We explain what stereotypes are, how they originated, and their functions. Also, what are its characteristics and archetypes?
What are Stereotypes?
Stereotypes are a form of simplified perception, endowed with few details, exaggerated and generalizing , that is held about a human group or a certain social category. Stereotypes are always addressed in the plural and attribute to an individual the supposedly mandatory characteristics of the group to which he belongs.
Stereotypes are usually based on illogical beliefs, prejudices and behavior models , often inherited from previous generations or imposed by public opinion, which precede real contact with the stereotyped others. In that sense, they are related to clichés and caricatures, since they work with recognizable archetypes that often come from social stereotypes.
These preconstructed schemes that are stereotypes are sometimes manifested unconsciously , since they are learned in ways that are not always explicit, so they can be a vehicle for racial or class ideologies.
Characteristics of stereotypes :
Stereotypes refer to the lead models that were used in the printing press.
Originally, the stereotypes were lead models used in the printing press to form the types or letters . Hence, they have been taken as a metaphor for those figures that, precisely, operate as a lead mold for thought , fixing the same characteristics beforehand.
Stereotypes play a cognitive and social role as computer , since they give us the feeling that the world is ordered based on our prejudices or previous considerations. In this way, they allow us to handle reality in a simpler and faster way, resorting to learned considerations.
The problem with this is, precisely, that they are not based on direct experience, but on transmitted judgments , and therefore are usually full of hostility towards disadvantaged classes or social groups, and approval by the favored, thus fulfilling a role segregationist and hindering our relationship with the other.
Many stereotypes often lead to racism.
The use of stereotypes in the press or as opinion shapers is a dangerous and suspicious tool today, since it mobilizes the masses towards a determined and often unfounded affectivity, instead of fostering understanding and respect among peers.
Racial stereotypes, for example, often lead to racism ; cultural stereotypes, to xenophobia; etc. That is why today the term “stereotype” has a rather negative assessment, reserved for those opinions or caricature speeches.
Types of stereotype
Gender stereotypes are based on sexual preference.
There are many forms of stereotyping, reducing people to a supposed basic set of characteristics, usually centered around a specific condition of the person:
- Racial stereotypes. Those that emphasize belonging to a racial group, and therefore impose moral or ethical characteristics on the individual. For example: “Blacks are strong and weak. The industrious and honest whites”.
- class stereotypes. Those that are made from belonging to a particular social class . For example: “The poor are dishonest. The rich are honest.”
- political stereotypes. Those who adhere to a political party or a certain ideology. For example: “Feminists are unhappy women. The communists are lazy.
- gender stereotypes. Those that are elaborated with respect to sexual or gender preference. For example: “Homosexuals are happy and festive. Women are weak and irrational.”
A common cliché is the appearance of villains in movies and cartoons.
The term cliché comes from French, a language in which it means “stereotype” . Its use, however, has spread in the fields of fictional or journalistic representation, to refer to commonplaces: characters or situations often seen in culture and that serve to quickly refer to a conventional set of senses and meanings.
For example, a clichéd or stereotyped villain in a cartoon will exhibit certain physical traits traditionally considered evil: long mustaches, a certain way of speaking, a certain way of laughing, certain specific plans (such as the destruction of the world).
Stereotypes are transmitted culturally, through upbringing (copying parental patterns) , schooling and formal education , media discourse, mass literature , advertising , etc.
For a stereotype to be such, it must be massively accepted by a given human community . This implies that it is part of public discourses, that it can be found in public opinion or in everyday discourses such as humor (both press caricatures and personal jokes).
A stereotyped father reproduces a fixed, standard model of a father.
The difference between stereotypes and archetypes has to do with the fact that the latter come from very primary cultural elaborations , that is, archaic redoubts of our primitive cultures, which survive in the contemporary one.
The father archetypes, for example, are diverse but more or less similar forms that explore the meanings traditionally associated with the father. Instead, a stereotyped father reproduces a fixed, standard model of a father.
Stereotypes reduce the anxiety produced by the unknown.
Stereotypes are appeasing speeches, that is, calming: they reduce the anguish that the unknown, the new, gives us, giving us a supposed prior knowledge about it so as not to approach it empty-handed. But they also appease social change , since they impose a model of relationships that is already ordered from which it is difficult to leave in order to conceive another way of thinking about societies .
The new age of technology has created new stereotypes like gamers.
The arrival of the Internet and culture 2.0 has fostered the creation of new forms of stereotype , among which are: the geek , the nerd , the gamer , the otaku , the hipster , the millennial , etc.
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