Culture of Prejudice: Arguments in Critical Social Science

By Judith C. Blackwell, Murray E.G. Smith, and John S. Sorenson

© 2003

Contesting the putative "even-handedness" of many introductory social science texts, this innovative book presents strong and provocative arguments on contemporary social issues that will stimulate readers to think critically. The principal theme of the book is that social science is at its best, and most exciting, when it confronts and refutes "cultures of prejudice"—intricate systems of beliefs and attitudes that sustain many forms of social oppression and that are, themselves, sustained by ignorance and fear of the unknown and the unfamiliar. Such a critical social science, it is argued, can make an important contribution to promoting human freedom and extending human capacities.

Discussions range from the personal to the political, the national to the global, encompassing social policy analysis (law, health, and welfare), the status of women, and animal liberation, as well as nationalism, racism, political ideology, the global economy, and terrorism. This passionately argued book is an excellent supplementary text for undergraduate social science students, as well as a stimulating read for all those open to hard-hitting confrontations with conventional wisdom. Beginning each chapter with an aphorism, anecdote, or quotation that reflects, illustrates, or challenges particular prejudices, the authors offer concise critical discussions of the issues, informed by some of the best research and thought in the social scientific literature.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 368 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.8in x 9.0in
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  • PUBLISHED SEP 2008

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Quick Overview

The principal theme of the book is that social science is at its best, and most exciting, when it confronts and refutes "cultures of prejudice"—intricate systems of beliefs and attitudes that sustain many forms of social oppression and that are, themselves, sustained by ignorance and fear of the unknown and the unfamiliar.

Culture of Prejudice: Arguments in Critical Social Science

By Judith C. Blackwell, Murray E.G. Smith, and John S. Sorenson

© 2003

Contesting the putative "even-handedness" of many introductory social science texts, this innovative book presents strong and provocative arguments on contemporary social issues that will stimulate readers to think critically. The principal theme of the book is that social science is at its best, and most exciting, when it confronts and refutes "cultures of prejudice"—intricate systems of beliefs and attitudes that sustain many forms of social oppression and that are, themselves, sustained by ignorance and fear of the unknown and the unfamiliar. Such a critical social science, it is argued, can make an important contribution to promoting human freedom and extending human capacities.

Discussions range from the personal to the political, the national to the global, encompassing social policy analysis (law, health, and welfare), the status of women, and animal liberation, as well as nationalism, racism, political ideology, the global economy, and terrorism. This passionately argued book is an excellent supplementary text for undergraduate social science students, as well as a stimulating read for all those open to hard-hitting confrontations with conventional wisdom. Beginning each chapter with an aphorism, anecdote, or quotation that reflects, illustrates, or challenges particular prejudices, the authors offer concise critical discussions of the issues, informed by some of the best research and thought in the social scientific literature.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 368 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.8in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    Prejudice is playing its part in bringing humanity to the abyss. Culture of Prejudice does the important and necessary job of helping to bring us back to our potential senses. Judith Blackwell, Murray Smith, and John Sorenson provide an enlightening dissection of how ideas of prejudice are sustained and promoted. Their arguments against prejudice, drawing on the best traditions of critical social science, speak to the possibilities of human emancipation.


    Bryan D. Palmer, Canada Research Chair, Trent University
  • Author Information

    Judith C. Blackwell is a faculty member in the Department of Sociology at Brock University. She is the co-editor of Illicit Drugs in Canada: A Risky Business (Nelson). She has also served as an advisor on drug laws and drug policy in Canada and England.



    Murray E.G. Smith is a faculty member in the Department of Sociology at Brock University. He is the author of Invisible Leviathan: The Marxist Critique of Market Despotism beyond Postmodernism (University of Toronto Press).



    John S. Sorenson is Associate Professor of Sociology at Brock University. He is the author of Ghosts and Shadows: Construction of Identity and Community in an African Diaspora (University of Toronto Press); Imagining Ethiopia: Struggles for History and Identity in the Horn of Africa (Rutgers); and editor of Disaster and Development in the Horn of Africa (Macmillan).

  • Table of contents

    Acknowledgments

    Part One: Introduction to the Book and its Authors

    Suggested Readings

    Part Two: Nationalism, Racism, Fundamentalism, and Terrorism

    1. "My country, right or wrong"
    Notorious motto of nationalistic jingoism
    2. "Everybody is a racist; it’s part of human nature"
    Fatalistic belief condoning the perpetuation of racial oppression

    3. "I’m not a racist, and nobody I know is either"
    A worthy statement which invites discussion of "colour-blindness"

    4. "Immigrants are threatening our way of life"
    Centuries-old fear expressed about every new wave of immigration, even by members of the last wave of immigration

    5. "God is on our side"
    Common belief, usually held by "both" sides in armed conflict

    6. "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists"
    A mind-numbingly ridiculous Hobson's choice offered up by US President G.W. Bush, September 20, 2001
    Suggested Readings

    Part Three: Colonialism and Globalization

    7. "Third World poverty is the result of traditional values"
    First World conceits about "backward" societies

    8. "The USA promotes freedom throughout the world"
    America as saviour of the global community

    9. "Free markets pave the way for social development"
    The World Trade Organization as benign force for social good

    Suggested Readings

    Part Four: Poverty and Social Dispossession

    10. "The Welfare State Rewards Laziness"
    The poor are different from "the rest of us" prejudice

    11. "Idle hands are the Devil's workshop"
    More myths about poverty

    12. "Indians shouldn’t have any special rights"
    Belief that aboriginal peoples are "just another minority group"

    13. "If unemployed people can’t find jobs, they should start their own businesses"
    Anachronistic view concerning "individual responsibility," work, and the sanctity of small business enterprise

    14. "Recent trends toward falling living standards show that there are 'natural limits' to the expansion of human prosperity"
    Naturalistic explanation for why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer

    15. "The real culprit for the poverty gap (between rich and poor countries) is not uneven trade, but excessive population growth"
    Neo-Malthusian prejudice

    Suggested Readings

    Part Five: Social Class

    16. "Class inequality is an inevitable feature of the human condition"
    Misanthropic belief that "There will always be a ruling class"

    17. "As a rule, the rich deserve their wealth"
    Corollary to the absurd notion that the poor deserve to be poor

    18. "A classless society in a complex and economically developed society is impossible; it is an unrealistic utopia"
    Excuse for gross social inequality amidst tremendous wealth and productive capacity

    19. "Most people belong to the middle class"
    Myth of the "Middle Class Society"

    Suggested Readings

    Part Six: Feminism and the Women's Movement

    20. "Feminists are just 'male bashers'"
    Misogynist notion representing a step up from "bra burners." Better not to be thought of only for denouncing one's underwear

    21. "Feminism is no longer relevant"
    Delusional statement by people who think women "have it all"

    Suggested Readings

    Part Seven: Health, Sexuality, and Reproduction

    22. "Doctor Knows Best"
    Dubious homespun advice encouraged by medical professionals everywhere

    23. "Modesty and virtue are the essence of femininity"
    Who needs genital mutilation, when ideology can cripple sexual fulfillment just as effectively?

    24. "Homosexuality is unnatural"
    Or, why my orgasm is better than yours

    25. "Abortion is murder"
    Anti-woman hysterical rhetoric of the anti-abortion movement

    26. "The family is a haven in a heartless world"
    The "family values" myth

    Suggested Readings

    Part Eight: Policing the Culture of Prejudice

    27. "Lock 'em up and throw away the key!"
    Expensive, inefficient, inhumane, and remarkably simple-minded solution to the modern "crime problem"

    28. "Just say 'no' to drugs"
    Or, why my drugs are okay and yours aren't, as propounded by Nancy Reagan, Leading Lady to former actor and US President Ronald, c. 1980s

    29. "Support Your Local Police"
    Popular propaganda of dubious value to protesters of the Culture of Prejudice

    30. "In America, Justice is Blind"
    Myth of "Equality Before the Law"

    Suggested Readings

    Part Nine: Ecology and Animal Liberation

    31. "People come first"
    Conceits of anthropocentrism

    32. "Eating meat is natural"
    Preference defined as inevitability

    33. "Hunting is part of human nature"
    "Human nature" as a rationalization for the inhumane

    Suggested Readings

    Part Ten: The Economy

    34. "When Corporations Win, Everyone Wins"
    Or, why big business is our saviour, as explained in a letter to the editor, The St. Catharines Standard, August 9, 1997

    35. "Unions are too powerful; they are detrimental to the economy"
    Anti-labour sentiment in a world dominated by big capital

    Suggested Readings

    Part Eleven: Politics and Ideology

    36. "He who says organization says oligarchy"
    The anti-democratic prejudices of Robert Michels

    37. "Radicalism of the Left and Right are Equally Deplorable"
    The "golden mean" prejudice

    38. "Vote for the candidate of your choice, but vote"
    The "democratic" prejudice

    Suggested Readings

    Epilogue: "Black September" and the Culture of Prejudice

    Glossary

    Index

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