Minority Group Status
A minority group refers to a subordinate group whereby the members do not have enough control over their lives and do not have power to effectively fight for their rights. A minority group is inferior and is usually dominated by the rest, who are usually the majority group. The minority group experiences rather few opportunities to pursue their goals since education, success and wealth is limited to them. Such opportunities are disproportionately very low when compared to their population within the society. (Feagin, 2000)
Characteristics of Minority Group Status
A minority group has a number of characteristics which distinguish them from the majority group. The characteristics make them stand out from the rest and become easily identifiable. One characteristic of the members of the minority group is that they have distinguishing cultural or physical traits, for example skin color (physical) and language (cultural). A good example is Blacks in countries which are largely dominated by Whites. Another characteristic is that they usually face unequal treatment and have less power and therefore are not in full control of what goes around them. Mostly, the members claim of receiving unfair treatment and are constantly discriminated against. (Peter & Trauttman, 2006)
In extreme cases, the members may be denied their rights to access certain resources, for, example, having recreational facilities strictly for majority group and restricting the minority group from accessing them. The third characteristic is that the members do not belong to the minority group by choice. The membership is therefore involuntary and no one can be compelled to remain a member or give up the membership since it is through race, power or even law that a person finds himself or herself belonging to the minority group.
The fourth characteristic is that there is usually a high degree of awareness of subordination as well as a strong sense of solidarity among the members. The last characteristic is that, the majority group is high characterized by in-group marriages due to their close association and collaboration. (Jacob, 2005)
Different Ways in Which Groups Become Minorities
There are various ways in which groups become minorities numerically and socially. Numerically the minority group is judged by virtue of being few in numbers, for example, racial whereby the members are classified on some obvious characteristics, such as skin color. These characteristics are visible. For instance, Racial minority groups in US; American Indian, Blacks, Hawaiians and Asian Americans. Socially, the minority group is judged on the basis of inferior culture, faith, or belief as in gender, ethnic and religion. (Jacob, 2005)
Ethnically, the groups are classified on cultural basis, such as food and language. Ethnic Minority Groups in US include Latinos and Hipics such as Puerto Ricans, Chicanos and Cubans. The Jews are also part of the cultural minorities. In terms of gender, males are usually the social majority and women are the social minority. In religion, the minorities are the members who do not have the same faith as the majority group. For instance, Muslims, Mormons, Roman Catholics and Amish are religious minorities in US. (Peter & Trauttman, 2006)
Consequences of Minority Group Status
Some of the consequences are pluralism, assimilation, fusion, segregation, secession, expulsion and extermination. In pluralism, this is whereby the minority and majority groups or individuals maintain their different identities, that is, Whites are represented by Whites and Blacks by Blacks. In assimilation, the minority group identifies with the majority group in terms of culture and consequently is absorbed by the dominant group. In fusion, the majority and minority group merge to create a new group. (Feagin, 2000)
Their cultures and physical characteristics are synthesized without intermarrying. In segregation, these two groups are physically separated in terms of work place, residence and social functions. In secession, the minority group moves out to create a new nation or join an established nation, whereby it becomes dominant. In expulsion, the minority group may be forced to leave a certain region or even thrown out of the country by the dominant group. In, extermination, the minority group is wiped out through genocide or systematic, deliberate killing. (Feagin, 2000)
From the discussion above, the existence of minority group status is not healthy though it cannot be avoided. Many divisions result from such differences making it impossible for a certain group to pursue their common goals and encourage vices such as discrimination against tribe, gender and religion. (Peter & Trauttman, 2006)
- Feagin, J. (2000) Racial and Ethnic Relations, Palgrave Publishers, US.
- Jacob, C. (2005) What is a Minority Group, Palgrave Publishers, UK.
- Peter, Z. & Trauttmann, C. (2006) Distinguishing between Minority and Majority Group, Fireside Press, Washington DC.