Essay Preview: Institutionalized Bias
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Institutionalized bias refers to the attitudes expressed by the majority of people living in a society whose norms include stereotypes and discrimination. The institutionalized biases are attitudes against specific groups of people which are carried out through public laws and practices; these biases are designed to discriminate against and perpetuate stereotypes in order to harm the subjected group. This paper examines the differences between personal bias and institutional bias. Discussion of the role attitudes, stereotypes, and prejudice play in the development of institutional bias and discrimination will be completed. Further, it will be argued that changes in a cultural or political climate would impact institutionalized discrimination. Institutionalized bias perpetuates discrimination against different groups of people (based on race, age, nationality, and gender); therefore, it is imperative to make changes in cultural stereotypes for the cessation of discrimination against targeted groups of people and provide equal access to the available resources and services.
Personal bias refers to an individuals disposition in his or her perception of the world. Individuals possess different biases, or prejudices, against others for various reasons such as race, age, nationality, and gender (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2010). Institutionalized bias is a term that refers to the inequitable and unjust treatment of an individual through unfair procedures or objectives of large organizations such as governments, businesses, and financial or public institutions. Institutionalized bias generates attitudes against different groups of people based on various reasons (Esses, Semenya, & Stelzl, 2004). This bias often results in discrimination in law-making and political decisions that reflect prejudice, often found in capitalistic societies (Mansfield & Kehoe, 1994). Successful capitalistic societies function by maintaining social stratification which provides corporations with cheap, manual laborers. Moreover, capitalism benefits by promoting and sustaining material incongruity and racial opposition between whites and people of color; in this way, capitalism utilizes institutional bias against non-white working class individuals which results in the perpetuation and tolerability of racial discrimination (Elliott & Fleras, 1992).
Individuals form attitudes based on three different components: cognitive, affective, and behavioral. The cognitive component shapes a persons thoughts and beliefs and allows for quick processing and classification of others. The affective component influences emotional reactions and personal values. Finally, the behavioral component concerns an individuals behavior (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2010; Polk, 2012). All three components of attitude help determine the stereotypes and prejudices an individual internalizes and communicates through their thoughts, feelings, and actions (Polk, 2012). Stereotypes distort perceptions, affect social judgments, and affect internalized information; therefore, once stereotypes are activated, the associated attributions are quickly processed and applied toward the individual (Aronson, Wilson, & Akert, 2010; Polk, 2012). Once negative attitudes, stereotypes, and prejudices have been developed against certain groups of people in a society, institutionalized bias exploits the negative stereotypes and prejudices through overt and subtle discrimination against those groups.
An example of this is institutional sexism which has resulted in the underrepresentation of women in senior and prestigious positions in public and private institutions and organizations (Riley, Frith, Archer, & Veseley, 2006). In the field of education, a much higher percentage of teachers are women; however, promotion and advancement is generally rewarded to men, which results in a higher percentage of men represented in educational administration positions (Riley, Frith, Archer, & Veseley, 2006).
The Symbolic Racism Theory suggests threats to core values related to a perceived Protestant work ethic may be the reason for discrimination and prejudice toward African Americans in the workforce. Institutional racism is a product of capitalistic thinking processes as there is a need to maintain a cheap labor force of working class citizens to lower operating costs for large corporations to prosper and support the growth and accumulating wealth of the upper class (Mansfield & Kehoe, 1994). Certainly, capitalism also perpetuates