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Concept of Social Stereotypes in Modern Society Essay

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Updated: Aug 20th, 2019

Stereotypes are the constructions set by society which happen to be the gauge with which members of society measure themselves up. These designations come up due to the hierarchical structures in the society which define ones position in that society and mostly are based on prejudice. They are based on judgments and that it is time that brings them out (New 577).

For instance there is the social stratification whereby a person either belongs to the higher social status (superior) or the low social class (inferior). Both groups have got significant adjectives with which they describe the other. For example, those in the high social class describe those from the low class as stupid, lazy and lots of other negative adjectives. On the other hand those in the high social class are thought to be hard working, intelligent and so many other positive adjectives.

Structures of power in society do to a great deal influence stereotyping in society. For instance the case of Coffey and his family are immigrants into Canada in Brian Moore’s novel The Luck of Ginger Coffey. Having settled in Canada, as a people of the immigrant community, they are visitors and therefore proximity to job opportunities are quite a challenge. This is worsened by the educational background of Ginger (New 577).

Therefore it can be seen that a person’s level of education can be a determinant in the kind of job opportunities to his or her exposure. Education is given a priority to be a determinant of the kind of job an individual can access. Society has therefore stereotyped good jobs for instance white collar jobs to be available to those with high academic qualifications and those without qualification or less qualification get blue collar jobs. This inequality of power leads to social stereotyping of job opportunities.

Gender constructions are also designed by society whereby the society decides on who is to do what and to what extent thus pointing to behaviors in society. For example, in the family set up, a man is the expected breadwinner of the family and therefore when a family fails to achieve success in the social structure, then the man is the one to be blamed for that family’s failure.

The expectations of society are therefore reflected in behavior, values exhibited by both men and women, roles played by both genders both of which have got no sexual or biological affiliations (New 575).

By not being able to provide adequately for his family, Ginger can be seen as a failed man and thus failed marriage because his wife goes ahead and gets married to Gerry Grosvenor who is better placed to take care of her more than Ginger can. A man is therefore depicted as the one who is to determine the direction which his family is to take in view of being economically stable.

The family of Ginger thinks that life on the other side of Montreal is far much better than life in Ireland. This leads to their relocation from Ireland to Canada. Their expectations are so high such that they expect life to turn out to be good overnight. On the contrary this never happens. This can be associated with the common analogue “living the American dream” whereby successful life is thought to be automatic with crossing the boarders into the “promised land” but once they get there; life turns out for the worst.

They are not only met by the culture shock but also with the expensiveness that comes with adopting to the schedules of life there. In six months, life has not changed for this family and even after trying so much it is not getting any better (New 608). This applies to the present times whereby, life in the western countries has been stereotyped to be better than life in the other parts of the world which has led to the influx of people to the western countries.

But once immigrants get there, it turns out to be as difficult as they could have never imagined more especially when it comes to settling down and getting jobs. It is even worse when whole families relocate to these western countries. Life in the long run turns out to be a nightmare. Ginger and his family therefore find life difficult and struggle for survival doing odd jobs here and there.

The Irish people are also thought to be nationalistic and Catholicism, therefore Grosvenor expects that all Irish people behave and act in the same way: “bigoted, untrustworthy and conventional and also imaginative, romantic and creative (New 582)”. The stereotyped typical Irish man has therefore both the positive and negative attributes.

The negative attributes are seen through the people Grosvenor meets before the Coffeys and the positive attributes are seen through the Coffeys.Those before the Coffeys are seen to be staunch Nationalists as well as practice Catholicism strictly. This explains the character associated with a particular group of people especially through their character towards what they strongly believe in.

As illustrated in the story, the Irish people are associated with Catholicism and which maybe could have been taken negatively by other people in society who might have originated from other backgrounds. Religion in this context is therefore seen to be associated with a particular group of people which distinguishes them from other people. Patriotism on the other hand is helping bring out the character trait of the Irish as being nationalistic therefore explaining the fact about social stereotyping.

The social context during which this text was written prescribed gender roles and dictated the roles of both men and women in society. When the Ginger family moved to Montreal, Ginger aimed at supporting and providing for his family adequately and also making something for himself (New 583), Veronica sees him as the one to support the family and Paulie thinks that daddies are the ones to get jobs in order to support their families.

This is the reason why he is ready to work hard to please his daughter and wife. He is determined that things are going to be okay someday and holds on to the hope that he will become a journalist and be able to win his wife back. So when Veronica shows concern over getting a job, he does not like the idea and thinks that her role should be as a home maker because that is what society had conspired to make women to be.

Ginger resents the fact that Veronica has gotten a job as a sales lady; he even says that she won’t find it easy trying to become a bread winner. Therefore, we can say that at the time it was quite unrealistic for a woman to feed her family because society had defined gender roles belonging to both males and females that is why it was not easy for Ginger to be convinced that his wife could leave the confines of home and go out to work.

Veronica finds financial independence and freedom when she is able to provide for her family for example buying new things for Paulie and generally providing for the whole family in general. This upsets Ginger so much but nonetheless her family becomes economically and financially liberated.

She can now afford a new look as well because she has got good clothes and to crown it all has occupied a new space in a new cultural context. This helps bring out a lot more different meaning to gender roles in society. This family now with the help of Veronica is far much better off than it was before she got a job (New 591) this can best shade light on the importance of both men and women striving to compliment each other in all aspects so as to help in the bringing up of a family.

Society should therefore allow both men and women play equal roles where possible in order to bring this to a reality. With her own job where she is boss over her income she even changes her hair style and wore make-up which makes her a lot more sophisticated and beautiful something Ginger sees in her himself

The same society which the text portrays is a society whereby a woman should not leave her husband for another man regardless of any situation and circumstance. Faced with the threat of a failed marriage Ginger finds solace in traditional values whereby the ideal family should stick together always.

Paulie also shares in the same sentiment that “Catholics are not supposed to divorce.” With the face of problems in their marriage, Paulie acts as the link between the two of them through whom they communicate. This basically shows the importance of children in a family set up. They can help in solving problems in a family and become a reason why families can be held together in the face of challenges of divorce and separation.

Society has therefore prescribed it that families, especially Christian families are to stick together. With the issue of divorce coming up, Ginger tends to blame his wife for what is happening to them, he does not see it as a problem of his making because he sees the woman as the source of the problems that face them.

Both men and women should rise above the social prejudices in order to bring out their potentialities to compliment each other for their own benefit more especially in a family set up. With the rise of feminism awareness whereby women seek to liberate themselves from the traditional yokes of pride more especially in men, they should be supported by the whole society because their position is as helpful as that of men (New 608).

As long as gender liberation is geared towards making life better for both genders, support for each other is quite necessary. In as much as religion and tradition are important as the gauge with which human life is regulated, getting to move with the times is as important too.

Gone are the days when women were considered home makers whose position was in the hose for their children and in the kitchen for their husbands, that men were to go out o fend for their families, but in the advent of education also as a leveling ground that determines an individuals position in society, women are getting liberated each passing day and therefore men should be ready to accommodate them.

Social stereotypes designed by human beings should also not be taken as the ultimate mirrors with which life should be measured against. Men were thought to be the stereotypes that were to provide for their families but Veronica proved otherwise and made life for her better than it was before.

Works Cited

New, William. Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada. University of Toronto. Toronto 2002

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