Discrimination and coercion are the two possible ways of limiting human behavior. If the former creates obstacles for personal, professional, and economic development, the latter can have a positive impact on public health and access to vital resources. Sunstain discusses the ethical differences between coercion and influence, concluding that indirect influence or “nudging” is more ethically correct than coercion, and can be even more efficient (1). Coercion limits the freedom of action, which can bring about negative consequences, even if its purposes are positive. Grinch describes the conceptual model of social inclusion/exclusion and its implications among racial minorities and migrant groups (98). Policy solutions to this problem currently address only participation in the labor market and inclusion into social services. However, the self-reinforcing process of social exclusion requires a comprehensive and transformational approach. This essay will discuss specific cases of gender-based, ethnic, and migration-based discrimination, as well as the importance of regulatory influence as a way to improve social life.
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Case 4. New Title: Gender-Based Discrimination is About Paying More While Earning Less
Identify the Research Goal: This study intends to develop an explanatory foundation for “consumer expectations and attitudes related to gender-based price discrimination” (Ferrell 1015).
Theory: Social exclusion is used to explain the results (Gingrich et al. 98).
Outcomes: The study revealed gender differences in expectations, depending on the nature of the services provided and attitudes of the people questioned. Men expected different pricing more than women.
Application: People with higher social power are usually “more dismissive and less empathetic” to those who have less power (Ferrell 1028). The research has shown that women have more tolerance to gender-based price discrimination. As far as economic capital can form the grounds for social exclusion, price discrimination based on gender difference is a form of social exclusion in its minor manifestation.
In order to produce social inclusion, the social and economic context that caused such exclusion should be considered (Gingrich et al. 107). The study includes the analysis of the field where its dynamics are reproduced, notably the sphere of hairstyling services. The researchers conclude that retailers should treat consumers equally and without discrimination, and public policy makers should regulate the present difference.
Case 5. New Title: The Role of Behavioral Economy in Public Health: Judges Require Proper Education
Identify the Research Question: “How might judges become more sensitive to behavioral science and better appreciate the need for agencies to use it when developing a regulatory strategy?” (Diller 283).
Theory: The behavioral approach explains the findings of this case study (Sunstain 5).
Outcomes: The introduction of behavioral economics to law students and the respective professional development courses for practicing judges would indirectly but effectively influence the market economy (Diller 283).
Application: Behavioral economics is crucial for public health, but unfortunately, the food industry employs it more effectively than the Government. The courts are helpless in front of large industry actors because of their lack of knowledge in behavioral science. Coercion is viewed as a limitation for the freedom of choice, especially when used in non-criminal cases (Sunstain 5). However, it could be used to make the food industry more concerned about obesity than earnings.
In the litigation case described in the article, the court ruled that behavioral economics used as a “regulatory tool” to decrease the consumption volume of soda among the population was inadmissible, allegedly because it limited the autonomy of the consumers. Presently, social science does not view consumers as rational actors whose behavior is dictated by external stimuli. Still, the judicial system is not ready to do the same due to the lack of appropriate knowledge.
Case 6. New Title: Supermarkets as the Engine or Restraint of Urban Development
Identify the Research Goal: To provide “insights into the causes of a unique form of urban inequality” (Deener 1285).
Theory: The foundations approach of behavioral science can explain the findings of this case study (Sunstain 5).
Outcomes: The reformatting of public and private infrastructures has torn the “connective tissues” between different market actors, creating food deserts (Deener 1303).
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Application: The Government has many tools to prohibit or require (Sunstain, 5), but in the studied case, it abstained from interfering with the self-organizing food market. In the 1930s, gaps started to emerge in the spatial structure of distribution systems and population settlements. Philadelphia’s largest supermarket chains had to adapt to these changes, closing the unprofitable urban stores (Deener 1286). The Government could have used force in the form of law or fines to ensure filling in these gaps in food distribution chains, although the ethics of such a solution would be doubtful.
The “background conditions for people’s choices” or the “choice architecture” studied by experts in behavioral science could increase economic growth and reduce poverty, to name a few (Sunstain 5). The food deserts in Philadelphia and other countries could be eliminated by this approach.
Case 7. New Title: Visible Minority Representatives are Invisible for Recruiters
Identify the Research Goal: The research intends to “some of the current preemployment discrimination practices that are being used to impede the participation of African Americans in the workforce” (Whitaker 22).
Theory: The foundations approach of social exclusion can explain the findings of this case study (Gingrich et al. 98).
Outcomes: African Americans encounter barriers restricting their access to jobs because of historical discrimination forms (race, age, gender, and physical condition) and some new ones (first names, employment history, criminal records, and employer bias).
Application: There are prejudicial features that turn a person into a victim of discrimination when being hired. As described by Gingrich et al., “visible minority” status, i.e., ethnicity, mother language, and country of birth, impacts the preemployment discrimination, although it can be inconsistent with self-identification of the person involved (102). Whitaker discusses that African American first names are often ridiculed for their complex spelling, and can serve as an indicator of non-applicability (Whitaker 23). When a future employer sees an African American name in a CV, it can be a substantial ground not even to invite such a person for a job interview.
Case 8. New Title: Social Exclusion as a Barrier for Comfortable Retirement
Identify the Research Question: “How does a life course of earnings inequality affect immigrants’ ability to build private retirement savings?” (Curtis 183).
Theory: Social exclusion explains the results of the case study (Gingrich et al. 98).
Outcomes: One of the most important results is that there is a significant difference between private savings based on nativity and race, which confirmed the hypothesis.
Application: Social exclusion explains the above mentioned result by social processes that deny the effective exchange of personal holdings. These processes cut off “avenues for upward mobility” (Gingrich et al. 100). People who are not Canadian natives have lower access to well-paid jobs; thus, their private savings result to be lower than those of the native-born residents. Labor market exclusion is even more visible among women, newer immigrants, and representatives of other ethnic groups. Foreign education also decreases the immigrants’ chances of higher incomes, making it impossible to earn a secure and decent retirement. The worrisome growing gap in private savings of White, native-born men and all the other groups of the population is therefore caused by all mechanisms of social exclusion: economic, socio-political, subjective, and spatial.
Having considered the above cases, one can conclude that regulatory coercion could be a powerful method of public wellbeing improvement, despite its primary criticism. In the discussed cases, indirect influence may not be efficient enough to make a change. Even compulsory behavioral economy classes for law students and practicing judges can be deemed as nudging, not coercion. Social inclusion of the minority groups also requires legislative stimuli or “nudging” to become an indisputable social value for all the population (Gingrich et al. 99). It should be admitted that even such minor characteristic features of a minority as first names can trigger discrimination. At present, access to services, labor market, and social relations appear to be inherently exclusionary for the minorities. However, if the discussed inclusion becomes compulsory with the help of legislative tools, it could turn into subordinate insertion, which is not the desired outcome either. Therefore, the two foundations approaches, notably social inclusion/exclusion and behavioral science, could benefit from their simultaneous application.
Curtis, Josh, and Lightman, Naomi. “Golden Years or Retirement Fears? Private Pension Inequality Among Canada’s Immigrants.” Canadian Journal on Aging, vol. 36, no. 2, 2017, pp. 178–195.
Deener, Andrew. “The Origins of the Food Desert: Urban Inequality as Infrastructural Exclusion.” Social Forces, vol. 95, no. 3, 2017, pp. 1285–1309.
Diller, Paul A. “The Illusion of Autonomy in “Food” Litigation.” American Journal of Law & Medicine, vol. 41, no. 2-3, 2015, pp. 274–283.
Ferrell, O. C., et al. “Expectations and Attitudes Toward Gender-Based Price Discrimination.” Journal of Business Ethics, vol. 152, no. 4, 2018, pp. 1015–1032.
Gingrich, Luann G., and Lightman, Naomi. “The Empirical Measurement of a Theoretical Concept: Tracing Social Exclusion among Racial Minority and Migrant Groups in Canada.” Social inclusion, vol. 3, no. 4, 2015, pp. 98–111.
Whitaker, Tracy. R. “Banging on a Locked Door: The Persistent Role of Racial Discrimination in the Workplace.” Social Work in Public Health, 2019, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 22–27.
Sunstain, Cass R. The Ethics of Influence. Cambridge University Press, 2016.