Favouritism and discrimination

Discrimination today is less about treating people from other groups badly, DiTomaso writes, and more about giving preferential treatment to people who are part of our “in-groups.”

The insidious thing about favoritism is that it doesn’t feel icky in any way, Banaji says. We feel like a great friend when we give a buddy a foot in the door to a job interview at our workplace. We feel like good parents when we arrange a class trip for our daughter’s class to our place of work. We feel like generous people when we give our neighbors extra tickets to a sports game or a show.

In each case, however, Banaji, Greenwald and DiTomaso might argue, we strengthen existing patterns of advantage and disadvantage because our friends, neighbors and children’s classmates are overwhelmingly likely to share our own racial, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

For more, go here. (Thanks, S!)

5 thoughts on “Favouritism and discrimination

  1. And the worst favouritism is leaving your estate to your children, cementing the social fabric and the distribution of wealth for yet another generation.

  2. Vedantam says that Banaji, Greenwald and DiTomaso “might argue”; I’d be curious to know if any of them actually do make that argument. Does anyone remember Adam Bellow’s (yes, of those Bellows) book of a decade ago In Praise of Nepotism? The subject of (among other things) whether favouritism is a net benefit or net detriment to society would make for an interesting debate between Bellow and Banaji. I’m almost surprised that Banaji & Greenwald’s index doesn’t mention Bellow’s influential book.

  3. yeah, uh, I’m pretty sure that discrimination of the form of treating the disfavored badly is still in high vogue in some parts…

  4. I didn’t find anything addressing the notion that this tendency is actually helpful WITHIN groups that are typically disadvantaged. When a successful member of a traditionally disadvantaged group does well and then plays favorites, it can help bring up others from that group. For instance, a female philosopher who relates to female students and reaches out to them is helping to make up for disadvantages that the student faces by being underrepresented in our field.

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