Comparing tajfel’s social identity theory and scapegoating theory in explaining prejudice Essay

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Comparing tajfel’s social identity theory and scapegoating theory in explaining prejudice

The issue of comparing and contrasting Tajfel’s theory of social identity and the scapegoating theory in explaining prejudice is a very controversial issue subject to debate .The theories are like one and the same thing though they are different as show be noted as the debate goes on.The main difference is that scapegoating mainly touches on the rivals of in-group against out-group while social identity theory bases on the individual rivalry against individual and both have got a negative prejudice effect.

Barbara (1997) reiterates that prejudice by definition is an attitude usually negative toward a member of some other group solely on prejudice the membership in that group . Feldman explains prejudice in the sense that when two groups want to achieve the same goal but both groups cannot get hostility is due to happen .For example increased competition of various groups in times of economic crisis may be one of the factors leading to prejudice .Tajfel (1971) believes that the scapegoating theory is not adequate in explaining prejudice and he also uses a social identity theory .

However Tajfel et al (1971) argue that competition is not sufficient for inter-groups conflict and hostility .Tajfel does not deny the importance of competition between groups as explanation for the origins of prejudice but argues that mere perception of the existence of another group can itself produce discrimination .Tajfel et al goes on to say that before any discrimination occur ,people must be categorized as members of in-groups or out-groups but more significantly the very act of of categorization by itself produces conflict and discrimination leading to negative prejudice .

Therefore from the above analysis one can be tempted to say that the origins of prejudice in both social identity theory and scapegoating theory arise from the same nature to a greater extent as noted in the argument in question though they might be some differences but to a lesser extent.

Moreover, scapegoating theory in explaining prejudice asserts that people or
groups seeks to displace their anger on the weaker people or groups .When the weaker group sees that its being dehumanized or being regarded as inferior scapegoating has entered in the danger zone which will eventually lead to the aggression of the out-group.

However Tajfel’s social identity theory suggest that individuals strive for self image and social identity that is influenced by the value categorized by a group an individual belongs .Therefore from the aforementioned analysis one might be tempted to conclude that the spirit of pride within one group and an individual’s ego perpetuated by a group an individual belongs may leads to prejudice as expulsed in the argument above.

In addition , basing on the scapegoating theory in explaining prejudice ,pain and frustration only often evoke hostility for example the native Africans were allocated land in reserves which was very infertile and this led to the First Chimurenga war when the natives fought the whites blaming them for drought and other misfortunes that they were facing as a result of their presence .In contrast to the above theory, Myers(2008) elucidates that the social identity theory in explaining prejudice suggest that individuals in a group come to develop a sense of their identity that is anchored within in-group .

Therefore .from the information above one might tempted to clear that both of the two theories asserts that as a result of aggression by scapegoating and in-group development development as supported by Tajfel(1971) elaborates the concept of prejudice though they vary to a lesser extent as exhibited in the argument in question.

More so, Healey (2006) pontificates that the scapegoating theory targets for the displaced aggression vary, for example failure by the government of Zimbabwe to run the economy that led to hyper-inflationary epoch many Zimbabweans blamed the sanctions for the economic turmoil and the Europeans as the oppressors but were there to blame for economic crisis in actual sense and this poses a question to many people .

Moreover, in the early 1980s people vented their anger to the witchcraft tradition and leading to the masquerading of tsikamutandas to uproot witches in societies and people who were presumed to be witches were humiliated or forced to drink a concoction and if the witch belongs to in-group and another one from out-group favoritism was bound to happen leading to someone being unfairly treated due to favoritism .The South Africans felt the shortage of employment in their country is because of Zimbabweans saying that they are taking all jobs thus leading to xenophobia attacks on Zimbabweans and in that essence it evokes prejudice between the in-group and out-group.

On the other side of the coin ,Faney (2004) alludes that the social identity theory furnishes favoritism among in-groups and out-groups. The theory asserts that as groups are formed ,they come to develop a culture of patriotism towards themselves and to discriminate against out-groups .therefore , from the aforesaid assertions one might be tempted to alludes that prejudice arise from favoritism and displaced aggression as exposed in both theories above .

Furthermore , Tajfel (1971) suggests that resource allocation is done unequally ,in particular they will favor their own group at the expense of out-group .This suggest that the tendency in-favor of in-group may be especially powerful if the in-group feels to be minority .In addition the scapegoating theory in explaining prejudice propounds that for instance in Zimbabwe ,opposition to immigration since 1990 has gone up and down following the hijacking unemployment rate .

Moreover ,the scapegoating theory and social identity theory explain the concept of prejudice in a different dimension as noted above in the argument in question though some very small similarities were noted but since the explanations outwit the similarities one might be tempted to conclude that both theories in explaining prejudice they differ immensely .

To add more flesh to the bones , the social identity theory presumes that as people hear the views of a group they are bound to change their own views to suite of the in-group and one school of thought believes that similarities within groups will ultimately lend itself to polarization among groups .Members of the in-group will try to make themselves look unique from out-group as they endeavor this uniqueness to prove a spirit of social identity .

For example if l am a soccer fan and we are discussing the play of the play of an opposing team , l might advocate for my team that plays much better than the opposing team .However the scapegoating theory reiterates that the strongest anti-black prejudice has occurred among whites who stay much closer to blacks on the socio-economic hierarchy .

For instance the whites who protested for the industrial conciliation act enactment are the whites who were feeling threatened by the black society and those white who were on top of the socio-economic hierarchy felt no intimidation by blacks .there, as thus discussed above one might possibly say that it is clear from the aforesaid argument that scapegoating and social identity theory can explain prejudice from various angles as expulsed in the argument in question .

Moreover , Tajfel (1971) asserts that the personal identity deteriorates and social identity become focal in the sense that people have a feeling of themselves individually and as part of the group they belong and in doing so their group identity comes to the central core of their prejudice and they ceases to pay more attention on the individual characteristics of out-group .Furthermore , scapegoating pontificates that the clash of interest may result in prejudice and anyone who is not satisfied with himself is always ready for a revenge .For example Floyd May-weather might always feel that he can outclass Pacquino despite losing to him and every time is ready for a revenge match so as to claim his status as a champion .

Therefore , from the above analysis one might be tempted to conclude scapegoating and social identity theory are somehow different though clearly explaining the concept of prejudice as noted in the aforesaid assertions .

In summation ,It does not need a rocket scientist to discover that competition to prestige, social recognition ,water, land ,jobs and some other resources may precipitates aggression which will eventually turn into prejudice in both theories scapegoating and social individual theory .However , it is an abortion of factual evidence to sidestep the differences such as displaced aggression , feelings of in-group and out-groups , favoritism among in-groups and out-groups and just to mention but a few were addressed as differences of social identity and scapegoating theory as exhibited in the argument in question in explaining the concept of prejudice.


Tatenda Nyoka is a student at Great Zimbabwe Zimbabwe University and can be contacted on [email protected]

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