Clements & Spinks argue that prejudice is sometimes a way of people avoiding feeling ‘vulnerable’ and they pose the question: ‘why should the fact that someone is different from us lead to a negative prejudgement of who and what they are?’
If you think about reactions to ‘immigrants,’ for example, people often voice fears around a ‘threat to our way of life’.
Sexist arguments like ‘women shouldn’t take men’s jobs….’ often express a fear around unemployment.
We may feel vulnerable if people threaten our view of ‘the way things are’ or ‘the natural order’ of things!
Gay men and lesbians threaten the view of right and wrong held by very many people, disabled people may be treated as if they are intruding on the world of non-disabled people and may threaten our views of ‘normality’.
There are many powerful narratives that seek to blame and therefore exclude others, many perpetuated by scaremongering media headlines! This process quite often leads to deep divisions within communities and feelings of mistrust, anger and even hatred. If you are seeking to address and counter some of these views it’s useful to know a bit more about where they come from and why people might feel the need to express them.
What are the implications for your community engagement practice?
What could/should you be doing about this?