Prejudice vs Discrimination – Difference Between Prejudice and Discrimination

Prejudice vs Discrimination – Difference Between Prejudice and Discrimination

What’s the difference between prejudice and discrimination? There is no doubt that the two concepts have some correlation. Although they have similarities, they also have disparities. So, if you’re not sure about the disparity, that’s fine. Prejudice is an unfair attitude that can cause aggression from another person or group of people. And discrimination is treating and behavior against some other group of people directly

Furthermore, these practices always manifest themselves negatively and have lived with mankind since time immemorial. More often than not, the two anomalies are found where a large tribe meets a smaller tribe. In the real world, both terms have led to unspeakable abuse, murder, and hardship.

Moreover, in the familiar context, the two terms have been used interchangeably on countless occasions. However, they are used, we must make it clear that there is a difference between discrimination and prejudice. This simply means that we need to be aware of the contrasts in order to use them correctly.

That is why in this guide you will learn, through relevant theories and examples, how to break down in detail the difference between prejudice and discrimination sociology. As always, we will guide you through this document starting with definitions, tabulated contrast, and conclusion.

Definition of Prejudice – So What Is Prejudice?

Prejudice is defined as an unfair perception of another based on preconceived opinions funded on pre-existing conception as opposed to facts. This form of unfair treatment is more common in our world today than we care to know of. It is expressed in the following forms.

  • Racism: based on physical appearance and skin color. More often than not, people with lighter skin think they are superior to persons of color.
  • Xenophobia: disregard for people from other countries with physical features and behaviors that are similar or exactly the same
  • Religious differences: the belief that a particular form of worship is superior to another
  • Classism: marginalizing people of lower social class. According to socialists, there are five different social classes – elite, upper, middle, working, and poor social classes.
  • Homophobia: disregard for people whose sexuality is anything other than straight.
  • Sexism: this is based on a person’s sex and the idea that the male gender is superior to the female

Looking at these examples and considering the common non-fictional reports of each instance, one can see how they are based on preconceived opinions and not facts.

Definition of Discrimination – So What Is Discrimination?

Discrimination is defined as the actual act of treating another unfairly based on based on preconceived opinions founded on pre-existing conception as opposed to facts. Let us site our first difference considering prejudice vs discrimination. From their definitions, one can see that the former is a mere idea that exists only in one’s head, but the latter is when those ideas influence a person’s behavior.

Here are a few instances.

  • When a family of white people refuses to let their daughter date a particular person because he is black
  • Clashes between different groups as a result of their differences in religion
  • Giving men more employment opportunities than women or older because of the belief that men are more efficient
  • Disregard for persons from another country
  • Calling the police on a person of color for no reason except for the fact that he lives in an area mostly dominated by whites

A recap on the differences between discrimination vs prejudice, any action at all taken based on a senseless conception to deprive another of his or her basic human right, can be classified as the former. When it is just an idea or a belief that has not been acted on, then it is classified as the latter.

What Is the Main Difference Between Prejudice and Discrimination?

The table below gives more insight into the difference between prejudice and discrimination.    

Basis of ComparisonPrejudice Discrimination
Meaning It is the attitude (acceptable or unjust) adopted by one person or group towards another It is an unfriendly action brought against another person because of their age, race or sex
Use This is rarely used as the legal ecosystem This is usually used as a legal term
Description Inherent attitude against another person Unpleasant behavior or action towards another person 
Legal Control Laws can rarely control it Since it is perceived as a legal problem, it can be controlled by strict laws        
Inherent benefits Those who participate in this may have no benefits Those who discriminate always do so because they have something to gain
Acceptability This could either be positive or negative This is always negative

Indeed, the table above has tried to explain the difference between prejudice and discrimination. Now, we will conclude this article.

So What’s the Difference Between Prejudice and Discrimination? – Conclusion

So far, we have made some progress. It is safe to say that the major difference between prejudice and discrimination is while the former has to do with a biased attitude, the latter focuses on behavior or mistreatment/unfair action. To give meaning to these two words, it must be said that a race may have prejudicial attitudes but cannot discriminate because it is forbidden by law to do so or because it does not have the will to do so.

This simply means that the former, when left unmanaged, leads to the latter. On the other hand, there are cases where a tribe discriminates without having prejudicial attitudes. Over the years, experts have found effective solutions to contain these two unacceptable phenomena, but there are pockets of places where they are still widespread.

For example, anti-Semitism is still widespread in Germany, while tribalism is still commonplace in Africa. However, the world has made good progress in reducing both phenomena to the bare minimum.

Do you still find it difficult to understand this disparity? If so, we will make it very clear once again. Again, the major difference between prejudice and discrimination is that the former concerns the attitude of one person or group towards another, while the latter relates to an unjust action taken against another.

Indeed, we have broken down the concepts in the best possible way. Although they present some contrasts, they are certainly highly correlated. The table above clearly shows this contrast.