The Role of Stereotypes in Our Society

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The role of stereotypes in society

“Wha a gu on?” “Wat’s up?” “Que pasa?” “Hoe gaat het?” Wat’s popping?” “Sak pase?” “How are you?” These phrases all have something in common, that is they are all greetings in different dialects or what is termed “slang.” They all ask the same thing but if you don’t speak the corresponding language or “slang” the average person would not know what is being said or how to respond. In essence if you don’t understand the relevance or parlance you are outside, apart or isolated from those who do. This aspect of cultural stereotyping is the separation of them and us; that is thinking that our norms and practices are distinctly different or superior to those of other groups. Why do we want or need this separation from others, to group ourselves in a way that makes us distinctly different? It is a part of human nature or trait that make us want to belong to a group, to be able to connect with others who are similar and have the same beliefs; this is what makes us separate ourselves into groups.

This type of stereotyping is not inherently wrong, it is generalized and misinformed; it is also society’s way to handle the unknown, new people and situations. Imagine one day you walk to your car after work and there is a lion sitting on the hood, would you try to find out if it is tame or would you just see the lion and run leaving your car behind? That is stereotyping in a nutshell, and it is the way we summarize things we are unfamiliar with.

I stereotype every day, mostly unconsciously; I mean no harm or insult to anyone most of the time. I do it to negotiate my trip to work and school, when I go to the mall, when I pick a book to read, in many different ways I stereotype and most of the times I do not notice my own behavior. This is a simplistic explanation but it shows how simple it is and how we all do it.

Stereotyping can then be interpreted as mental categorizing. Just by crossing the street or giving...
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