I came across two very different definitions this week:
A stereotype is “…a fixed, over generalised belief about a particular group or class of people.” (Cardwell, 1996)
“The dehumanizing process [that] is necessary to feed the oppressors’ sense of being justified and to alleviate the feeling of guilt.” (Eric Stoller, 2008)
The first sounds cosier for sure – yes, its over generalised but no real harm done. The second way more political and in your face.
So which should we go with? Maybe we should look at some of the impacts of stereotypes to help us make up our minds…
Common stereotype number one: Black people are more likely to be criminals
We know its not true. We have statistics to prove its not true and yet still we see it played out again and again within popular culture.
And the police’s response?
Just check the ‘stop and search’ statistics from a recent report:
Across England & Wales, average number of stops and searches:
- Average 22 per 1,000 people
- White population 17 per 1,000 people
- Asian population 40 per 1,000 people
- Black population 129 per 1,000 people
Now which definition of the word stereotype do you think is more accurate?