Scapegoating (from the verb "to scapegoat") is the practice of singling out any party for unmerited negative treatment or blame as a scapegoat. Scapegoating may be conducted by individuals against individuals (e.g. "he did it, not me!"), individuals against groups (e.g., "I couldn't see anything because of all the tall people"), groups against individuals (e.g., "Jane was the reason our team didn't win"), and groups against groups.
At the individual level
A medical definition of scapegoating is:
- "Process in which the mechanisms of projection or displacement are utilized in focusing feelings of aggression, hostility, frustration, etc., upon another individual or group; the amount of blame being unwarranted."
Scapegoating is a tactic often employed to characterize an entire group of individuals according to the unethical or immoral conduct of a small number of individuals belonging to that group. Scapegoating relates to guilt by association and stereotyping.
Scapegoated groups throughout history have included almost every imaginable group of people: genders, religions, people of different races, nations, or sexual orientations, people with different political beliefs, or people differing in behaviour from the majority. However, scapegoating may also be applied to organizations, such as governments, corporations, or various political groups.
Unwanted thoughts and feelings can be unconsciously projected onto another who becomes a scapegoat for one's own problems. This concept can be extended to projection by groups. In this case the chosen individual, or group, becomes the scapegoat for the group's problems. "Political agitation in all countries is full of such projections, just as much as the backyard gossip of little groups and individuals." Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung considered indeed that "there must be some people who behave in the wrong way; they act as scapegoats and objects of interest for the normal ones".
At the group level
The scapegoat theory of intergroup conflict provides an explanation for the correlation between times of relative economic despair and increases in prejudice and violence toward outgroups. Studies of anti-black violence in the southern US between 1882 and 1930 show a correlation between poor economic conditions and outbreaks of violence (e.g., lynchings) against blacks. The correlation between the price of cotton (the principal product of the area at that time) and the number of lynchings of black men by whites ranged from -0.63 to -0.72, suggesting that a poor economy induced white people to take out their frustrations by attacking an outgroup.
Scapegoating as a group necessitates that ingroup members settle on one specific target to blame for their problems. Scapegoating is also more likely to appear when a group has experienced difficult, prolonged negative experiences (as opposed to minor annoyances). When negative conditions frustrate a group's attempts at successful acquisition of its most essential needs (e.g., food, shelter), groups develop a compelling, shared ideology that - when combined with social and political pressures - may lead to the most extreme form of scapegoating: genocide.
Scapegoating can also cause oppressed groups to lash out at other oppressed groups. Even when injustices are committed against a minority group by the majority group, minorities sometimes lash out against a different minority group in lieu of confronting the more powerful majority.
In management: Scapegoating is a known practice in management where a lower staff employee is blamed for the mistakes of senior executives. This is often due to lack of accountability in upper management.
The "scapegoat mechanism" in philosophical anthropology
Literary critic and philosopher Kenneth Burke first coined and described the expression "scapegoat mechanism" in his books Permanence and Change (1935), and A Grammar of Motives (1945). These works influenced some philosophical anthropologists, such as Ernest Becker and René Girard. Girard developed the concept much more extensively as an interpretation of human culture. In Girard's view, it is humankind, not God, who has need for various forms of atoning violence. Humans are driven by desire for that which another has or wants (mimetic desire). This causes a triangulation of desire and results in conflict between the desiring parties. This mimetic contagion increases to a point where society is at risk; it is at this point that the scapegoat mechanism is triggered. This is the point where one person is singled out as the cause of the trouble and is expelled or killed by the group. This person is the scapegoat. Social order is restored as people are contented that they have solved the cause of their problems by removing the scapegoated individual, and the cycle begins again. The keyword here is "content". Scapegoating serves as a psychological relief for a group of people. Girard contends that this is what happened in the narrative of Jesus of Nazareth, the central figure in Christianity. The difference between the scapegoating of Jesus and others, Girard believes, is that in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, he is shown to be an innocent victim; humanity is thus made aware of its violent tendencies and the cycle is broken. Thus Girard's work is significant as a reconstruction of the Christus Victor atonement theory.
- "Scapegoating". Out of the FOG. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
- "scapegoating - Definition". Mondofacto.com. 1998-12-12. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
- M.-L. von Franz, in C. G. Jung, Man and his Symbols (London 1964) p. 181
- C. G Jung, Analytical Psychology (London 1976) p. 108
- Poppe, Edwin (2001). "Effects of changes in GNP and perceived group characteristics on national and ethnic stereotypes in central and eastern Europe.". Journal of Applied Social Psychology. 31 (8): 1689–1708. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2001.tb02746.x.
- Hovland, C. I.; Sears, R. R. (1940). "Minor studies of aggression: VI. Correlation of lynchings with economic indices". Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied. 9: 301–310. doi:10.1080/00223980.1940.9917696.
- Glick, Peter (2005). "Choice of Scapegoats". In Dovidio, John F.; Glick, Peter; Rudman, Laurie. On the Nature of Prejudice: Fifty Years after Allport. Blackwell Publishing. pp. 244–261. doi:10.1002/9780470773963.ch15. ISBN 9780470773963.
- The Art of Scapegoating in IT Projects PM Hut, 15 October 2009
- Mimesis - The Scapegoat Model, Jean-Baptiste Dumont
- Colman, A.D. Up from Scapegoating: Awakening Consciousness in Groups (1995)
- Douglas, Tom Scapegoats: Transferring Blame (1995)
- Dyckman, JM & Cutler JA Scapegoats at Work: Taking the Bull's-Eye Off Your Back (2003)
- Girard, René: The Scapegoat (1986)
- Perera, Sylvia Brinton Scapegoat Complex: Toward a Mythology of Shadow and Guilt (Studies in Jungian Psychology By Jungian Analysts) (1986)
- Pillari V Scapegoating in Families: Intergenerational Patterns of Physical and Emotional Abuse (1991)
- Quarmby K Scapegoat: Why We Are Failing Disabled People (2011)
- Wilcox C.W. Scapegoat: Targeted for Blame (2009)
- Zemel, Joel: Scapegoat, the extraordinary legal proceedings following the 1917 Halifax Explosion (2012)
- Binstock, R. H. (1983). "The Aged as Scapegoat". The Gerontologist. 23 (2): 136–143. doi:10.1093/geront/23.2.136. PMID 6862222.
- Boeker, Warren (1992). "Power and Managerial Dismissal: Scapegoating at the Top". Administrative Science Quarterly. 37 (3): 400–421. doi:10.2307/2393450. JSTOR 2393450.
- Gemmill, G. (1989). "The Dynamics of Scapegoating in Small Groups". Small Group Research. 20 (4): 406–418. doi:10.1177/104649648902000402.
- Katz, Irwin; Class, David C.; Cohen, Sheldon (1973). "Ambivalence, guilt, and the scapegoating of minority group victims". Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 9 (5): 423–436. doi:10.1016/S0022-1031(73)80006-X.
- Khanna, Naveen; Poulsen, Annette B. (1995). "Managers of Financially Distressed Firms: Villains or Scapegoats?". The Journal of Finance. 50 (3): 919–940. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6261.1995.tb04042.x.
- Maybee, Janet (2010). "The Persecution of Pilot Mackey" (PDF). The Northern Mariner/le marin du nord. XX (2): 149–173. ISSN 1183-112X.
- Schopler, Eric (1971). "Parents of psychotic children as scapegoats". Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy. 4 (1): 17–22. doi:10.1007/BF02110269.
- Vogel, E. F.; Bell, N. W. (1960). "The emotionally disturbed child as the family scapegoat". Psychoanalysis and the Psychoanalytic Review. 47 (2): 21–42. ISSN 0885-7830.
- Glick, Peter (2010). "Scapegoating". In Weiner, Irving B.; Craighead, W. Edward. The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology (4th ed.). John Wiley & Sons. pp. 1498–1499. doi:10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0817. ISBN 9780470479216.
- Hammer, Elliott D. (2007). "Scapegoat Theory". In Baumeister, Roy; Vohs, Kathleen. Encyclopedia of Social Psychology. SAGE Publications. doi:10.4135/9781412956253.n465. ISBN 9781412916707.
- Miller, Norman; Pollock, Vicki (2007). "Displaced Aggression". In Baumeister, Roy; Vohs, Kathleen. Encyclopedia of Social Psychology. SAGE Publications. doi:10.4135/9781412956253.n155. ISBN 9781412916707.
|Look up scapegoating in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|