discrimination, discrimination and hate, equality

Discrimination (1)

I’ve written before on discrimination, especially gender discrimination (also here) and discrimination based on sexual orientation. This post tackles the subject more generally.

Definition of discrimination

Discrimination, in its non-political and non-legal sense, simply means the recognition of differences. In the political and legal sense, it means unjustifiable differences in treatment between groups of people, most often the unjustifiable denial of the equal enjoyment of human rights.

Types of discrimination

Groups of people are discriminated because they have certain group-specific attributes that set them apart from the rest of society and that warrant, in the eyes of the people who are discriminating, less favorable treatment. One can make the following distinctions:

  • Discrimination can come in different degrees, affecting large or small numbers of people to a large or small extent: from government policy to an unspoken mentality of a small part of the population, and everything in between (such as states not acting to counter discrimination, very active and outspoken discrimination in some parts of the community, entrenched cultural practices such as the caste system etc.).
  • It can be exercised in different ways. People may be discriminated on the grounds of their race, gender etc. They can be discriminated in relatively harmless ways (denial of a promotion because of a likely pregnancy for example) or very brutal ways (slavery, denying of equal education etc.). They can also be discriminated in many different fields of life: education, employment, justice, health care etc.

Some people have the misfortune of finding themselves in a state which has an overt and active policy of discrimination, and in different discriminated groups at the same time (black lesbians in Apartheid South-Africa for example). As a result, they may also be discriminated in different fields of life at the same time (employment, family law, education etc.).

There are many types of discrimination, and the concept of discrimination is often linked to others such as racism, agism, sexism, xenophobia, intolerance, religious fundamentalism, genocide, ethnic cleansing etc. Whereas all these phenomena undoubtedly have a dose of discrimination, they are not the necessary result of discrimination. Discrimination can be much more limited.

One can distinguish between types of discrimination according to the groups that are discriminated, and the ways in which these groups are discriminated.

Groups:

  • racial discrimination
  • gender discrimination
  • discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation
  • discrimination based on one’s language, culture or national origin
  • discrimination based on one’s religion or one’s status within a religion
  • discrimination based on one’s political convictions
  • age discrimination
  • health discrimination (e.g. discrimination of HIV patients, disabled persons or obese persons)
  • etc. (when it comes to cruelty, man’s imagination has no limits I’m afraid)

Ways:

  • economic discrimination (e.g. persistent differences in poverty levels between groups)
  • employment discrimination (e.g. discrimination in career opportunities, pay, “Berufsverbot” etc.)
  • housing discrimination
  • family law discrimination (e.g. the inability of homosexuals to marry or to adopt)
  • education discrimination, different levels or quality of education for different groups
  • discrimination of the access to public service or elected positions
  • judicial discrimination, discrimination in the justice system
  • health discrimination, different levels or quality of healthcare for different groups
  • cultural practices such as honor killings, female genital mutilation,…
  • legal discrimination such as Jim Crow or segregation
  • etc.

Causes of discrimination

Article 2 of the Universal Declaration prohibits discrimination:

“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Some data

The following graph shows that discrimination is a that also exists in countries with well-developed legal protection mechanisms. The graph gives information on perceived discrimination in minority groups in the Netherlands (click on the picture to enlarge):

perceived discrimination netherlands

(source)

(Perceived discrimination is not the same as real discrimination: people can believe they are being discriminated against without there being any actual discrimination, while actual discrimination may not be perceived as such).

The following graph show the perception of the worsening plight of African Americans in the U.S.:

are blacks better off

(source)

However, when asked for the reasons, most consider discrimination not to be the most important one:

discrimination african americans

Discrimination and poverty

Although poverty has many causes, discrimination is undoubtedly one of them. Large differences in wealth between groups (for example racial groups) may indicate the existence of discrimination. Here are some data on the situation in the US:

poverty and race in the us

poverty and race in the us

(source)

Discrimination and justice

Statistics on the differences between races in incarceration or execution rates may indicate the existence of discrimination in the justice system, although these differences may have other causes besides discrimination, e.g. differences in poverty rates (see above), differences in levels of education etc. Of course, the latter differences may be caused by discrimination so that discrimination is indirectly the cause of the differences in the application of justice. Here again are some data on the situation in the US, showing that blacks, although they make up only 12% of the population, account for more than 1 in 3 of the prison population and of the executions. 5% of black men are in jail, compared to less than 1% of white men.

justice and race in the us

justice and race in the us

Blacks are also about twice as likely as whites to be a victim of a crime.

Here’s a post on affirmative action or positive discrimination, a common tool to counteract discrimination.

Standard

35 thoughts on “Discrimination (1)

  1. Pingback: Human Rights Facts (39): Women’s Rights & Gender Discrimination, Continued « P.A.P. Blog - politics, art and philosophy

  2. Pingback: Human Rights Facts (13): Gay Rights « P.A.P. Blog - politics, art and philosophy

  3. Pingback: Human Rights Facts (10): Women’s Rights & Gender Discrimination « P.A.P. Blog - politics, art and philosophy

  4. Pingback: Human Rights Quote (38): Gender Discrimination « P.A.P. Blog - politics, art and philosophy

  5. Pingback: Human Rights Cartoon (14): Gender Discrimination « P.A.P. Blog - politics, art and philosophy

  6. Pingback: Human Rights Cartoon (94): Types of Equality « P.A.P. Blog - politics, art and philosophy

  7. Pingback: Poverty, Summary of Causes and Solutions « P.A.P. Blog - politics, art and philosophy

  8. Pingback: Human Rights Facts (54): The Indian Caste System « P.A.P. Blog - Politics, Art and Philosophy

  9. Pingback: Human Rights Cartoon (75): Jim Crow « P.A.P. Blog - Politics, Art and Philosophy

  10. Pingback: Human Rights Cartoon (100): Collective Rights « P.A.P. Blog - Politics, Art and Philosophy

  11. Pingback: What is Democracy (28)? A Civic Responsibility « P.A.P. Blog - Politics, Art and Philosophy

  12. Pingback: Human Rights Facts (80): Competition v Racial Bias « P.A.P. Blog - Politics, Art and Philosophy

  13. Pingback: The Compatibility of Freedom and Equality (5): Free Will « P.A.P. Blog - Politics, Art and Philosophy

  14. Pingback: Human Rights Quote (85): Prejudice and Allport’s Scale « P.A.P. Blog - Politics, Art and Philosophy

  15. Pingback: Human Rights Cartoon (121): India’s Caste System « P.A.P. Blog - Politics, Art and Philosophy

  16. Pingback: Limiting Free Speech (24): Political Correctness « P.A.P. Blog - Politics, Art and Philosophy

  17. Pingback: Limiting Free Speech (25): Does Freedom of Religion Require Limits on Freedom of Speech? « P.A.P. Blog - Politics, Art and Philosophy

  18. Pingback: Human Rights vs. Humanitarianism? « P.A.P. Blog – Politics, Art and Philosophy

  19. Pingback: The Compatibility of Freedom and Equality (6): Freedom and Economic Rights « P.A.P. Blog – Politics, Art and Philosophy

  20. Pingback: Discrimination, A Collection of Signs and Notices « P.A.P. Blog – Politics, Art and Philosophy

  21. Pingback: Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty, How Much Can We Discriminate? « P.A.P. Blog – Politics, Art and Philosophy

  22. Pingback: What is Democracy? (32): Equal Representation and the Share of Women in Parliament « P.A.P. Blog – Human Rights Etc.

  23. Pingback: Political T-Shirt (10): I Hate Everybody « P.A.P. Blog – Human Rights Etc.

  24. Pingback: Human Rights Facts (171): Race and Employment « P.A.P. Blog – Human Rights Etc.

  25. Pingback: Human Rights Cartoon (114): Absolute and Relative Poverty « P.A.P. Blog – Human Rights Etc.

  26. Pingback: Political Jokes & Funny Quotes (73): Discrimination « P.A.P. Blog – Human Rights Etc.

  27. Pingback: Human Rights Facts (53): Good Governance « P.A.P. Blog – Human Rights Etc.

  28. Pingback: Human Rights Poem (75): I, Too, Sing America « P.A.P. Blog – Human Rights Etc.

  29. Pingback: Discrimination, A Collection of Images « P.A.P. Blog – Human Rights Etc.

  30. Pingback: Iconic Images of Human Rights Violations (43): Black Power Salute at the Olympics « P.A.P. Blog – Human Rights Etc.

  31. Pingback: Measuring Equality of Opportunity « P.A.P. Blog – Human Rights Etc.

  32. Pingback: Is Human Rights Talk Mere Signaling? « P.A.P. Blog – Human Rights Etc.

  33. Pingback: Human Rights Maps (80): Percentage of Women in State Legislatures in the U.S. | P.a.p.-Blog, Human Rights Etc.

  34. Pingback: Discrimination (12): Is Price Discrimination Immoral? | P.a.p.-Blog, Human Rights Etc.

  35. Hi Filip Spagnoli,I am very thankful to you for your this post.You have mentioned in your post all about discrimination,like Definition of discrimination,Types of discrimination,Causes of discrimination and Discrimination and justice.After reading your post any low educated person can understood what you want to explain?This type of post is the requirement in such countries where this system is still going on.India is suffering most discrimination tradition even now in whole world.When the Indians will read these type of posts,they will understand the loss of discrimination in the country,and gradually it can change the trends and tradition of country.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s