Hello and welcome, @christineoehme!
This is a recurring theme in Edgeryders. The whole social cohesion industry is based on the notion of “vulnerable groups”. People belong to such groups if they bear the markers of some kind of disadvantage, for example the dark (or light) skin of an ethnic minority, or a physical or mental disability. Belonging to vulnerable groups can be temporary: for example, there is a group called “the unemployed”, thought to merit special care, even though no one is born into this group.
Like many people around here, I dislike the notion. There are two problems:
- Labelling. People are included in a "vulnerable group" by somone sticking a label on them. I am a migrant. You are a female. He is transgender. The labels are not incorrect, but they imply that my having migrated is what is important about me. When providing care, the label will be inspiring the design of the services that target me.
- "Representative agent". Once they have a group to service, care providers set up services with the average component of that group in mind. This activity misses out on the richness of human diversity, and it usually ends up mass-producing services that suck.
Right now, we are seeing the damage done by this concept in the so-called migrants issue in Europe. A Syrian doctor (or engineer, or carpenter) is labeled a refugee and stuck in a camp, where another doctor (European) will assess his health. He might be ten times more experienced than his European colleague, but he is not allowed to diagnose himself and others because – guess what – in that context he “is” a not a doctor, but a refugee.
@alex_levene told me a funny-heartbreaking story from The Jungle (check out his post, it’s really interesting). He talked to an Afghan guy in the camp. He fled Afghanistan because he is an atheist, and that’s led him to trouble. He wants to live in a place where agnosticism is common, bigotry can’t touch him and nobody cares what you pray to. And there he is, in a refugee camp, surrounded by muslims, and everyone goes to great lengths to do everything in a way that will work for muslims. They assume that, since he is Afghan and the average afghan is muslim, he must be muslim: when in fact he is persecuted by muslims.