Drawing on literatures from gender, race, disability and queer theory, this chapter identifies shared themes and aims to develop a generic understanding of discrimination. Discrimination can be understood as misrecognition, raising questions about where identity comes from – whether characteristics originate in biological make-up or are externally created and attributed - how it is conveyed and what could be done to increase accuracy. Negative attitudes create distortions; diminishing (Thompson 1998) or demonizing. Oppression can be understood as enforced identity distortion; a cause of exclusion or requirement for inclusion. Identity may be understood via indicators of having, being and doing as well as contextual factors. The case for and against social categorization is explored, along with scope for cross-group alliances offered by multiple characteristics. Using different discourses, the literatures argue that inequalities arise consequent on the structure and culture of society as defined by dominant groups (social model). They refute biological/genetic explanations (individual/medical model). An interactive model draws attention to the process through which individuals interact with their environment. This suggests 3 sites for ‘adjustment’ to maximize social inclusion: the removal of social barriers, increasing individuals’ resources and reducing scope for misrecognition within distributive processes.
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