Sociology Index


Inferiorization is the process of imposing a stigmatized or inferiorized identity on a group of people. The people stigmatized tend to adopt a sense of inferiority that leads to a sapping of confidence and ability, inhibits political organization and results in a host of personal and collective social problems.

The inferiorization concept can be linked to the theory of culture of poverty. Inferiorization of the immigrants is the transformation of immigrants from strangers to social enemies through panic and social exclusion.

Inferiorization and Self-Esteem" - Adam, Barry D., Social Psychology, 41, 1, 47-53. - Abstract: In this century, the concept of the self-esteem of subordinated groups was transformed from its original orientation toward coping strategies to inferiorization; to a psychological construct of the personalities of subordinated people; and to a rejection of any view which could move into the perspective of blaming the victim.

The Survival of Domination: Inferiorization and Everyday Life - Barry D. Adam. Contemporary Sociology, Vol. 8, No. 3 (May, 1979), p. 465

There is continuity between the operation of the labour markets thanks to the inferiorization of exogenous work and the constitution of minorities on the civic and political level. The rule of passage from the one to the other is as follows: the stronger the institutional and legal inferiorization will have been in the first operational mode, the more probabilities that there will be a blossoming of systems.

How should one understand this gradation in the legal inferiorization? It will be said for example that the system of slavery that ended by molding the structure of the family according to the right of ownership of children is more inferiorizing than the European system of migrations of permanent labor.

Afrikan genetic potential is destroyed and profoundly influences the whole life experience of every Afrikan person when the introduction of the inferiorization process is present. Inferiorization is the conscious, deliberate and systematic process utilized specifically by a
racist (white supremacy) social system, is conducted through all of its major and minor institutions (including the institution of marriage/family, education, government, shelter, food, clothing, health care etc.) which molds Afrikan people within that system (namely, all of us classified by the racist system) into "functional inferiors," in spite of our true genetic potential of functioning. Simply put, inferiorization is the brainwashing process that We as Afrikans in the Diaspora use as our learned behavior and thinking process. This brainwashing in ingrained in the very fabric of every life sustaining institution that effects the Afrikan person's life that the Afrikan person does NOT control.
With inferiorization defined, what is the genetic potential that is destroyed by this process? How do the various institutions of the infrastructure contribute to this destruction? Who benefits from such a deliberate and systematic attack? How is this benefit manifested? - Mama Khandi.

This methodical disenfranchisement is a basis for violence in the Black community. This foundation of aggression, referred to as the Inferiorization Process, is described by William Oliver as the systematic stress attack involving the entire complex of political, legal, educational, economic, religious, military, and mass media institutions controlled by Whites; designed to produce dysfunctional patterns of behavior among Blacks in all areas of life. Through the inferiorization process, Blacks are socialized to be incapable of solving or helping to produce solutions to problems posed by the environment. However, for Whites, the inferiorization process is designed to facilitate their development as functional superiors. Thus, under the system of White supremacy, Whites are conditioned to solve or help to provide solutions to problems posed by the environment…As a result of their exposure…a substantial number of Black males have opted to re-define manhood in terms of toughness, sexual conquest, and thrill seeking.” [William Oliver, Black Males and Social Problems: Prevention Through Afrocentric Socialization, Journal of Black Studies.

Cosmetic Surgery in a Different Voice: The Case of Madame No�l - by Kathy Davis 
Abstract: Cosmetic surgery emerged at the end of the 19th century in the U.S. and Europe. Like most branches of surgery, it is a 'masculine' medical specialty, both numerically and in terms of professional 'ethos'. Given the role cosmetic surgery - and, more generally, the feminine beauty system - play in the disciplining and inferiorization of women's bodies, a feminist cosmetic surgeon would seem to be a contradiction in terms. It is hard to imagine how cosmetic surgery might be practiced in a way which is not, by definition, disempowering or demeaning to women. In this paper, I explore the unlikely combination of feminist cosmetic surgeon, using one of the pioneers of cosmetic surgery, Dr.Suzanne No�l, as an example. She was the first and most famous woman to practice cosmetic surgery, working in France at the beginning of this century. She was also an active feminist. Based on an analysis of the handbook she wrote in 1926, La Chirurgie Esth�tique, Son R�le Social in which she describes her views about her profession, her techniques and procedures, and the results of her operations, I tackle the question of whether No�l's approach might be regarded as a 'feminine' or even feminist way of doing cosmetic surgery - in short, an instance of surgery in 'a different voice'.

Gale Miller, Marquette University
Abstract: This article is an analysis of aspects of everyday life in a Work Incentive Program (WIN). It is intended to apply and extend Adam's (1978) political phenomenology of domination by analyzing inferiorization as a feature of contemporary human service work. The analysis focuses on dramaturgical instruction of unemployed welfare recipients as a process of inferiorization through which clients are cast as disadvantaged in their dealings with area employers. Clients were taught to strategically manipulate impressions of self in order to positively impress area employers and get jobs. The analysis addresses five primary questions: (1) How is the dramaturgical perspective organized as an ideology of inferiorization in WIN and other human service organizations; (2) What was the context within which dramaturgical instruction was defined by the WIN staff as a legitimate response to their clients' problems; (3) What were the assumptions and claims associated with the staff's dramaturgical framing of unemployment; (4) How was the dramaturgical frame used by the staff to identify concrete rules for proper job-seeking: and (5) How did the staff legitimate the perspective and rules associated with it in their interactions with clients?

"‘Sexism’, as a term, has gained increasing currency, as ‘male chauvinism’ (as a term) has somewhat declined. The concept is a clear analogy with ‘racism’ and indicates the inferiorization (attitudinal and actual) of one sex by the other." - Juliet Mitchell

Black immigrants in Portugal: Luso-tropicalism and prejudice, Jorge Vala & Diniz Lopes
Department of Social and Organizational Psychology,
Instituto Superior de Ci�ncias do Trabalho e da Empresa (ISCTE), Lisboa
Extract: Democratic societies abandoned the explanations based on racial differences and replaced them by cultural differences, that is, racial inferiorization was substituted by cultural inferiorization. However, we put forward the hypothesis that nowadays it is not only no longer socially acceptable the idea of racial inferiorization but also the idea of cultural inferiorization. Many authors maintain that general prejudice (explicit cultural inferiorization and explicit racial inferiorization) is independent of the perception of cultural differences.