Subordinate Debilitating Behavior
The saddest effects of social stratification are behaviors by societal subordinates that reinforce their status.
Subordinates will engage in activities that are both directly and indirectly harmful to them at higher rates and with greater intensity than dominants. ~ Jim Sidanius & Felica Pratto
Parenting styles are generally related to social status. Low-status parents tend to use more physical punishment and practice more directive, authoritarian, and punitive child-rearing than higher-class parents.
Subordinate children also receive less mental stimulation because their parents are less likely to read to them, expose them to books and other reading materials, and even engage them in conversation. Reading habits and conversational skill are associated with academic achievement which low-status subordinates lack.
Children in subordinate groups are much more likely to spend time in passive activities, such as watching TV. Black American children watch almost twice as much TV as white youngsters at all levels of parental education.
Excessive television viewing has been correlated to poor school performance. Further, extensive exposure to this paracosm readily leads to low self-esteem and out-group favoritism by reinforcing a child’s neglected state.
Subordinate-group offspring are more likely to be neglected and abused. This corresponds with greater spousal abuse in low-status groups, owing to higher levels of stress associated with privation as well as other causal factors.
Educational achievement is the sine qua non for adult occupational opportunities. Unsurprisingly, dominant groups outperform subordinates educationally: a generalization validated by studies in many countries worldwide.
Inferior academic performance partly owes to self-debilitating behavior: subordinates have higher rates of school truancy, are more remiss in their homework, and drop out of school earlier.
Cultural beliefs influence behaviors in ways that influence intergroup relations. Whereas students who believe that hard work leads to success study more, those who believe that fate has dealt them a bad hand which cannot be overcome resign themselves to poor results.
Stereotypes also influence academic outcomes. In the US, the stereotype that blacks are naturally intellectually inferior remains widespread. This stereotype can undermine the school performance of blacks by making it part of the hurdle they must overcome when being evaluated.
A similar stereotypical gender bias exists for girls studying math, science, or technology. As beliefs color the world, stereotypes tend to be self-fulling prophecies.
One study found that black students did better on IQ tests when they believed the tests were measuring hand-eye coordination. Similarly, blacks performed better when they believed that their scores were to be compared to those of other blacks than when they thought their results would be compared with whites.
When black students were reminded of their ethnicity, their performance scores were significantly worse than the scores of both white students and black students who were not reminded of their race. ~ Felicia Pratto & Jim Sidanius
Women’s tolerance of sexism smacks of out-group favoritism, and even self-debilitating behavior. But, as with any subordinate group, rebelling against a social system invariably bears a cost. As that cost can be incalculable compared with acquiescence, stratification endures.