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Difference between Prejudice and Discrimination

It is generally seen that prejudice and discrimination are common throughout the world. It can be seen in most places in different forms and styles.

For example the elderly discriminate against the young; the young discriminate against the elderly. Men discriminate against women. Prejudice and discrimination are related to each other. Most of the times one leads to the other.

Discrimination is an action which is an unfair treatment directed against someone. It can be based on many characteristics: age, sex, height, weight, skin color, clothing, speech, income, education, marital status, sexual orientation, disease, disability, religion and politics. When the basis of discrimination is someone's perception of race, it is known as racism. Discrimination is often the result of an attitude called prejudice a prejudging of some sort, usually in a negative way. There is also positive prejudice, which exaggerates the virtues of a group, as when people think that some group (usually their own) is more capable than others.

Most prejudice, however, is negative and involves prejudging a group as inferior. Sociologists believe that we are not born with prejudice. Rather we learn prejudice from the people around us. Prejudice does not depend on negative experiences with others. It also reveals that people who are prejudiced against one racial or ethnic group also tend to be prejudiced against other groups. People can be and are prejudiced against people they have never met and even against groups that do not exist or existed in past.

In Europe, the neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan base their existence on prejudice. These groups believe that race is real that white is best and that society's surface conceals underlying conspiracies. People can even learn to be prejudiced against their own group.

Sociologists stress that we should move beyond thinking in terms of individual discrimination the negative treatment of one person by another. Although such behavior creates problems, it is primarily an issue between individuals. With their focus on the broader picture, sociologists encourage us see institutional discrimination that is how discrimination is woven into the fabric of society.