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discriminationthe process by which a member, or members, of a socially defined group is, or are, treated differently (especially unfairly) because of his/her/their membership of that group. To be selected for less favourable treatment, a social group may be constructed by reference to such features as race, ethnicity, gender or religion. A distinction can be drawn between ‘categorical’ and 'S tatistical’ discrimination. Categorical discrimination is the unfavourable treatment of all persons socially assigned to a particular social category because the discriminator believes that this discrimination is required by his social group. Statistical discrimination refers to less favourable treatment of individuals based on the belief that there is a probability that their membership of a social group leads to them possessing less desirable characteristics.
In the UK, there are laws that deal with both sex and race discrimination: the Sex Discrimination Act (1975) and the Race Relations Act (1976). In both Acts, ‘direct’ discrimination is made illegal, in that a person may not be treated less favourably than another on the grounds of gender, colour, ethnicity or race. However, the Race Relations Act also attempts to tackle ‘indirect’ discrimination. This was defined as consisting of treatment which may be described as equal in a formal sense, as between different racial groups, but discriminatory in its effect upon a particular racial group. Indirect discrimination is the application of conditions or requirements which may mean that:' (1) the proportion of persons of a racial group who can comply with these is considerably smaller than the proportion of persons not of that racial group who can comply with them; (2) they are to the detriment of the persons who cannot comply with them; (3) they are not justifiable irrespective of the colour, race, nationality or ethnic or national origins of the person to whom they are applied’ (A Guide to the Race Relations Act 1976 Home Office, 1977). See also POSITIVE DISCRIMINATION, RACE RELATIONS, SEGREGATION, GHETTO, PREJUDICE, SEX DISCRIMINATION.
(1) The limitation or deprivation of the rights of certain categories of citizens on the basis of such criteria as race, national origin, and sex. In bourgeois countries racial discrimination is especially widespread—the limitation of rights and persecution of persons for reasons of their racial origin. It is openly practiced in the USA against Indians, Negroes, and Chinese. In the Republic of South Africa the discrimination against East Indians and other non-Boer and non-European populations practiced by the English and Afrikaaners (Boers) has reached large proportions. Widely practiced in capitalist states are such forms of discrimination as lower pay for the labor of women and young people and the limitation of rights on the basis of political and religious convictions.
(2) Discrimination in international relations is the establishment of lesser rights for the representatives, organizations, or citizens of one country than for those of another. The practice of discrimination usually brings about reciprocal measures in the form of retortion on the part of the government against whom it is directed. The USSR and other socialist countries vigorously oppose all forms of discrimination in international relations.