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Discrimination in the Labor Market Essay

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Updated: Dec 10th, 2019


Though a lot of effort has been dedicated in ensuring that discrimination along any ideology is eliminated, discrimination is still perpetrated in various sectors of the economy. Studies show that in the American labor market, equality is yet to be achieved. Minority groups still account for a very small percentage of people employed.

The majority of the unemployed people come from the minority ethnic groups including the African-Americans, the Spaniards and the Latinos (Royster 37). This kind of discrimination has been there since time immemorial and is expressed in different forms including wage difference, and allocation of employment opportunities.

As a result, there are two schools of thought, the market oriented perspective and the embedded perspective, which try to explain the racial discrimination in the labor market. Though these two schools of thought have great differences, they concur on some explanations.

Market Oriented Approach

The market oriented approach argues that the disparities in the labor market are normal results of the forces of demand and supply. According to this approach, the market has ways of balancing itself and these will always cause disparities (Waldinger and Michael 85).

The minorities lack the required experience and expertise to carry out some duties thus, compelling employers to look for the best alternative. It should be noted that each employer is out to maximize the returns from each unit of input and will, therefore, employ only the best suited inputs including human capital. In addition, it is argued that people from the minority races are few in number. Therefore, it is quite natural that they will be statistically few in various sections of the labor market.

Instead of the minorities complaining about being unable to get certain employment opportunities or earn a specific salary, they should react to information from the market. Consequently, they should invest and train in professions where salaries are high because these professions are highly valued (Vallas, William and Amy 210).

On the same note, they should advance their education standards so that they can compete favorably with the others. Notably, the market oriented perspective is against any artificial interference in the name of balancing the labor market, arguing that this will cause inefficiency. As long as, the minorities are not ready to embrace the reality in the labor market, the elite class will continue to control resources thus leading to further discrimination (Waldinger and Michael 218).

The Embedded Approach

On the other hand, the social embedded perspective argues that discrimination in today’s labor market stems from traditions that have been passed down through generations. The cultural values that are passed to each generation come with vested interests, which sometimes surpass the individual feeling that one may have towards a given ethnic group or race.

According to this perspective, the decline of social ties among people has paved way to social conflicts with the economically strong white group wanting to control the industrial economy (Royster 106). As a result, racial discrimination has emerged, though in a different form from what people were used to. The state has painfully added legitimacy, through its bureaucratic institutions, to actions which seem neutral but are actually improved forms of racism.

Proponents of this perspective argue that discrimination that is witnessed nowadays has its roots in the traditional social structure. Additionally, discrimination has been known to occur not because of the racist ideologies per se, but as a result of impartial circumstances.

Furthermore, the inherent practices of colonialism and privileges and traditions exercised by small white people have enhanced discrimination against minorities (Royster 108). In this regard, socially embedded perspective depicts that social norms to which people subscribe make it really hard for minorities to access labor.

Society is so vividly similar to what it was traditionally and cases of stereotyping are still prevalent. Therefore, some people have negative attitude towards certain races just because the race was considered inferior in ancient times (Vallas, William and Amy 198). Moreover, the society is also divided into economic and political groups where the superior groups still look down upon the inferior groups leading to discrimination.

Point of Agreement

Despite the two schools of thought having different views on the explanations of racial discrimination, they both agree on some points. To begin with, the two agree that lack of skills play a vital role in enhancing discrimination in various sections of the labor market. In this regard, it is argued that the minority groups have for a long period not taken education seriously (Royster 69).

Consequently, when employment opportunities arise it is found that the minority races cannot favorably compete for the same. The two schools of thought, therefore, agree that minority races also bear the blame of allowing discrimination in the labor market.

Another point of concurrence is that class distinction exists within the society and this still influences people’s decisions and actions. There are mechanisms in place which contrary to their objectives, only serve to separate the minority from others.

Instead of saving the minority from racist activities, these mechanisms deepen the miseries of minor races by exposing them to discrimination (Waldinger and Michael 229). In order to ensure that they increase their incomes and maintain their status quo as well, the ruling class will ensure the proletariats are not economically empowered. Therefore, the ruling class discriminates against other people to take care of their vested interests.

The Future of Impacted Groups

Discrimination is a reality that cannot be assumed in our society. Its there within our vicinity, and in one way or another it affects each one of us. It is very unfair to other people if they are eliminated from certain competitions just because of their skin color. The fact that one belongs to a given race does not make the person superior or inferior.

Unfortunately, the efforts put in place to eliminate discrimination are not doing much in curbing the vice and more needs to be done. Social embedded perspective argues that discrimination results from the basic structures of the society (Royster 105). Consequently, to eliminate discrimination the basics of the American society need to change.

People must be educated to get over their stereotypes and evaluate all people objectively. Minimization of the income gap is important to eliminate class distinction and thus avoid various causes of discrimination.

Since the market oriented perspectives argues that disparities witnessed are due to action of the market forces, it will be crucial to consider what the market requires. In this regard, it is upon the minority to invest heavily in education and thus enhance their employability.

On the same note, the minority need to join labor unions which will enable them to fight for better payments as well as their rights (Vallas, William and Amy 243). However, the government also needs to intervene and institute laws which will ensure that people with the same qualifications are paid equally regardless of their skin color. Essentially, it is a combination of strategies that will help in eliminating discrimination present in our society.

Works Cited

Royster, Deirde A. Race and the Invisible Hand: How White Networks Exclude Black Men From Blue-Collar Jobs. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. Print.

Vallas, Steven P., William Finlay and Amy S. Wharton. The Sociology of Work: Structures and Inequalities. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.

Waldinger, Roger and Michael I. Litcher. How the Other Half Works: Immigration and the Social Organization of Labor. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. Print.

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