Social Sciences

Start Free Trial

Much of the course has focused on subordinate groups. Why are the aged, people with disabilities, and gays and lesbians included in this analysis? Discuss one similarity that these groups have in common. Discuss one area of dissimilarity among these groups.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Any discussion of subordinate groups will focus on groups that are, in some way, given less power or lower status within a community.  It is for this reason that your class (I assume, given that I do not know first-hand what class this is or what its goals are) includes elderly people, gays, and those with disabilities in its analysis.  All of these groups are in some way less powerful or of lower status in typical American communities.

This is the main thing that all of these groups have in common.  All of them are of lower status in some ways.  They are all seen as in some way outside of the mainstream and perhaps even pitiable.  Disabled people are often pitied for their disability and seen as less competent than other people.  The elderly are often pitied because they are physically weaker and perhaps mentally weaker.  Gays and lesbians are pitied (by some) because of the problems that they face with being rejected by some parts of society.  There is a feeling that it must be difficult to deal with the attitudes that people have towards homosexuality.  Thus, all of these groups are looked at with some degree of pity because they do not conform to our ideas of what is “normal” or at least ideal.

Another thing that these groups have in common is that there is some degree of discrimination against them.  Older people have problems getting hired because employers might worry about their abilities or might not want to hire people who will not work for them for a long time.  The disabled might have problems getting hired because firms will not want to make accommodations for them or might be uncomfortable having disabled people around.  Gays and lesbians are seen as immoral by some groups and can be discriminated against for that reason.

The main thing that differentiates these groups is the degree to which society thinks that they are worthy of respect.  While we pity the old and the disabled, we do not condemn them.  We have some degree of respect for the aged because of their age.  We have respect for the disabled because they face difficulties in life that we feel lucky to have escaped.  By contrast, many people do not respect gay people.  They feel that gays have deliberately chosen to live an immoral lifestyle.  They feel that they, unlike the old and the disabled, have brought their problems on themselves.

Thus, we see these groups as similar in some ways and different in others.  They belong in a discussion of subordinate groups because none of them are seen as ideal or “normal.”

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial