prejudice

   Legally meaning ‘damage’, prejudice more commonly implies an irrational pre-conceived opinion. The eighteenth-century essayist Joseph Addison’s reference to ‘natural prejudices’ would now be thought odd, as it has been socially outrageous to admit prejudice since the late 1960s. The law forbids bias on grounds of race, gender or marital status (but not age), and some employers voluntarily add sexual orientation and disability. There are contested exceptions for the armed forces. Demands by the disabled for access have been made with increasing vigour. All these issues have been championed by supporters of political correctness who hope to change attitudes by abolishing certain ideas or words, believing that a rose by any other name would smell completely different.
   The effectiveness of this approach is debatable since prejudice is not easy to quantify when most prejudice is secret. Some people bemoan what they call ‘the race relations industry’, resentfully accusing it of giving unfair advantages to minorities. In reality, its influence is also doubtful and new prejudices evolve unexpectedly. In 1997 there were incidents of anti-white Asian violence in west London, where violence between Sikhs and Muslims had been developing for several years. The Nation of Islam movement in New York, which is black, anti-Jewish, anti-white and preaches apartheid for blacks, established itself in London in 1995 but has yet to gain many converts. Prejudices not generally discussed seem to be subject to different criteria to those against groups more usually seen as having grievances. Men are abused by feminists and this is apparently acceptable, but a men’s movement grew up in the early 1990s to fight back. The movement has not been taken very seriously, except inasmuch as there are those who are prepared to weep for their fathers or childhoods. Years of unemployment and rising crime in Liverpool have made Scousers a target. Islamic fundamentalist terrorism and the Salman Rushdie Affair have provoked anti-Islamic prejudice.
   Some prejudices are acceptable. Hostility to the aristocracy, monarchy, big business, or even estate agents is explicable, if possibly unfair. Similarly, the 1988 anti-apartheid song ‘I’ve never met a nice South African’ would have been banned if it attacked almost any other nation. Hippies, trainspotters and collectors of obscure facts known since 1988 as ‘anoraks’ are also targets. Why these largely harmless people attract so much venom, unless it is their cultural isolationism, remains mysterious in the face of supreme viciousness and pomposity on display elsewhere. Society and social relations appear to foster prejudices, even if only against our neighbours.
   Further reading
    Bohm, D. (1996) On Dialogue, London: Routledge (leading physicist and thinker explains how to examine prejudices and assumptions).
   STEPHEN KERENSKY

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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  • Prejudice — prejudice …   Dictionary of sociology

  • préjudice — [ preʒydis ] n. m. • 1265; lat. præjudicium « jugement anticipé », de præjudicare « préjuger » 1 ♦ Perte d un bien, d un avantage par le fait d autrui; acte ou événement nuisible aux intérêts de qqn et le plus souvent contraire au droit, à la… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • prejudice — prej·u·dice 1 / pre jə dəs/ n [Old French, from Latin praejudicium previous judgment, damage, from prae before + judicium judgment] 1: injury or detriment to one s legal rights or claims (as from the action of another): as a: substantial… …   Law dictionary

  • prejudice — Prejudice, in normal usage, means preconceived opinion or bias, against or in favour of, a person or thing. While it is important to remember that biases can be positive as well as negative, nevertheless the term most commonly refers to a… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • préjudice — Préjudice. s. m. Tort, dommage. Notable préjudice. préjudice fort considerable. porter préjudice à quelqu un, luy causer, luy faire un grand préjudice. souffrir un grand préjudice. cela me seroit d un grand préjudice. On dit, Au préjudice de sa… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Prejudice — Préjudice Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Sommaire 1 Droit 2 Cinéma 3 Musique …   Wikipédia en Français

  • prejudice — Prejudice, m. penac. Est avantjugé, un jugement donné qui fait consequence à ce qui reste à juger, Praeiudicium. Voilà pourquoy on en use pour dommage, comme, Cela tourne à mon grand prejudice, Id magno mihi est detrimento. Et, Sans prejudice de… …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • Prejudice — Prej u*dice, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Prejudiced}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Prejudicing}.] [Cf. F. pr[ e]judicier. See {Prejudice}, n.] 1. To cause to have prejudice; to prepossess with opinions formed without due knowledge or examination; to bias the mind… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • prejudice — [prej′ə dis] n. [ME < MFr < L praejudicium < prae , before (see PRE ) + judicium, judgment < judex (gen. judicis), JUDGE] 1. a judgment or opinion formed before the facts are known; preconceived idea, favorable or, more usually,… …   English World dictionary

  • prejudice — in the meaning ‘bias’ or ‘partiality’, is followed by against or in favour of, but not (on the analogy of hostility, objection, etc.) to: a prejudice against eating late, not ☒ a prejudice to eating late. In its meaning ‘irrational dislike’, it… …   Modern English usage

  • prejudice — ► NOUN 1) preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or experience. 2) unjust behaviour formed on such a basis. 3) chiefly Law harm that may result from some action or judgement. ► VERB 1) give rise to prejudice in (someone); make biased.… …   English terms dictionary

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