- Date: 15th century
- 1 a : the period before attainment of majority
- b : the state of being a legal minor
- 2 : the smaller in number of two groups constituting a whole; specifically : a group having less than the number of votes necessary for control
- 3 a : a part of a population differing from others in some characteristics and often subjected to differential treatment
- b : a member of a minority group <an effort to hire more minorities>
A minority is a sociological group that does not constitute a politically dominant voting majority of the total population of a given society. A sociological minority is not necessarily a numerical minority — it may include any group that is subnormal with respect to a dominant group in terms of social status, education, employment, wealth and political power. To avoid confusion, some writers prefer the terms "subordinate group" and "dominant group" rather than "minority" and "majority", respectively. In socioeconomics, the term "minority" typically refers to a socially subordinate ethnic group (understood in terms of language, nationality, religion and/or culture). Other minority groups include people with disabilities, "economic minorities" (working poor or unemployed), "age minorities" (who are younger or older than a typical working age) and sexual minorities.
The term "minority group" often occurs alongside a discourse of civil rights and collective rights which gained prominence in the 20th century. Members of minority groups are prone to different treatment in the countries and societies in which they live. This discrimination may be directly based on an individual's perceived membership of a minority group, without consideration of that individual's personal achievement. It may also occur indirectly, due to social structures that are not equally accessible to all. Activists campaigning on a range of issues may use the language of minority rights, including student rights, consumer rights and animal rights. In recent years, some members of social groups traditionally perceived as dominant have attempted to present themselves as an oppressed minority, such as white, middle-class heterosexual males.