The Concept of Stereotyping
In the process of any interaction between persons of different nationalities, gender, and race, people tend to construct certain images between themselves and others based on their socio and demographic differences. In fact, the association of one group with some certain characteristics that are inferior or negative not based on facts but misconceptions and prejudices amounts to stereotyping.
This hinders the integration of people based on their perceived differences. More interactively, from the perspective of socio-psychology, stereotyping involves the features with which people use when referring other people. In fact, Major et al. (1998, p.34) refer stereotyping as “the pictures that people have in their heads about other groups.”
For instance, when people encounter a violent individual from a certain nationality, they may spread the news that all people belonging to the same nationality as the person are violent. This kind of generalization hinders diversity besides leading to stigmatization, discrimination not withstanding.
This being an example of negative stereotypes, positive stereotypes may also be harmful since they truncate into limitation of attitudes of people towards a group or groups of people. The concept of stereotyping is based on three fundamental aspects. These are traits, concepts, and antecedents (Ángel, 2002, p.255). Antecedent involves feelings of being rejected or accepted at an individual level. Such feelings influence people’s behavior.
On the other hand, concepts involve the customs that a person has concerning the stereotypes that other people outside his/her group have towards his/her people, region, religion, and culture (Vorauer, Main & O’connell, 1998, p. 917) to mention a few.
This implies that people who are stereotyped presume that the version of beliefs held against their intergroup is justifiable from the basis of the impressions held by other people as opposed to out-group stereotypes. Lastly, the traits of stereotypes are contextual components, behavioral components, and cognitive components.
Brief History of Iran: The Path towards its Nuclear Program
The path leading towards the nuclear program in Iran was not a one-day decision. This means that it is characterized by Iran’s historical chronology. The program was initiated in the 1950s with the European governments and the U.S. taking central roles. It was part of the program of atoms for peace.
The involvement of these two parties did not proceed for long since it was terminated in 1979 when the Shah of Iran was toppled by the Iranian revolution. In the mid 1980’s, Khomeini regime brought up the idea for a nuclear program in secret. The plans also encompassed making preparations for acquiring the capacity to produce nuclear weapons initiated during the Shah reign.
Many political scholars immensely believe that this move was initiated by Iran’s devastation that was inflicted by Iraq due to the moves of Iraq to deploy chemical weapons in the war between the two nations. In 1990, Iran endeavored to develop her own nuclear power for the mining of uranium and its processing.
A portion of this energy was also scheduled to be utilized in the production of large amounts of water for the production of plutonium. Still in the same year, Iran also began her secretive missions of buying uranium centrifuges made by A.Q Khan. Testing of the centrifuges began in the year 2000.
Even though this process was done secretly, in 2002, the fuel action cycle of activities was publicized thus prompting the interventions of France, Britain, IAEA, and Germany.
Although the inspection conducted by these nations on Iran revealed that Iran had brought her nuclear weapons program to a halt, the presence of the U.S. military in her borders between 2003 and 2004 prompted reconsideration for the development of Iran’s nuclear capability. Upon the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the EU3’s agreements with the government of Iran to stop exploration of nuclear weapons collapsed.
Indeed, in 2009, Iran disclosed that it had a facility for uranium enrichment located at Fordow. This facility was protected such that it was less prone to missile destruction. IAEA immensely believed that the facility had been undergoing a tremendous expansion and that enrichment for uranium had already begun as from December 2011.
West’s View of Iran’s Nuclear Program
The west views the nuclear program of Iraq as a means of developing the capacity to mass-destroy people in a bid to seek the power to control the world. Since the Second World War, peace has been the main superiority of many nations all over the world. Therefore, superpower nations have a noble responsibility of ensuring that all nations hold and follow precisely the peace accord.
Thus, the west calls the world to view Iran’s missions to establish a nuclear power capability as an attempt to threaten the lives of not only the nationalities of the west but also those of all people across the globe.
The overall consequences of spreading the negativity that Iran is a threat to the international peace especially on the gulf is making the international community see Iran as being dominated by a population strategically prepared to mass-destroy lives. People have supported this line of view.
For instance, Vladimir (2010) argues, “the western expert community holds that Moscow has exercised a fundamental influence on the Iranian nuclear program besides associating Tehran with sensitive technologies in defiance of the nuclear proliferation regime” (p. 53).
Consequently, the objective of the west is to make people perceive the natives of Iran as threats to the international peace without necessarily considering that they took part in the creation of the program.
How does this amount to Stereotyping?
Considering the argument above, a central question that emerges is how the negative perception of the west towards Iranians leads to their stereotyping. One of the fundamental aspects of stereotyping is that it entails overgeneralization of certain aspects of people or nations.
While the west attempts to make the international community believe that Iran has the ability to produce nuclear weapons at a mass scale, this may not be necessarily true due to technological limitations. Arguably, following the manner in which the west wants the international community to view Iran’s nuclear power endeavors, it is presumable that Iran could actually manage to do it at some point.
Iran would not want to expose her people to dangers associated with nuclear wastes. Nations have argued based on how Iran has not yet reached the level of producing nuclear weapons to the extent of threatening the peace of other nations. Vladimir (2010), for instance, emphasizes, “Iran does not possess the production capacity to reclaim, spent nuclear fuel, and extract plutonium on the industrial scale” (p.65).
The most intriguing thing in the attempt to come to a proactive understanding of the capability of Iran to create nuclear weapons rests on the doubts of the probability of creating mega infrastructures for enrichment of uranium and production of plutonium in secret. Iran plans to extract plutonium in secretly built plants.
Consequently, the negative views on Iraq and her people instigated and propelled by the west are all attempts of instilling negative beliefs to the international communities about Iran. This leads to stereotyping besides aiding to justify the west’s interests in attacking Iran coupled with the sanctions imposed on the nation.
Effects of the Stereotype to Iran
Arguably, the west has managed to stereotype Iran as a nation inhabited by people who pose a threat to the international peace through their proliferation of nuclear weaponry. The effect of this stereotyping is the justification of the sanctions that are imposed on Iran.
Consequently, many nations have cancelled their trade treaties with Iran for importation of oil. The idea behind this is to influence the economy of Iran negatively, which is largely dependent on the exportation of oil.
Even though it may be found that Iran may not have the capacity to make nuclear weapons without the aid of the nations that give a hand in the establishment of the program, the damage is already done. This implies that it might be hard to convince people who see Iran as a country dominated by mass killers that Iran is a secure nation.
Conclusively, the many debates against the nuclear infrastructure of Iran were developed with mechanisms for putting them in place being enhanced by the U.S., Germany, and France. Other nations such as Italy, Britain, and Belgium give their hand in Iran’s nuclear program through training of the experts.
Unfortunately, these are the same nations, which want the international community people to see the nuclear program of Iran as a threat to international peace, something that has led to negative stereotyping of Iran and her people. The planted stereotype has tremendously affected Iran’s relationship with other countries and more so those that relied on Iran for oil thus affecting the economy of the country.
Ángel, G. (2002). If my group stereotypes others, others stereotype my group…and we know. Concept, research lines and future perspectives of meta-stereotypes. Revista de Psicología Social, 2002, 17(3), 253-282.
Major, B., Spencer, S., Schmader, T., Wolfe, C., & Crocker, J. (1998). Coping with negative stereotypes about intellectual performance: The role of psychological disengagement. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24(3), 34-50.
Vladimir, V. (2010). West Stereotypes of the Russian‐Iranian Cooperation in the Nuclear Field. International Politics, 3(6), 53-74.
Vorauer, D., Main, J., & O’connell, B. (1998). How Do Individuals Expect to Be Viewed by Members of Lower Status Groups? Content and Implications of Meta-Stereotypes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(4), 917-937.