The belief that social differences between groups are a result of biological differences between them.
Defining a group of people by one -- or a small set of -- fixed properties. Gender, religion, race or sexual orientation are the most common properties. It assumes that there is no possibility of variation within the targeted group, or potential for change. See racism, sexism, religism and homophobia.
is now increasingly used in order to explain why anti-essentialism is preferable, though in more purely philosophical discussion the term has greater usefulness. Amongst social and cultural researchers, anti-essentialism involves the rejection of a scientific quest for universal essences, such as the discovery of a universal psychological makeup, or generally applicable sex differences, in preference for a view that human `nature' is a social construction.