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Attitudes to Discrimination in Scotland

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ATTITUDES TO DISCRIMINATION IN SCOTLAND

CHAPTER FIVE THE SOURCES AND CONSEQUENCES OF PREJUDICE

It was noted earlier that 26% of respondents said that sometimes there is good reason for people to be prejudiced against certain groups. If the answers to this question are indeed tapping an underlying generalised support for discrimination that is reflected in attitudes towards a range of groups, then we would expect to find that those who express this view are generally more likely to adopt a discriminatory viewpoint across the whole range of questions we asked about particular groups. At the same time, however, if it is the case that attitudes towards minority ethnic groups and gay men and lesbians are more clearly the product of a prejudiced outlook than are those towards women and disabled people, then we might expect to find a stronger relationship in respect of the former groups than the latter.

Table 5-1 compares the answers given by those who say that there is sometimes good reason to be prejudiced to all the specific questions we have been examining so far with the answers given by those who say Scotland should get rid of all kinds of prejudice. Largely it confirms our expectations. Those who say that there is sometimes good reason to be prejudiced are generally more likely to adopt a discriminatory viewpoint than are those who say that Scotland should get rid of all kinds of prejudice. The differences are, however, more evident in respect of attitudes towards gay men and lesbians and ethnic minorities than they are towards disabled people and women (with the possible exception of attitudes towards gender roles). For example, the first section of the table shows that one in ten (11%) of those who say that Scotland should do all it can to eliminate prejudice also say that equal opportunities for ethnic minorities have gone too far, whereas amongst the group who say that prejudice is sometimes justified the figure is just over one in three (35%). In the second section we find that one in three (34%) of those who think prejudice should be eliminated say that a gay male couple would not make as good parents as a man and a women, while over half (54%) of those who feel that prejudiced can sometimes be justified question a gay male couple's suitability as parents. In contrast, the differences in attitudes presented in Chapters 3 and 4 are of a much smaller magnitude.

It appears then that there is a common element to many of the discriminatory attitudes that we have examined in this report. However, that element is more likely to express itself in respect of those groups whose right to be treated in the same manner as everyone else in society is more commonly questioned.

Table 5-1 Attitudes towards prejudice (general and specific examples)

Attitude to prejudice:

Scotland should do all it can to get rid of prejudice

Sometimes there is good reason to be prejudiced

All

1) Ethnic Minorities

% equal opps gone too far

11

35

18

% prefer not a black/Asian MSP

5

27

11

% would mind if relative married someone from different ethnic group

12

27

17

% think councils should not translate materials

29

50

35

% think ethnic minorities take jobs

14

37

20

% disagree ethnic minorities provide much needed skills

14

30

18

2) Gay men and lesbians

% equal opps gone too far

13

32

19

% prefer not gay/lesbian MSP

5

27

11

% think male homosexual relationships always/mostly wrong

34

60

41

% think councils should not fund support groups

55

73

60

% think unsuitable primary school teachers

21

45

27

% think gay couples should not marry

24

45

30

% think gay male couple not as good parents

34

54

39

3) Disabled people

% think equal opps gone too far

2

5

3

% prefer not disabled MSP

2

7

4

% think wheelchair users not suitable primary school teachers

29

38

31

% not agree main problem at work is other people's prejudice

23

29

24

% not agree shops and banks should make themselves accessible

19

25

21

4) Women

% think equal opps gone too far

6

10

6

% prefer not female MSP

2

7

4

% think councils should not fund groups helping women find work

28

35

30

% agree man's job to earn money, woman's to look after home

8

21

11

% say women more suitable primary school teachers than men

27

36

28

This association between our generalised measure of prejudice and our more specific measures of discriminatory attitudes generates another expectation. This is that we should find that the patterns of association between the various indicators of our three models and our generalised measure should replicate the general pattern that we have uncovered so far. Table 5-2 certainly suggests that this is true so far as our sociological model is concerned. The clearest difference of opinion is related to people's educational qualifications, with 18% of those with a degree saying prejudice is sometimes justified, compared with 31% of those with no qualifications. At the same time we also find that those in professional occupations, those who do not claim adherence to a Presbyterian denomination, and young people are all less likely to say that there is good reason to be prejudiced.

Table 5-2 Acceptability of prejudice by 'sociological' factors

% who agree

Scotland should do all it can to get rid of prejudice

Sometimes there is good reason to be prejudiced

All

68

26

Age

18-24

68

28

65+

59

35

Sex

Male

70

26

Female

67

26

Education

Degree

75

18

No quals

62

31

Class

Professional

75

21

Working class

66

30

Party id

Labour

72

23

Liberal Democrat

77

18

SNP

69

27

Conservative

61

35

None

60

32

Religion

CoS/Presb

64

31

Catholic

71

25

No religion

72

23

Church Attendance

Once a week

67

28

Never

70

26

Urban/ rural

Big cities

71

23

Remote rural

64

27

Much the same is true when it comes to the indicators we looked at in our economic and psychological models (see Table 5-3). Those who are objectively and subjectively worse off financially are more likely to say that there is sometimes good reason to be prejudiced. Seven in ten (71%) of those who say they are either living comfortably or are coping on their current income say that prejudice should be eliminated whereas just over half (56%) of those who say they are struggling financially say this. Equally, only 59% of people who say they would prefer to live in a neighbourhood where people are similar say that prejudice should be eliminated compared with 81% of those who like living with different kinds of people.

Table 5-3 Acceptability of prejudice by 'economic' and 'psychological' factors

% who agree

Scotland should do all it can to get rid of prejudice

Sometimes there is good reason to be prejudiced

Income

38,000 or more

77

19

9,999 or less

65

29

Self-rated economic hardship

Living comfortably

71

25

Coping on income

71

24

Having difficulty on income

56

36

Economic activity

In work

73

22

Unemployed

74

19

Where respondent would prefer to live

With different kinds of people

81

15

In an area where people are the same

59

36

National identity

British

71

25

Scottish

68

27

It appears then that our generalised measure of prejudice can reasonably be regarded as a summary indicator of many of the discriminatory attitudes examined in this report. This suggests that it can also conveniently be used to examine the relative importance of our three models. We can use a method of statistical analysis called logistic regression to establish which of these models appears best able to predict whether or not someone believes that sometimes there is good reason to be prejudiced. Whichever model best accounts for people's attitudes to prejudice in general should also be the model that helps to uncover the reasons why certain people hold discriminatory attitudes towards particular groups.

We undertook our analysis (the full results of which are to be found in Appendix One) in two stages. First of all, we examined separately for each of our three seats of variables, which particular characteristics were significantly associated with attitudes towards prejudice. But note that whereas so far our analysis has looked at the association between attitudes and each characteristic separately, now we are looking at which associations still matter after taking into account all of the other associations we have found. This means, for example, in looking at our sociological variables we can now assess whether there is any association between attitudes to prejudice and class after taking into account the association between attitudes and educational attainment.

This initial process suggested that only a small number of characteristics are clearly associated with attitudes towards prejudice. Of our sociological characteristics, education matters followed by age. Those with a degree or a professional qualification are less likely to express support for prejudice while those aged over 65 are more likely to do so. In other words, the kind of person who is most likely to express support for prejudice is someone aged over 65 with few or no qualifications. Meanwhile, of our economic measures, respondent's economic activity has a clear association followed by self-rated economic hardship. The former however captures a difference between on the one hand the retired and those not otherwise not economically active and on the other hand those in work - and not between those in work and unemployed people. It is thus largely picking up an age difference. Meanwhile, just one psychological measure makes a difference, that is those who prefer to live in an area where people are the same are more likely to express support for prejudice.

In the second stage of our analysis we brought together into a single logistic regression model those variables (other than respondent's economic position) that were significant in the first stage analyses. This enables us to assess which of our three models of explanations appears to be the most important. We find that in fact one variable from each of our models is significantly related to attitudes towards prejudice. However, of the three variables the one that is most strongly related to believing that sometimes there is good reason to be prejudiced is our psychological indicator of the kind of area in which someone would prefer to live. It appears that above all a discriminatory attitude is the product of being uncomfortable with perceived difference. 13