What does minority mean?

This is a bet between me and a friend.

He believes that minority means a smaller number of people, which would be the result of their oppression or different treatment. So he does not believe that women in America are a minority and he does not believe that Blacks in South Africa are a minority.

I believe that minority can also mean a group of people that are not the dominate group in a country no matter the size. So women could be considered a minority in America and in South Africa, black people could be considered a minority since their group is not dominate.

Who would be more right?

I’d say him.

Minority means significantly less than 50%.

When he says “minority”, he means “minority”. When you say “minority”, you mean “disenfranchised group”. The two are not synonymous–he’s right.

In political terms, Skully, you are absolutely correct.

Minority, like most others English words, has a variety of meanings for use in different contexts.

From dictionary.com:

You are using it in sense 2.b. Your friend is sorta using it in sense 2.a. with a bit of 1.a. thrown in.

In your context you are correct. Women in the U.S. have been complaining of their minority political status since the Revolution. Blacks under apartheid obviously had no politcal powers, no matter what their numbers were.

I guess effectively “minority” means the non-white, non-Asian.

Example: California

Asians make up about 11% of the state population.

After the passage of Proposition 209, the number of “minorities” enrolling at UC Berkeley rapidly decreased. Yet around that time the number of Asians (only roughly 1/10th the state population, which ought to qualify them as a “minority”) jumped to well over 40% of the student body.

If “minority” was only about percentage of population, the percentage of minorities at UC Berkeley may have increased during that period, or at worst stayed the same.

But that’s not how the demographers describe the trend.

So, apparently, “minority” is applicable to only some non-majorities. I’m not sure how the distinction is made. I’ve heard the term “under-represented minority”, but what does that mean? Does that make Asians an “over-represented minority”?

Frankly, I don’t know how one could really define “minority” using this system except to call them “the dark underachievers”. Given that, I think the term should be tossed.

Why would my sociology text book say different?

Cite- http://wps.ablongman.com/ab_henslin_sociology_6/0,7314,209580-site_search_frame,00.html

Look at the third question. If you actually have the text book it makes a point about explaining that woman and blacks in South Africa are minority groups.