“Social dominance theory was put forth by two researchers, Jim Sidanius and Felicia Pratto, in 1999. Specifically, Sidanius and Pratto attempted to explain how, and why, social structures seemed to be supported by an unspoken hierarchy of groups based on a number of different traits. These multiple hierarchies may be based on gender, race, age, economic status, and other characteristics – either naturally recurring or obtained.
According to social dominance theory, these hierarchies influence how equitable the allocation of resources is and how the distribution of undesirable work and/or roles are assigned.”
Source: Social Dominance Theory: Definition & Examples
A small (3 page) outline of the theory is available here.
From the outline: ” … Moreover, societies recognize the legal rights of dominants and portray their ways of living as virtuous and characteristic of the whole society, whereas subordinates receive little social recognition and are even stigmatized. Group dominance societies also feature an intersecting kind of group oppression, namely sexism, men holding disproportionate power and freedoms compared with women, and heterosexism being privileged over other kinds of sexuality”
This is very interesting in the context of the current political climate. Particularly in how religious groups jockey for privileged status in everything from opposing non-discrimination statutes (when they regard other groups), to extraordinary tax benefits.
This can be seen in a rather shocking way when you create a comparative scale of priorities where values are assigned to events which affect the in-group vs. the out-group. Consider the War on Christmas, or the bakers who might suffer the heinous fate of having to write Happy Wedding! on a cake for a gay couple. This mindset allows for writing on a cake to be classed as utterly intolerable while at the same time excusing egregious acts suffered by other groups. And by egregious I mean things like the defence of apartheid in South Africa, the support for the death penalty or life imprisonment for gays in Uganda and so forth.