04 Apr 2018
Words like prejudice and discrimination have become common terms and they are referred often in our daily life, such as media, books, news, casual conversations, and political discussions. Prejudice and discrimination have been in focus since 1960s and these issues have been researched extensively since the last few decades. This surge of interest to understand the impact of prejudice and discrimination in Canadian society has defined the purpose for this report and the report attempts to explore and examine a complete picture of prejudice and discrimination in the contemporary Canadian society. The report is built on sociological, anthropological and psychological perspectives and aims to examine prejudice and discrimination issues that emerge in Canadian social situations because of social interactions (Eriksen, 2010).
The conceptualization of prejudice and discrimination, two forms of social bias have evolved over a period of time and are acknowledged as one of the greatest societal challenges because of their dreadful negative effects on the Canadian society. Presently, there is a universal consensus among all that prejudice and discrimination are one of the serious social issues in Canada and they typically appear together, prejudice is considered as the thought, while discrimination is the action (Dovidio, 2010). According to Driedger and Palmer (2011) prejudice and discrimination is always seen to intersect each other and manifests in many forms. For example, people may have prejudices against some groups and end up engaging in a discriminating manner with them. For instance, social pressures may subject prejudices against women and marginalized population and discriminate them in employment, education, or social services (Chin, 2009). Prejudice is defined as a construction of negative preconceived beliefs, notions, feelings, attitudes, and opinions about a group of people or individuals, that may be felt or expressed, usually because of ethnicity, religion or race (Chin, 2009). On the other hand discrimination is defined as discouraging or negative treatment towards others because of their sex, gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief and age (Dawson, 2013). The discrimination construct not only involves biased treatment , but also unacceptable and inequitable behaviour towards some individuals or some group members, that are excluded from society because of prejudice (Dovidio, 2010).
Ageism and Society
Ageism is considered as one of the most prevalent prejudices in the society and can be defined as the denial of basic human rights to elderly population (Gutman & Spencer, 2010). Sociologists are of the view that people have stereotype prejudice view of older population in the society because of their age, which leads to discrimination. Often aging population experience prejudice in their workplace and typically society holds negative stereotypes for aging population. They commonly presume that old adults are senile, sad, lonely, incompetent, have poor physical or mental health, have conservative thinking, and rigid ideas or opinions. Employment discrimination against old age manifests in different ways, old adults who worked for the company in their younger years are pushed out as they grow older, on the other hand, companies may refrain from hiring old adults, and aging population are unable to get similar employment opportunities as younger population (Gunderson, 2003).
Moreover, younger population have negative stereotype thinking that aging population have massive medical expenses and they are a drain on the Canadian system. (Edwards, 2002). Therefore, these negative stereotypes and discriminations can have detrimental effects on aging population. They feel they are being unreasonably blamed for being a burden on health care systems, the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security. Therefore, these negative impressions of society foster discrimination against aging population (Mei, et all, 2013).
It is time for all of us as individuals to increase our awareness and question our negative stereotype thinking, relook at our assumption about aging and older population. We need to take extra care to reach out to them with an open mind and treat them as valued and important contributors of our Canadian society. Employers too need to value them and make efforts to understand diverse needs of aging population. Moreover, Canadian government has a continued focus on expanding their age inclusive policies that facilitate aging population to have a choice to lead their life to the fullest. Thus, there is a great need for our society as a whole to address the societal issue of ageism. Although, change may not happen overnight, but we all can take the responsibility to collectively build an age-inclusive society.
Social Anthropology Perspective on History of Immigrants
Immigration to Canada led to an increase in population of diverse cultures. Immigrants were from varied economic and ethnic backgrounds. However, this led to rise in disagreements regarding aspects such as economic benefits or employment for immigrants. This report focuses on social anthropological point of view to describe impact of prejudice and discrimination on immigrants on basis of their ethnicity and culture.
Historically, early Canadian immigration policies were largely discriminative Prejudice and discrimination emerged in 17th and 18th centuries in Canada between Aboriginals, and French and European colonizers. Europeans and French viewed those Aboriginals as uncivilized and uncouth. In the 19th century Canada opened its immigration policy and a number of immigrants from other origins were seen. However, Canadians shared prejudices concerning the capabilities of the immigrant groups. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, whites considered themselves superior in front of nonwhite groups and nonwhites faced a great deal of social prejudice (Driedger & Palmer, 2011).
In the late 1800 and early 1900, Asian immigrants faced anti-Asian sentiments in British Columbia. They were considered inferior and were discriminated because of their willingness to work for lower wages than whites. Moreover, discriminatory social practices in British Columbia made Asians refrain from voting, practicing law, or careers with civil service. Numerous attempts were made by anti-Asians to prohibit Asians from studying in public schools (Driedger & Palmer, 2011).
Black Canadians also were subjected to extensive patterns of discrimination in the late 1900 and early 2000s in Nova Scotia and Ontario. They were forced to study in segregated schools, faced discrimination in housing, employment and use of public services. Moreover, on various occasions they were refused to be served in hotels or restaurants. Additionally, whites expressed prejudice toward Black Canadians and saw them as backward, ill-mannered, unaware, dishonest, violent, and law breakers (Driedger & Palmer, 2011).
After the Second World War, in response for human concern, Canada signed the United Nations charter on Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the year 1948 and The Canadian Bill of Rights was adopted in the 1960. This brought in new tolerance policies and helped to weaken the rigid relationships of prejudice and discrimination. The shift resulted in introduction of more unbiased immigration laws and by the 1970s globalization helped in greater inflow of multicultural immigrants (Driedger & Palmer, 2011).
Thus immigration policies and regulations have changed, mostly to eradicate overt discrimination on the basis of immigrants’ race or culture. Today Canadians are proud of being a tolerant society, where people of all different racial, ethnic, and national backgrounds live together harmoniously (Dion, 2002). An Ethnic Diversity Survey conducted in 2003 examined the ethnic and cultural backgrounds of Canadians and concluded that 93 per cent of population had never, or rarely, encountered discrimination or prejudice because of their ethnicity or cultural attributes. Nevertheless, some new immigrants did sometimes feel discriminated in personal, economic, social, or political situations (Driedger & Palmer, 2011).
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Dawson, C. (2013). Prejudice: Reed Business Information Ltd.
Dovidio, J. F. (2010). The Sage handbook of prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination. London: SAGE.
Driedger, L. , & Palmer, H. (2011). Prejudice and Discrimination. The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved on July 12, 2014, from http://www. thecanadianencyclopedia. ca/en/article/prejudice-and-discrimination/
Edwards, A. (2002). It's about time: A new campaign by the ontario human rights commission aims to advance rights for older citizens. Marketing Magazine, 107 (32), 12.
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Gunderson, M. (2003). Age discrimination in employment in canada. Contemporary Economic Policy, 21 (3), 318-328. doi: 10. 1093/cep/byg013
Gutman, G. , & Spencer, C. (2010). Aging, ageism and abuse: Moving from awareness to action. San Diego: Academic Press.
Mei, Z. , Fast, J. , & Eales, J. (2013). Gifts of a Lifetime: The Contributions of Older Canadians. Retrieved on July 13, 2014, from http://www. rapp. ualberta. ca/~/media/rapp/Home/Documents/Gifts_of_a_Lifetime_2013Sep23. pdf
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