Minority Group Relations

Minority Group refers to a recognizable group which is the subject of prejudice and or discrimination. Minority groups are commonly made up of a racial, religious or ethnic population. The term does not refer to the numerical size of the group.

Characteristics of Minority Groups

1. Minority groups are treated differently than the dominant group.

2. Minority groups are visible. For the minority group to maintain its existence it must have high visibility.

3. Minority groups are highly conscious of their own group existence.

4. Minority group membership is an ascribed status characteristics.

The Sociology of Race

In 1944 a Swedish sociologist Gunnar Myrdal (1944)published his classical work An American Dilemma in which he describes the dilemma which exists between the American values of freedom and equality on one hand and discrimination and racial prejudice on the other hand.

Racism and the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Robert K. Merton (1968) describes the self-fulfilling prophercy occurs, if one group is considered superior and another is considered inferior, and people begin to behave as if superiority and inferiority is innate and does exist, after a while the superior group will in fact display superior characteristics and the inferior group will begin to display inferior characteristics.

Group Relations Concepts:

Invasion refers to the situation which occurs when members of a different or new group enters into a social or physical environment from which they were previously absent.

Competition refers to the process which develops when members of the new group begin to struggle with the established group for scarce articles.

Conflict occurs when one group seeks to institute techniques to establish and perpetuate a position of superiority.

Accommodation refers to the process which occurs when two or more groups are able arrive at mutually agree able settlements relating to specific issues in contentionwill be developed between them.

Assimilation refers to the process through which the identities of seperate groups merge into a single group.


Stereotype refers to a belief which is directed towards a praticular category frequently members of a particular ethnic or racial group, which is based on a mental image defining certain characteristics supposedly possessed by all of the individuals in the group towards which the stereotype is directed.

Segregation is a process by which one or more groups are isolated from another group.

Annihilation is a situation where one group attempts to wipe out the other group.

Partition is a process which occurs when a dominant group physically isolates the subordinate group.

Paternalism is a social system which operates by the dominant racial or ethnic group using the minority group to achieve its ends under the supposition that the minority group requires the guidance and help of the superior dominant group.

Pluralism is a social system in which different ethnic and racial groups exist side by side and maintain seperate cultures without developing positions of subordination.

Prejudice an attitude, either favorable or unfavorable, about a group or category of individuals which assumes that all of the members of the group towards whom the prejudice is directed possess a certain characteristic(s).

Discrimination is the unequal and usually unfavorable treatment of individuals of one group by individuals of another group.

Some Web sites to visit:

Anti-Defamation League

Aryon Nations

Birmingham, AL USA: Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Ethnic Minorities and Race Research Group

Ethnicity, Racism and the Media

National Civil Rights Museum

Race and Ethnic Studies Institute

U.S. Civil Rights Law and Discrimination

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