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Thanks for the comment. I completely agree that there are other ways in which prejudice can develop and manifest itself. Research has shown that there is an inbuilt mechanism by which we are automatically more comfortable with people like us and less comfortable with people not like us.  I think that is why ignorance and lack of experience/contact with others is such a large part of how prejudice develops and is expressed.

I was impressed with the use of Allport's work because it was such an effective tool for quite quickly getting people to see the damaging effects of what they mostly all considered to be entirely reasonable office banter.

We did also discuss prejudice and how prejudices and biases can form.  The trainer again referred to Allport's work in terms of the different stages at which you are influenced by a range of external inputs such as family, education and peers. I felt that this was part of it but by no means all.

It didn't explain how some people (such as myself) who grew up with family who held and frequently expressed strong prejudices such as racism and homophobia, somehow didn't absorb this. I've also never been strongly influenced by my peers but this could well be because I was always one of those on the outside of the group.

It also begged the question of those people who are entirely aware that they hold prejudices but think they are justified to do so because it is based on 'facts' such as all black males are thugs and gang members, all gay men are paedophiles and so on.  Maybe this comes back to ignorance again but there are plenty of people who have absolutely no intention of trying to remove the biases they hold and are happy to deliberately discriminate against others.  The BNP and other far right political parties are examples of this.

So, I find all of this extremely topical right now with the threat of the far right continuing to rise.  It's hard enough to tackle discrimination within a small office of less than 15 people, but expand this to entire countries and governments... It's a tough one to tackle.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 10th, 2007 at 03:55:41 AM EST
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