Prejudices and Forms of Racism
Ideas about the typical features of other nations depend on the forms and variety of contacts with them. In this case, the results of those interactions may be not only biases but also prejudices. The latter are formed based on inflexible stereotypes, which are unfounded negative attitudes towards people (Lustig and Koester 152). Prejudices interfere with communication since their carriers demonstrate open hostility and even aggression towards the object of prejudice, which is defined as discrimination (Lustig and Koester 153). Appearing because of association, imagination or assumption, a psychological approach towards a distorted information component has a persistent influence on people’s attitude to an object. In the process of intercultural communication, one should distinguish between biases or stereotypes and prejudice. Biases contain the possibility of positive judgments as a generalized and collective image of a group or its representative.
As a rule, it happens without clearly expressed emotional assessments. On the other hand, prejudice is characterized by a thoughtless negative attitude towards all or most members of the group. In the practice of human communication, the objects of prejudice are usually people who sharply differ from the majority by some features that are negatively assessed by others. There are many examples of gender prejudice, in other words, sexism. One real-life example is discrimination against women in the context of childcare in the cultures of Eastern European countries. In these societies, mothers are fully responsible for children whereas fathers have the same rights but no duties other than financial ones. At the same time, mothers are also financially responsible for their children along with their fathers. Despite laws establish equal parent rights and obligations, in practice, men cannot avoid financial responsibility but nevertheless ignore the obligations of raising a child. Thus, in such cultures, a child is fully under the care of a mother, who cannot hope for the husband’s assistance in childcaring and raising.
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If a child is by any circumstances an orphan, only his mother is subject to public condemnation, while the father is forgotten. In addition, men in Eastern European countries have a negative attitude towards their own gender representatives. Considering other European cultures, fathers care for children on an equal footing with their mothers, take maternity leave, engage in the upbringing and education of children. In this case, one can talk about ethnocentrism. It is a concept that considers its own ethnic group and culture as a standard, model or tendency of a person to evaluate all life phenomena through the prism of the values of his or her ethnic group. Thus, in cultures of Eastern European countries, it is believed that women are more enduring, while men are simply unable to combine work and household chores, including parenting. Therefore, if a European man appeared in such a culture, he would hardly been entrusted with caring for a child. Finally, the last prejudice in the form of racism will arise if a man of Eastern European nationality, who was born and lived in Europe or America, is not trusted to raise a child. Racism is an ideology that claims to divide people into strictly differentiated groups called races. It highlights the connection between inherited physical and character traits, intellect, morality, culture, as well as the innate superiority of some races over others. Thus, prejudices and biases significantly distort intercultural understanding in various forms, which sometimes leads to fatal consequences.