How Does Popular Culture Stereotype You?

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How Does Popular Culture Stereotype You?
Through the media – newspapers, magazines, radio, television, films, and the Internet – we regularly encounter stereotypes of various groups in our society. Whether based on some measure of reality or not, these stereotypes become part of our cultural folklore, and many people’s perceptions of ethnic and social groups are based solely on representations they see in the media. How do we know when a representation will be accepted as tongue-in-cheek, ironic, or offensive, or even perceived as true?

  • Do the media represent people as ideal types – that is, as we wish we were or as others (marketers? Groups with various kinds of social power?) wish we were? If so, to what extent are these practices harmful? To whom? Why?

  • Do the media represent some segments in terms of stereotypes? If so, to what extent are these practices damaging? To whom? Why?

  • When do the media influence us directly? When are they mediated in some way – that is, linked to complex changes that, in turn, influence attitudes or behaviors?

If your school has Greek organizations, what stereotypes do you see for individual organizations or for Greek life as a whole? Think about other student organizations on your campus – sports teams, religious groups, minority organizations, or majors from a particular school or department. Do you think that your campus stereotypes individuals? Can you make an argument about how stereotypes might be useful or even helpful on a college campus? Can you offer evidence that stereotyping causes real harm to individuals?

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