Are they all the same?

A common argument against not wearing a school uniform is that children will get bullied for not wearing ‘cool’ brands, and this is unfair on those who cannot afford them. While this maybe a factor, why should we accept this degrading behaviour as normal? By enforcing a uniform upon school children, the idea that the bullying is the fault of those who are different is reinforced, as is the idea that the only way to solve the problem is by making everyone look the same. We need to encourage the mixing of groups in our children, instead of eradicating diversity completely.

Humans seem to naturally put themselves into groups; in-groups are identified with favourably, whereas out-groups are perceived as being inferior or threatening. Coming back to the example of schools, those people who all wear Nike on a non uniform day are more likely to view each other favourably, and consequently are more likely to be degrading to those who aren’t. While this may seem like a trivial example, the same idea can be used in other areas of our society. For example, many news outlets use headlines which denounce immigrants, causing us to see ourselves in terms of the British in-group, or the foreign out-group. Viewing our society in this way can cause some of those in the in-group to feel like they have more rights than the out-group, and can also lead to dehumanisation of the out-group which can cause derogatory behaviour. Again, this reinforces the idea that those who are different are in the wrong, and that behaviour towards them is their fault.

So if these groups are part of human nature, is it possible to effectively integrate different groups without making everybody the same? It definitely is, but it will require a shift in attitude not only by ourselves, but by the corporate news outlets who define how we view the world. In my opinion, the main idea which needs to change is out-group homogeneity. This is where people perceive those in their own in-group as diverse individuals, but those in the out-group as being all the same. It is this attitude which lead to erroneous stereotypes, and prejudice against certain types of people. We need to be able to look past a person’s defining characteristic, whether this is their ethnicity, gender, religion or the clothes that they wear, and see them as individuals like yourself. This shift in attitude needs to happen straight away, because the longer it goes on, the more polarised opposite groups will become.

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3 responses to “Are they all the same?”

  1. Fazal Abbas says :

    A very thought provoking and enlightening read.

  2. beetleypete says :

    This is an interesting argument, against the normally accepted point of school uniform creating equality. It made me think about the subject for the first time in years.
    I wore school uniform during the 1960’s, and was proud to have it at the time. It was certainly better than any clothes I would have had to wear otherwise. It is a fallacy that it is a cheaper option though. With only certain shops designated as suppliers, they can charge what they like. These days, with Primark, and supermarkets selling clothes, I feel it would be a lot cheaper for poorer parents not to have to buy uniform.
    Outside school, I did keep the theme going though. As I got older, I dressed in Mod clothes, and so continued to be part of a group, even out of official uniform. Regards, Pete.

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