Down syndrome or about people that are autistic. And society has said, “Well, you know you have a mental issue or you have Down syndrome. So you obviously, you know you are not going to get a job. You are not going to find a partner and get married.

    02:39 There is a lot of stigma associated with that. And as a result a lot of people will end up actually where possible. That’s why we are saying this are obvious externals. But if there are not so obvious, they’ll maybe hide their underlying issue because of the social stigma. They don’t want that associated with them. There is deviations in personal traits. Here we go, mental disorder, addiction, criminal background. If you suffer from depression, it might not be something you want to discuss right. And so, thankfully, the stigma around mental illness has changed a lot. So, in the last 5 to 10 years, it has become something that you can actually discuss in an open form and the stigma associated with that has really, really changed. Thankfully. Because we are now able to appreciate that it is an illness. And that if something that you hide or goes undetected or undiscussed it could become a serious issue. And things like addiction, in a criminal background. If you are applying for employment, sometimes the question that they will ask you, “Have you ever been arrested? Do you have a criminal background?” If you hide that, it’s because you are trying to get a job. But it, and once you get identified as having of one of these issues. It could lay this social stigma making it very difficult to say find employment. A third one is called tribal stigma. And this is where you are being labelled based on your ethnicity or nationality. And this is very similar to things like stereotyping or cultural stereotypes. And in that we are looking at your association with this ethnic group. And then, we're applying a social stigma to this broader group and as a result you are being identified as that individual. So these are all three different types of social stigma. Now, we are going to look at one last topic and it’s around ethnicity. So, ethnocentrism is a view that believes one culture is superior to another and the tendency to judge people from another culture by the standards of one's own. So, this doesn’t even always have to be related directly to ethnicity. But it might be in your little subcultures. Say for example, you are one who loves the downtown life. So you live in a condo right downtown. And you have a couple of friends who live in a suburbs or on the outskirts of city. And you know, you roll your eyes when you say, “You know, my friend Dave lives out in the burbs.” And they are saying, “Well, being in the city is much better.” And this is where all the action's at. And look at the night life, the restaurants, the shopping and it's hustling and bustling. And in your eyes, this is what is ideal and anything outside of this is not. And so you are comparing everything to your culture which is downtown living.

    05:21 And that’s why we say ethnocentrism. Because you are being self-centered. You are centering, you are thinking around yours, okay. So, we know that’s not always ideal right. So you could flip that in the person who lives in the burbs or in the rural areas might be saying, “Oh my God, I can’t believe you live in the city. What a headache that is. Finding parking, the traffic, the noise. It's not quiet. There's so much crime. I don’t want that. I want peace and quiet. And now this other individual, you know, is looking at the downtown living in comparison to their lifestyle or their culture. So in those two scenarios, you'd have an In-group and an Out-group. The in-group is the social group that one identifies with and tends to be favored. And if you are different than that in-group, we would say that’s the out-group. So social group that one does not identify with and considers a threat, okay. So this could apply to things like, “Where you live?” It could apply to things like race, culture, genders. There is a lot of ways. Again, it seems to be the same characteristics but that’s the case. That’s how you can do it. So you can look at any of those things and look at it whether it's in-group or out-group. Now, let's move to cultural relativism. Cultural relativism involves judging another culture by their specific cultures beliefs and ethics. More specifically there is nothing inherently right or inherently wrong in cultural practices. Everything should be evaluated based on individual cultural standards. For example, coining and moxibustion which seem to be dangerous and bizarre practices in some countries are widely used and are widely accepted by another group of individuals. Cultural relativism embraces the individuality of each culture and respects its moral beliefs. Sometimes though this is not easy to do, especially when cultures are drastically different.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Stigma and Ethnocentrism – Prejudice and Bias (SOC) by Tarry Ahuja, PhD is from the course Social Thinking.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Social stigma
    2. Discrimination
    3. Social facilitation
    4. Prejudice
    5. Stereotype
    1. Cultural relativism
    2. Ethical ethnocentrism
    3. Modernized social stigma
    4. Ability-centered stigma
    5. Between-group thinking
    1. Ethnocentrism
    2. Egocentrism
    3. Industry vs. inferiority
    4. Prejudice
    5. Social bias

    Author of lecture Stigma and Ethnocentrism – Prejudice and Bias (SOC)

     Tarry Ahuja, PhD

    Tarry Ahuja, PhD

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