Definition of Discrimination
(noun) The unequal treatment of an individual or group on the basis of their statuses (e.g., age, beliefs, ethnicity, sex) by limiting access to social resources (e.g., education, housing, jobs, legal rights, loans, or political power).
Types of Discrimination
- individual discrimination
- institutional discrimination
- racial steering
- American English – /di-skrim-uh-nAY-shuhn/
- British English – /dis-krim-i-nAY-shuhn/
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /dᵻˌskrɪməˈneɪʃən/
- British English – /dᵻˌskrɪmᵻˈneɪʃn/
- Plural: discriminations
- Discrimination occurs at both individual and institutional levels.
- Discrimination is often divided into de facto discrimination and de jure discrimination. De facto (Latin for “concerning fact”) discrimination describes covert social practices, such as avoidance, while de jure (Latin for “concerning law” or “in law”) discrimination describes overt discrimination, such as women not being allowed to vote or minorities not serving on juries.
- Not to be confused with prejudice.
- A (noun) discriminator (verb) discriminates (adverb) discriminatorally in a (adjective) discriminational or (adjective) discriminatory or (adjective) discriminative manner.
- “According to conﬂict theorists, educational level can be a tool for discrimination by using the mechanism of credentialism . . . [t]his device can be used by potential employers to discriminate against minorities, working-class people, or women—that is, those who are often less educated and least likely to be credentialed because discriminatory practices within the education system limited their opportunities for educational achievement” (Andersen and Taylor 2011:348).
- “[D]iscrimination creates a terrible irony: the very discrimination that invalidates the American Dream for many Americans creates conditions that seem to validate it for others, enabling them to embrace it so fervently. By excluding entire categories of people from equal access to opportunity, discrimination has reduced competition and increased the chances to get ahead of others, who often mistakenly conclude that their own success is based exclusively on the own individual ‘merit‘” (McNamee and Miller 2013:18).
- “In addition to prejudices, the dominant group also applies various actions against minority ethnic groups, including avoidance, denial, threat, or physical attack. At different times, all of these forms of coercion may be used, depending on how threatening the minority group is perceived to be. These actions are collectively called discrimination” (Marger 1985:45).
- “Many people use the terms prejudice, discrimination, and racism loosely, as if they were all the same thing. They are not. Typically, in common parlance, people also think of these terms as they apply to individuals, as if the major problems of race were the result of individual people’s bad will or biased ideas, thus ignoring the social structural and institutional aspects of race in America. Sociologists use more refined concepts to understand race and ethnic relations, distinguishing carefully between prejudice, discrimination, and racism” (Andersen and Taylor 2011:241).
- “Prejudiced attitudes should not be equated with discriminatory behavior. Although the two are generally related, they are not identical; either condition can be present without the other” (Schaefer 2013:234).
- “The long history of deliberate discrimination against racial and ethnic groups in America belies the American ideology of individual freedom and equality of opportunity. From the near genocide of Native Americans to the banishment of survivors to reservations, to the importation and enslavement of Africans, to the subsequent Jim Crow legislation that legalized racial segregation and unequal opportunity in the South, to exclusionary acts and discriminatory immigration quotas, to land displacement of Mexican Americans, to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, to current forms of residential, occupational, and educational discrimination against various minorities, the American experience has for many been more of an American Nightmare than an American Dream” (McNamee and Miller 2013:180).
- Word origin of “discrimination” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
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Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “discrimination.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved November 29, 2023 (https://sociologydictionary.org/discrimination/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
discrimination. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/discrimination/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “discrimination.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed November 29, 2023. https://sociologydictionary.org/discrimination/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“discrimination.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 29 Nov. 2023. <https://sociologydictionary.org/discrimination/>.