A Stereotype: Every Day Practice
In the US, the issue of stereotyping still remains a problem in the society despite the evident activism and advocacy for equality and no tolerance to discrimination of any form.
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Since stereotyping is an everyday practice, it is imperative to know where the stereotyping starts. Social inequality is a reflection of human belief that deviance is not an odd personality characteristic but rather a behavior committed against other people in a community.
This practice also involves the belief that some personalities are socially disadvantaged because of their life situations. Consequently, social inequality applies to several life situations like poverty, gender, skin color (race), health among other conditions, as confirmed in BBC news by Field (Dec. 3 2010).
Stereotypes form the basis of this discussion. Stereotypes refer to standardized mental perceptions held common by a certain group of people.
These stereotypes often represent oversimplified viewpoints, chauvinist attitude and belittling judgment about certain individuals in a community. Stereotyping is not usually accurate. It depends on meanings people create.
A serious problem has been stereotyping people with mental illness. This stereotyping mostly causes stigma because of labeling the stereotyped individuals in the society.
Mentally ill people bear labels such as ‘schizos’ ‘retards’ and or ‘psychos’. This labeling portrays such individuals as being lunatics hence another label as ‘loony’ and are hence segregated from normal people.
Stereotyped people feel ashamed, worthless and are emotionally hurt. It is shocking how easy a society mocks a person with mental illness and not one with physical disability. The society wrongly perceives the mental condition as a choice rather than a legitimate sickness.
One of the main concepts discussed by Field in his Parenting not Income Key to Tackling Social Inequality is ‘Power’. For clarity, the everyday practice herein discussed is stereotype while the concept is power that he refers to as ‘class differences’.
He uses children to symbolize the inferior stereotyped group of people. Stereotyping has become a serious social problem developing from everyday practices. These practices arise from social agreements and traditions.
Usually, these stereotypes develop from very long historical backgrounds. It is on this backdrop notion that stereotypes gain their perpetual power of validity to a symbolic and speech expressions done against a certain group deemed deviant.
This gives the perpetrators of stereotype some power over the victims they demean by speaking or acting in a manner that degrades the victims’ self-esteem.
In most cases, for the stereotypes to have that generalized acceptance, a larger percentage of a community has to share it either explicitly or implicitly. This translates to mean that the larger the community, the bigger the prejudice.
Stereotype is a deceptive simple labeling of certain individuals or groups, adopting and limiting how the society perceives them, For instance, people with mental disabilities.
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Social inequality hence relies on the meanings that the society attach to these stereotypes causing stereotypes individuals to be labeled deviant. It may not be entirely because of their actions but mainly because the dominant powers perceive them so.
There is the presumption that a person previously hospitalized for mental illness is a violence risky person. These definitions show that stereotypes are in most cases merely simplified notions of people and not perceptions derived from objective facts. Hence stereotyping tends to make normal people seem superior to those with perceived deviant condition.
There exists a direct relationship or rather a positive correlation between power and stereotyping. The more powerful a group is in relation to another, the more stereotyped the inferior group.
Power relations drive stereotypes in any society. People accept the stereotypic notions against a demeaned individual or a group of people as truths.
Thus, they do not consider them as problematic unless the individual or the group entirely manifests its human characteristics. As individuals or groups’ relative power increases, it can occasionally stop society’s propagation of deliberate stereotype against it.
There are many paradoxes in stereotyping, all of which are analytically helpful. When a group of people creates stereotypes for managing its perception of others, impassive observers are able to understand the compact suppositions that direct that group’s way of thinking.
The main point is that, stereotype, regardless of the victims, depends on composite images to portray what people view as the essence of a social group (Grinberg CNN News Oct. 26 2011).
This usually happens in cases of unequal power relations like the struggle for supremacy between men and women, superior race contestation, etc.
Of course, not all superior groups have power like “all whites” and “all men”. However, collectively, white people have power over black people and Men have power over women because of stereotypes against groups.
Stereotyping often isolates a certain unreal characteristic of the target group and then portrays it differently as a group. This usually communicates more about the stereotype inventor’s need than the victim’s nature.
For instance, one community portraying women in the next community as entirely mothers can be extremely worried of its nurturing capability. This evidently shows that stereotype is a power struggle between a superior group and a minority group.
Though incorrect stereotyping can only result in inefficient decisions but also sternly impede progression of minority position individuals, the society confronts these obstinate problems.
Firstly, human beings rely on these stereotypes to draw sense from the world and hence eliminating these stereotypes is an uphill task. Secondly, the stereotypes seem unresponsive to change or societal modification because they help deal with inner conflict and insecurities.
Stereotypes maintain basic values about an individual’s or group of people’s societal roles and power relations. They hence offer a framework of judging character.
Historically, the primary categorization of people into groupings resulted into the assignment of social status based on powers relations. People assign different groups either a positive or a negative stereotype, or an in-group and out-group status.
This in turn, leads to differing performance expectations for people in other groups. Usually, people expect the high status group to organize and take charge, as the low status group does the assigned duties of supporting the high status group. To maintain the status quo, they normally ignore new information that does not fit into their acuity.
Categorization affects individuals in two unique ways. First, behavior is affected. This way, willingness and level of working is different for the high and low status groups.
Second, this also affects cognition, as well as the way people think (Field BBC News Sep. 3 2011). The causes to which success and failure is attributed are essential to subsequent performances.
High status group is made confident and adequately prepared to handle certain tasks while low status group is considered inadequately prepared for these challenges. Stereotyping is hence a power struggle for the powerful remain powerful.
Unequal Power Relations and Social Inequality
The social identity theory purports that, in stereotype cases, the members of lower status face inconsistencies between universal motivations to view the in-group positively.
The truth for their group compares unfavorably to high status people. The individual’s perception of the legitimacy of the claims caused them to accept or try to change the Unequal power relations by sharing the power.
Members beings stereotyped against are hence more likely to take active measures against social inequality with the out-group when they believe the measure are highly likelihood of succeeding.
They will struggle against social inequality when they view the unequal power relations are illegitimate and, therefore, unstable. For instance, in a male dominated organization, women selected to hold positions based on gender and given timely news that they secured the positions because of their credentials chose more authoritative tasks compared to women selected because of affirmative action.
Conversely, members of a lower status in unequal power relations are likely to accept and comply when they perceive it to be legitimate and, therefore, stable.
They would not try to change it. Such members will accept the lower status and remain dependent on the higher status group deemed superior.
Stereotype is a fundamental type or representation in power relations since it shows or rather exposes power struggles and attitudes against a category of people in a certain community during a certain period.
Stereotyping others is an ideological process, which marks essential societal arrangements designed in the interests of powerful individuals.
Stereotypes make these societal organizations seem natural instead of cultural. Hence stereotyping is a strategy among people used to secure power and influence of the dominant groups in society.
Field, Frank. Parenting not Income Key to Tackling Inequality, BBC News, 2010. Web. <https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-11903735>
Grinberg, Emmanuella. We are a Culture, not a Custom. CNN News, 2011. Web. <https://edition.cnn.com/2011/10/26/living/halloween-ethnic-costumes/index.html>