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scape•goat (sk p g t )
1. One that is made to bear the blame of others.
2. Bible A live goat over whose head Aaron confessed all the sins of the children of Israel on the Day of Atonement. The goat, symbolically bearing their sins, was then sent into the wilderness.
tr.v. scape•goat•ed, scape•goat•ing, scape•goats
To make a scapegoat of.
Heroes of the Fiery Cross 1928 Publisher: Pillar of Fire ChurchScapegoating is an important tool of propaganda; the most famous example in modern history is the singling out in Nazi propaganda of the Jews as the source of Germany's post-World War I economic woes and political collapse.
Scapegoating is often more devastating when applied to a minority group as they are inherently less able to defend themselves. A tactic often employed is to characterize an entire group of individuals according to the unethical or immoral conduct of a small number of individuals belonging to that group, also known as guilt by association.
"Scapegoated" groups throughout history have included almost every imaginable group of people: adherents of different religions, people of different races or nations, 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.
In industrialised societies, scapegoating of traditional minority groups is increasingly frowned upon.
Mobbing is a form of sociological scapegoating which occurs in the workplace. A summary of research on workplace mobbing by Kenneth Westhues, Prof. of Sociology University of Waterloo, published in OHS Canada, Canada's Occupational Health & Safety Magazine, Vol. 18, No. 8, December 2002, pp. 30–36.
"Scapegoating is an effective if temporary means of achieving group solidarity, when it cannot be achieved in a more constructive way. It is a turning inward, a diversion of energy away from serving nebulous external purposes toward the deliciously clear, specific goal of ruining a disliked co-worker's life. ... Mobbing can be understood as the stressor to beat all stressors. It is an impassioned, collective campaign by co-workers to exclude, punish, and humiliate a targeted worker. Initiated most often by a person in a position of power or influence, mobbing is a desperate urge to crush and eliminate the target. The urge travels through the workplace like a virus, infecting one person after another. The target comes to be viewed as absolutely abhorrent, with no redeeming qualities, outside the circle of acceptance and respectability, deserving only of contempt. As the campaign proceeds, a steadily larger range of hostile ploys and communications comes to be seen as legitimate."
Dehumanization is the process by which members of a group of people assert the "inferiority" of another group through subtle or overt acts or statements. Dehumanization may be directed by an organization (such as a state) or may be the composite of individual sentiments and actions, as with some types of de facto racism. State-organized dehumanization has been directed against perceived racial or ethnic groups, nationalities (or "foreigners" in general), religious groups, genders, minorities of various sexual orientations (eg. homosexuals), disabled people as a class, economic [e.g. the homeless] and social classes, and many other groups.
de•mon•ize (d m -n z )
tr.v. de•mon•ized, de•mon•iz•ing, de•mon•iz•es
1. To turn into or as if into a demon.
2. To possess by or as if by a demon.
3. To represent as evil or diabolic: wartime propaganda that demonizes the enemy.
de mon•i•za tion (-m -n -z sh n) n.