Prejudice & Politics: Perception & Manifestation

Home/ Prejudice & Politics: Perception & Manifestation
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSDS2DS2204

Semester to which offered:  (I/ III/) Monsoon Semester

Course Coordinator and Team: MoggallanBharti

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites:: A basic understanding in Social Sciences.

Aim:In the contemporary world instances of Islamophobia, xenophobia, racial hatred, ethnic violence, misogyny, caste violence and discrimination are not only overtly witnessed, but are increasingly seen receiving political endorsement. Perhaps it’s the latter that brings the former in action, in the first place, but we do not know that for sure.Hence in such a situation, studying the linkages between the formation of social prejudices and its relationship with politics is increasingly necessary. Much of the focus on this aspect of political and social discrimination has been at the heart of the work done by political psychologist and has broadly centred on racism and the racial discrimination. Such an immense corpus of work in this area, albeit overlooks the fault lines that feeds in to the formation of a prejudiced political economy in India and that requires a careful and perceptive analysis on our part. The basic aim and the purpose of this course,then is to look in to the social and psychological foundations of prejudices and its impact on the evolving politics. The course will make an attempt to locate the stereotypes and prejudices using the available theories on the nature of human prejudice and would juxtapose it with classic texts from the field of political theory that deals with the human agency in the formation of political society. Emphasis will be given on the process of racial othering, entrenched patriarchy, the concept of graded inequality embedded in the Hindu caste system, along with thesystemic post-colonial structures in the world and the issues arising from the coming together of multi ethnic and multicultural communities today. The course shall make an attempt in underlining the processes behind the racial prejudice and that of caste prejudice, along with that of gender, which have all but a common thread running and that is they all dehumanizes a community and gender.

Key Learning Objectives

  • To enable the students to understand the multidisciplinary scholarly literature on prejudice, particularly regarding the origins and forms of prejudicial behavior.
  • Students shall be able to exhibit firm understanding of the contemporary knowledge about studies that focuses on the formation of various types of prejudice, the results of which they will be able to critically discuss.
  • Students shall reflect an understanding on the role of the public institutions in transmitting the norms related to social prejudice and how it all in the end feeds in to our political system.
  • Finally, making the participants familiar with the most effective methods of prejudice reduction and imparting an understanding on the ethical and normative debates from the studies on social prejudices.

Main modules:

In this course an attempt will be made to have a theoretical understanding of prejudices that informs and consolidate its political manifestations and most importantly how the objective of politics could then be refashioned as primarily dispelling socially formed prejudices. Following this perspective, the course will discuss the following fourmodules:

  1. Conceptualising and understanding prejudice
  2. Prejudices and its political manifestation
  3. Perspective of the target (of prejudice) groups
  4. Politics as reducing prejudice

Brief description of the modules:

1. Conceptualising and understanding prejudice:

Understanding the nature and the making of prejudice is very vital to our perception of the world we live in and the knowledge we develop and share. Under this module an attempt will be made to understand the nature and origin of prejudicial behaviour among individuals using the classic work of Allport, Adorno and other contemporary readings of historical significance.



  • Gordon Allport, (1979), Chapter 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14 & 15, The Nature of Prejudice. Basic Books.
  • Christopher Vials, The Authoritarian Personality. Can be accessed here
  • J.H. Duckit, (1992), Psychology and prejudice: A historical analysis and integrative framework. American Psychologist, 47(10), 1182-1193.


Theodor W. Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel J. Levinson, R. Nevitt Sanford, (1950), The Authoritarian Personality. Harper and Brothers , particularly, Chaps. 7 and 18.

2. Prejudices: Political Manifestation

Studies done in the field of political psychology have explained in great detail on how the prejudicial behaviour shapes one’s political choices and ideology. Prejudicial thinking, as scholars believes, is seen as a trenchant thought grounded in the backdrop of one’s social behaviour which goes in to making sense of the world around him. Seen in this light, prejudice then necessarily manifests itself politically, as in, it tends to influence the political. This module discusseslarger interaction of prejudice influencing the political and vice versa.

Essential readings:

Dixon, J., & Levine, M. (Eds.). (2012), Chapter 2, 11, 12 & 14 in Beyond prejudice: Extending the social psychology of conflict, inequality and social change. Cambridge University Press.

Giddens, A. (1991). Four theses on ideology. CTheory, 15(1-3), 21-24.

Nagel, J. (1998). Masculinity and nationalism: Gender and sexuality in the making of nations. Ethnic and racial studies, 21(2), 242-269.

Ghoshal, R.A., Lippard, C., Ribas, V. and Muir, K., 2013. Beyond bigotry: Teaching about unconscious prejudice. Teaching Sociology, 41(2), pp.130-143.

Further readings:

  • Arendt, H. (1973). The origins of totalitarianism (Vol. 244). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • Anderson, K. J. (2010). Benignbigotry: The psychology of subtle prejudice. Cambridge University Press.
  • Bourdieu, P. (2001). Masculine domination. Stanford University Press.

3. Perspective of the target (of prejudice) groups:

Politics fanning social prejudices are found to be of very serious in nature leading to pervasive social and political exclusion of the affected group. It is due to the inordinate influence of prejudice on our cognitive abilities, that the former must be grasped as political in nature and obviously then has an impact on the organization and evolution of politics.An attempt will be made to understand the lived reality of a stigmatised identity and how stereotypes affecta group. In this module an attempt will be made to understand perspective of various target groups, mainly Dalits and Women.

Essential readings:

B. R. Ambedkarand S. Rege (2013), Against the Madness of Manu: BR Ambedkar’s Writings on Brahmanical Patriarchy. Navyana.

Will Kymlicka (1995), Multicultural citizenship: A liberal theory of minority rights. Clarendon Press.

J.K. Swim and C. Stangor, eds., (1998), Prejudice: The target's perspective. Academic Press.


  • Kristin J. Anderson (2010), Benign bigotry: The psychology of subtle prejudice. Cambridge University Press.
  • Gopal Guru, (2011), Introduction, Humiliation: Claims and context. OUP
  • E. Zelliot, (1996) ‘From Untouchable to Dalit: Essays on the Ambedkar Movement’, in The Leadership of Babasaheb Ambedkar, Delhi: Manohar, pp. 53-78.

4. Politics as reducing prejudice:

It is not very uncommon to see people holding fast to their views, even when they may not have experienced their own reasons which went in to the making of their prejudicial viewpoint in the first place. This very sense of an un-experiential belief system that fuels prejudice against a community is increasingly seen as legitimizing their respective political ideologies. Stereotypes against women, Muslims and ethnic minorities are some of the hard cases where people keep close to their prejudices despite it not informed through any real experience and which have more commonly came from their peers. In this module an attempt will be made to understand the possible model of politics against the politics of social prejudices.



Ian Mackenzie, (2009), Politics: Key Concepts in Philosophy, Chap 1. Continuum.

R. M. Baird and S.E. Rosenbaum, eds., (1999), Hatred, bigotry, and prejudice: Definitions, causes, and solutions. Prometheus Books.

S.E. Bronner, ( 2014). The Bigot: Why Prejudice Persists. Yale University Press.

Kristen Renwick Monroe, and Maria Luisa Martinez-Martí.(2008).Empathy, prejudice, and fostering tolerance. PS: Political Science & Politics 41.4, p.857-863.

Billig, M. (2012). The notion of “prejudice”: Some rhetorical and ideological aspects. Beyond prejudice: Extending the social psychology of conflict, inequality, and social change, 139-57.


  • Korstanje Maximiliano, E. (2010). Ideology & Prejudices: Exploring the roots of religion. Antrocom, 6(1), 101-113.
  • Gordon Allport, (1979), The Nature of Prejudice. Basic Books.
  • Jon. Nixon, (2015), Hannah Arendt and the politics of friendship. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Further Readings

  • Arendt, Hannah. Eichmann in jerusalem. Penguin, 1963.
  • Borooah, V.K., Sabharwal, N.S., Diwakar, D.G., Mishra, V.K. and Naik, A.K., 2015. Caste, Discrimination, and Exclusion in Modern India. SAGE Publications India.
  • Pateman, C., 1989. The disorder of women: Democracy, feminism, and political theory. Stanford University Press.
  • Saunders, T.J, ed., Sinclair, T.A. trans., 1992. The Politics, by Aristotle. Penguin Classic (Revised Edition).
  • Velásquez, Eduardo A.,ed., 2003. Love and friendship: Rethinking politics and affection in modern times. Lexington Books.
  • Zinn, H., 1990. The politics of history: with a new introduction. University of Illinois Press.
  • Gyanendra Pandey, (2013), Introduction, A History of prejudice: Race, Caste and Difference in India and the United States.
  • DebiprasadChattopadhyaya (1992) - Lokayata_ A Study in Ancient Indian Materialism. People’s Publishing House.
  • Hannah Arendt and J. Kohn (2005), The Promise of Politics. Schocken Books, New York.
  • Brod, H., & Kaufman, M. (Eds.). (1994). Theorizing masculinities (Vol. 5). Sage.

Tentative Assessment schedule with details of weightage:



Date/period in which Assessment will take place



Take home assignment

9th September, 2020



Research Presentation

21st October, 2020



Literature Review

November End