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Sincethe beginning of the human civilization, social structures arecharacterized by certain aspects that determine individual or group’srelationship with the other. In most civilizations, such aspects arerace, discrimination, prejudice, gender, and sexuality. Moreover,they are used as tools for domination against those consideredinferior regarding a particular matter. However, therise of Women’s movement (1848) and civil rights campaigns(1950-1960) have significantly pushed social structures towardsequality, restoration of human dignity and social development.
Race,Discrimination, and Prejudice
Race,as the base of racism, refers to individual’s identity or belongingto a particular group of blacks, whites or red. Racism refers tobehaviors motivated by perception or belief that the culture orcapabilities of certain people are influenced by distinctive traitsthey possess (Kornblum, Joseph, and Carolyn 230). Prejudice refers tothe rigid attitude or emotions against people of a particular group.However, not all emotions or attitudes can be termed as prejudice butonly those with undermining consequences. In most situations,prejudice is an evidence of prejudgment. Finally, discrimination isdifferential treatment against a group of people due to theiridentity or relationship with a particular group (Kornblum, Joseph,and Carolyn 231).
Accordingto Kornblum, Joseph, and Carolyn (232-233), there are many sources ofracism, prejudice, and discrimination. However, the major one is thecultural factor that usually influences norms and stereotyping of agroup, frustration or aggression and projection (Kornblum, Joseph,and Carolyn 230-232). Projection occurs when the superior groupattributes a certain undesirable features or behaviors to theinferior group while aggression occurs due to frustrations and as aresponse to any attempt by the minority group to achieve power oradvantages against the dominants` will.
Asresults, most people especially the blacks in American history havefaced mistreatment, denial of basic utilities such as education andhealth care, and endured poverty. Also, Kornblum, Joseph, and Carolyn(249) explain that racism, prejudice, and discrimination causes fearand distrust of race against the other. Evidently, both the blacksand whites in America feared each other before the achievements ofcivil rights movements. At a global level, these factors haveresulted in most feared events and crises such as the collapse ofcommunism, cold war and rise of Western anti-terror groups (249).However, in the recent times, social policies focusing on jobtraining, affirmative actions and education for all have promotedequality among people of different races, opinions and economicstatus.
Insocial structures, the individual’s gender and sexuality alsodetermined his position and power in the community. Gender refers toindividual’s aspect of maleness or femaleness while sexualityrelates to the sense of attractiveness or comfort with the one’sbody and sexual feelings. Although different, they form bases ofsocial behaviors and expectations including roles andresponsibilities.
Genderand sexuality bring forth the concept of sexism, reefing to thebeliefs, attitudes, behaviors and even policies that are againstwomen or men. Homosexuality that has caused widespread homophobiaalso is an aspect of sexism (Kornblum, Joseph, and Carolyn 281).According to Kornblum, Joseph, and Carolyn (281), sexism is caused bycultural settings, power and stereotyping and it results ininequality in education and sexual harassment. Moreover, causesunemployment of women and unequal pay to the employed lot.
However,with the emergence of Women’s movement in 1848 led by LucretiusMott and Elizabeth Cady greatly influenced societies to achievegender equality. Evidently, there are developmental changes in policyimplementation in both legal and education systems that haveempowered women and enhanced gender equality. More importantly, theparenthood practices have also evolved towards gender equality.
Inbrief, social development in many American societies is determined bythe structures the religion, legal system and cultural values havebuilt. Historically, these structures have demonstrated mistreatmentof the minority by the dominating group especially in sharing ofresources. However, with proper development in education, law andfamily settings, people have achieved the perceived benefitsregardless of race, gender or opinions.
Kornblum,William, Joseph Julian, and Carolyn D. Smith. Social Problems.Harlow: PearsonEducation,2011. Print