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Encyclopedia > Minority

The definition of a minority group can vary, depending on specific context, but generally refers to either a sociological sub-group that does not form either a majority or a plurality of the total population, or a group that, while not necessarily a numerical minority, is disadvantaged or otherwise has less power (whether political or economic) than a dominant group. Examples of US minorities in this latter context include women and African Americans.[1] // INTRODUCTION In sociology, a group is usually defined as a collection consisting of a number of humans or animals, who share certain aspects, interact with one another, accept rights and obligations as members of the group and share a common identity. ... A majority is a subset of a group that is more than half of the entire group. ... A plurality (or relative majority) is the largest share of something, which may or may not be a majority. ...


In a socio-economic context, the term "minority" tends to refer to groups of people who, according to a particular set of criteria, are fewer in population than other ethnic groups. All criteria for ethnicity have bearing on designating a minority — language, nationality, religion or culture. Often this means it is outnumbered by at least one other sub-group, but not always. The term sexual minority is sometimes used for groups (gay men and lesbians, transgendered individuals, etc.) whose sexual orientation or gender identity differs from the perceived norm. This article or section should be merged with ethnic group Ethnicity is the cultural characteristics that connect a particular group or groups of people to each other. ... In English usage, nationality is the legal relationship between a person and a country. ... The word culture, from the Latin colo, -ere, with its root meaning to cultivate, generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activity significance. ... A sexual minority—the term is most commonly used in the plural, sexual minorities— is a group whose sexual orientation or practices differ from the majority of the surrounding society. ...


In politics, a minority government may be one which is formed by a party with a plurality of seats in the national legislature, when no majority party exists.


A minority group refers to a social group whose members are subject to different and unequal treatment in the society in which they live; this differential treatment is based solely on an individual's perceived membership to a given minority group and without consideration of that individual's personal achievement. A distinction must be made between numerical minorities and majorities, defined by their relative size, and sociological minorities and majorities—the focus of this article—defined by their relative status; to aviod confusion, some authors alternately substitute the terms subordinate group and dominant group for the terms minority group and majority group, respectively. ==GROUP== CONTENTS : 1. ...

Contents


Sociological minority groups

A majority, in sociological terms, is that segment of the population that outweighs all others combined, one that is dominant. The term minority is unavoidably associated with the political movements which push for assimilation, in which the minority group sheds its distinctive traits and is absorbed into the dominant group. A majority is a subset of a group that is more than half of the entire group. ... In the social sciences, assimilation is the process of integration whereby immigrants, or other minority groups, are absorbed into a generally larger community. ...


Generally speaking, a minority is any disadvantaged group, regardless of their size in comparison to the rest of the population. An example would be the numerically majoritary blacks in South Africa under the Apartheid system. The classic definition of a minority group, as put forward by sociologist Louis Wirth, is "a group of people who, because of their physical or cultural characteristics, are singled out from the others in the society in which they live for differential and unequal treatment, and who therefore regard themselves as objects of collective discrimination." A segregated beach in South Africa, 1982. ... ...


The definition includes both objective and subjective criteria: Membership to a minority group is objectively ascribed by society, based on an individual's physical or behavioral characteristics; it is also subjectively applied by its members, who may use their status as the basis of group identity or solidarity. Ascribed status is a social position a person is given from birth or assumes involuntarily later in life. ... Humanitism is a philosophy born in academic circles from efforts in dialogue & universalism and in the minds of the populus at the close of the 2nd Millennium CE rather than one that can be ascribed to any one individual. ...


In any case, minority group status is categorical in nature: an indivdual who shows the physical or behavioral characteristics of a given minority group will be accorded the status of that group and be subject to the same treatment as other members of that group.


A society singles-out members for differential treatment based on a variety of categories, including (but not limited to) age, gender, race or ethnicity, disability, religion, and sexual orientation.


Racial or Ethnic Minorities

Religious Minorities

Here the role distribution is not intrinsic but historical: Muslims are a minority in predeominantly Christian western societies, and vice versa.


Gender 'minority'

Even though the natural distribution of the genders tends to be roughly equal, in many societies one gender is traditionally dominant enough to be behave as a 'majority', making the other, in the modern age generally women, as a de facto minority.


Sexual minorities

Homosexuals, bisexulas, transvestites and transsexuals.


Agist minorities

The Elderly, while traditionally influential or even (in a gerontocracy) dominant in the past, have in the modern age usually been reduced to the minority role of economically 'non-active' groups. A gerontocracy is a form of oligarchical rule in which an entity is ruled by a small clique of leaders, in which the oldest hold the most power. ...


The Disabled

In politics and government

In the politics of some countries, a minority is an ethnic group that is recognized as such by respective laws of its country and therefore has some rights that other groups lack. Speakers of a legally-recognized minority language, for instance, might have the right to education or communication with the government in their mother tongue. Countries that have special provisions for minorities include China, Germany, India, Russia, and the United Kingdom (which does maintain the concept of a British supra-nation, however). In the United States, the term minority typically refers to members of the non-white population, but since the population and power of whites has been decreasing over time in the US, using the term "minority" to identify non-whites in some regions is becoming a misnomer. Politics is a process by which collective decisions are made within groups. ... Look up country in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... A minority language is a language spoken by a minority of the population of a country. ...


Differing minority groups often are not given identical treatment. Some groups are too small or too indistinct compared to the majority, that they either identify as part of the same nation as the members of the majority, or they identify as a separate nation but are ignored by the majority because of the costs or some other aspect of providing preferences. For example, a member of a particularly small ethnic group might be forced to check "Other" on a checklist of different backgrounds, and consequently might receive fewer privileges than a member of a more defined group.


Many contemporary governments prefer to assume the people they rule all belong to the same nationality rather than separate ones based on ethnicity. The United States asks for race and ethnicity on its official census forms, which thus breaks up and organizes its population into different sub-groups, but primarily on racial origin rather than national one. Spain does not divide its nationals by ethnic group, although it does maintain an official notion of minority languages. The United States Census Bureau uses the federal governments definitions of race when performing a census. ...


Some minorities are so relatively large or historically or otherwise important that the system is set up in a way to ensure complete equality. As an example, the former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina recognizes the three main nations, none of which constitute a numerical majority, as constitutive nations, see nations of Bosnia and Herzegovina. One of the most influential doctrines in history is that all humans are divided into groups called nations. ... More than 95% of population of Bosnia and Herzegovina belongs to one of its three constitutive nations: Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs. ...


The issue of establishing minority groups, and determining the extent of privileges they might derive from their status, is controversial. There are some who argue that minorities are owed special recognition and rights, while others feel that minorities are unjustified in demanding special rights, as this amounts to preferential discrimination and could hamper the ability of the minority to integrate itself into mainstream society - perhaps to the point at which the minority follows a path to separatism or supremacism. In Canada, some feel that the failure of the dominant English-speaking majority to assimilate French Canadians has given rise to Quebec separatism. To discriminate is to make a distinction between people on the basis of class or category without regard to individual merit. ... Separatism involves setting oneself or others apart. ... Supremacism is the belief that ones race or religion is the supreme, and that those of other distinctions are (by various arbitrary criteria) unfit for social or religious interaction, and sexual reproduction. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Quebec The Quebec sovereignty movement is a movement calling for the attainment of sovereignty for Quebec, a province of the country of Canada. ...


One particularly controversial issue is affirmative action, or positive discrimination: the idea that minorities should be granted special privileges that the majority does not enjoy. An example of this is when an individual of minority status is given preference for acceptance to a university over a more- or equally-qualified non-minority, in order to fulfill a quota of minorities in the student body. Critics of these policies often refer to them as reverse discrimination and argue that they are perpetrating new wrongs to counter old ones, and instilling a sense of victimhood in the majority. Proponents of the polices argue that the end result—a more diversified student body—justifies the means. The debate is likely to continue into the future. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Affirmative action (US English), or positive discrimination (British English), is a policy or a program providing advantages for people of a minority group who are seen to have traditionally been discriminated against. ... A university is an institution of higher education and of research, which grants academic degrees at all levels (bachelor, master, and doctor) in a variety of subjects. ... Reverse discrimination is a term used to describe discriminatory policies or acts that benefit a historically sociopolitically nondominant group (typically minorities), rather than the historically sociopolitically dominant group. ...


See also

It has been suggested that minoritarianism be merged into this article or section. ... April 1984 cover of Newsweek featuring an article on the success of Asian American students Model minority refers to a minority ethnic, racial, or religious group whose members stereotypically achieve a higher degree of success than the population average. ... A majority is a subset of a group that is more than half of the entire group. ... Marginalized group in sociology refers to various groups that are outside of mainstream - like the homeless, geeks, punks, skinheads, as well as minorities (sexual, national, etc. ...

External links

  • Eurominority - Organization for the European Minorities (Stateless Nations and national minorities)
  • ECMI - European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Minority Rights Group International
  • What is a Minority Group? definitions from Dayton Law School.
  • From Paris to Cairo: Resistance of the Unacculturated

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