In social studies, minorities refer to the statistical indicators and groups of individuals who are not considered in a specific community for influential positions. The minority community (Jeffrey and Wilcox), on the other hand, is a cohort of individuals who are isolated from society by their physical characteristics or cultural context. Owing to the natural or cultural existence of such individuals, an objective and subjective criterion are viewed differently and collectively discriminated against. Objective criteria involve a case where an individual is ascribed by the society based on the behavioral or physical outlook like cases of ethnicity, sex race or gender whereas the subjective methodology involves the application of the societal status quo to create identity or solidarity (Modood).
The categorization of the minority groups also possesses the nature origin. For instance, a child born from a minority group is likely to acquire the social status of that group hence be subject to the treatments accorded to that minority group (Salsgiver). Within every large society, there exists subgroup that shares a common heritage which occurs regarding culture, language ideology or religion. The behavior and social activities of such minority groups are controlled and governed by norms and beliefs that originate from a common endogamy. In as much as a minority could be defined regarding the statistical differences, it is apparent that the term is all about issues to do with political power sharing within the groups. In the parts of the globe like South Africa, the minority groups are formed on the racial basis, and the blacks who were typically considered to be the opposition during the apartheid are always the biggest population (Stephen, Haas, and Miller). Hence, this is a justification to the fact the statistical difference cannot form the basis for defining the minority groups.
The origin of the Minority Groups
The term “national minorities” originated from Europe where people were known based on the territories and parcels of land that they had resided in for an extended period but had since lost them to larger populations of a different nationality (Salsgiver). In some occasions, the minority groups were distributed throughout the nations to occupy their original homelands, but now they could not hold any positions of power, thus remaining only as subjects. On other cases, the groups stayed in the same locations but were now ruled by the larger groups, that enacted legislations to govern the political and economic existence of the minorities. The smaller groups were not allowed to elect leaders and instead were send their community representatives to the national assembly.
The occupations and the areas of residence of the minority groups were determined by the law (James). With the civilization of the societies, the definition of the minority has witnessed a significant evolution over time, and such changes are correctly attributed to the dynamic political and economic differentiation. Certain occupations have become more salient setting apart people practicing the same profession, if the job has been considered to be hereditary in the society, making the other people to be classified as a minority group. A series of political happenings in a society can sharpen a semantic distinction to the extent that the subjects of a given variation language are considered the majority if they happen to acquire either political or economic power.
Sexuality, Gender, and Religious Minorities
In the Western countries, lesbians, gay, and the transgender people have prominently formed the minority group (James). Even terms such as queer have been used as a generalization for the sexualities and gender expressions of those people who are sexually abnormal according to the societal expectations. However, with the protection of the sex laws brought about by the gay rights activists in the 1970s such gender differences signify sexual diversity in the society. Even though the statistical difference between men and women in most parts of the world is negligible, women are usually seen as an oppressed group and are labeled as feminists. Women even participate in movements to find identification as a minority group (Haynes).
Besides, minority groups can also be formed on a religious basis (Stephen, Haas, and Miller). In this regard, there exists the religious minority whose identity is based on the fact that they practice a faith which is not common in the societies where they live. Multicultural societies across the globe accept the need to have freedom of worship (including the total lack of a specific religious attachment) as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rights of the other people within the same societies. Governments have also put in place various legislations that support the right to get attached to a specific religion, which is not limited, and even the freedom to move from one religion to another. Unfortunately, some few countries (with dominant religions) are still restrictive with the way people are allowed to worship (Salsgiver).
Minority Groups and Social Change
Social change is present in every community and continues to affect the lives of the people in various ways. The changes are either brought about the environmental factors or by the people themselves. Minority groups in society have the capacity to initiate social change, either positively or negatively. According to (Jeffrey and Wilcox), the human and socio-economic problems in the society majorly originate from the minority groups since they have no access to many social rights including the rights to employment and education. The groups are deprived of such rights and left to struggle.
The problems of the society and the government can only reduce or seize if the minority groups are not taken to mainstream (Stephen, Haas, and Miller). For instance, the youths are not to be the power behind the economic progress of any society, and if the problems of the young people from the minority groups are not addressed appropriately, then the youths are likely to influence the social change negatively. Such people are liable to start engaging in crimes, hooliganism, and other activities that may not be very healthy for the well-being of the society (Haynes). What is more, the discrimination and segregations are social problems that are likely to arise if the needs of the people from the minority groups are not addressed with the equal measure as those of their counterparts who are considered to be from the majority groups (Modood). The negative social issues make people from the minority groups go to go below the poverty levels, making them lose decision-making powers in the society. The social issues make the minority groups lose many social necessities leading to conflicts, as they struggle to get back their rights (Jeffrey and Wilcox).
The issues of race and ethnicity are some of the foundations upon which the minority groups’ movements originate in the United States and other parts of the world (Modood). The actions are socially constructed, but this does not make them superficial. The aspects of money and education are essential for the success of such movements since nothing much can happen if there is no money to spearhead the activities and if there are no educationally enlightened people in the group to motivate the agenda of the citizens. The movements have got both negative and positive impacts on the people’s lives in the society. The members of such groups feel a sense of protection when their rights are being fought for while the majority groups feel that their peace would be in jeopardy when the movements succeed with their agenda. Also, from a neutral point of view, the struggle for equity and equality among the citizens of a country is a good move since it promotes the respect for humanity.
In conclusion, minority groups are a construction of the society based on the race, language, sex, and gender. The opposition movement’s aims at giving people of given countries the same citizenship rights (Salsgiver). Through such changes, various judicial and legislative victories have been realized, and the level of discrimination based on the social constructs of gender, sex, language, among others has also gone down. The civil rights movements though sometimes violent, have achieved a lot. However, the inequality remains, and therefore there is still need to continue pushing for the rights (Stephen, Haas, and Miller)
Haynes, Jeffrey. Democracy and civil society in the Third World: Politics and new political movements. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2013.
James, Jacobs B. Stateville: The Penitentiary in Mass Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.
Jeffrey, Berry M., and Clyde Wilcox. Interest group society. Abingdon: Routledge, 2015.
Modood, Tariq.., Ltd, 2013. Multiculturalism. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2013.
Salsgiver, Richard. A diversity model approach in human service practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.
Stephen, Castles, Hein De Haas and Mark J. Miller. The age of migration: International population movements in the modern world. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.