Sociology Index

DISCRIMINATION

Discrimination is the unequal treatment of a person or group on the basis of their personal characteristics. Discrimination is making a discrimination, or distinction based on the group, class, or category to which a person is perceived to belong. Discrimination may be based caste, colour, height, disability, ethnicity, family status, gender identity, genetic characteristics, marital status, nationality, religion, race, sex, and sexual orientation. Discrimination can be behavior promoting a person or group or against a against a person or group.

Discrimination usually refers to negative treatment, but discrimination in favour of particular groups can also occur. Setting a condition or requirement without reasonable justification leads to discrimination. Racial discrimination, like in South Africa in the apartheid era, on the basis of real and perceived racial differences has been official government policy in several countries. In a work published in 1957, economist Gary Becker argued that, over the long run, product market competition would drive discrimination out of the marketplace. Employers with a taste for discrimination against women will employ less than the profit-maximizing number of women. Differences in human capital, and job networking are playing a role, but they do little to explain gate-keeping and other forms of potentially discriminatory behavior at the workplace level, in particular what drives discrimination.

Competitive Threat and Workplace Discrimination - Garcia, Lisette.
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. - Abstract: We still know a limited amount regarding causal processes and the mechanisms by which stratification is reinforced in our society. 
Sociological theories suggest that perhaps the relative concentration of the minority group influences feelings of competition and threat, thereby leading to discriminatory behavior on the part of those trying to protect their position in society. Results indicate that feelings of competition and threat across space due to concentrations of minority populations have consequences for the ways in which discrimination is enacted and by which stratification is maintained in American society.

Investigating the link between competition and discrimination - Sandra E. Black.
How competition affects the ability of companies to favor particular groups is a longstanding issue in the economics literature. Instead, they will hire a greater number of equally skilled but more highly paid men. Becker goes on to say that where markets are not perfectly competitive, that is, markets in which companies face little product market competition, discriminating employers can exist in the market indefinitely. Given the lack of transparency surrounding the practice of discrimination, it has been difficult to test Becker's theory.

Perceived Discrimination and Depression: Moderating Effects of Coping, Acculturation, and Ethnic Support - Samuel Noh, PhD and Violet Kaspar, PhD - Am J Public Health. 2003 February; 93(2): 232–238. The authors evaluated the effects of cultural norms and social contexts on coping processes involved in dealing with perceived racial discrimination.