Stereotyping vs Sociological Hypothesis

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Stereotyping is a term used by sociologists to describe aspects of racism, ethnocentrism, hate crimes, discrimination, and prejudice; whereas a sociological hypothesis refers to a statistical analysis and conclusion attempted in a scientific research design. A sociologist might use the term stereotyping in a research design to describe components of racism and ethnocentrism within a community.

Stereotyping is based on assumptions and generalizations about a group of people, or a person. These assumptions and generalizations are usually of the negative variety. Stereotyping can do a lot of psychological harm to the people who experience stereotyping. 

Stereotyping is an aspect of prejudice, wherein prejudice is about pre-judging people. When you prejudge people you usually stereotype them. Prejudging people means that when you meet someone of a different culture, religion, or ethnic group, you have a preconceived notion of how they may act, talk, think, or do things. This preconceived notion can be either negative or positive. You can think all people of a certain group are better dancers or singers than all other groups. Or you can think all people from a certain group are less intelligent than all other groups.

One of the favored topics of many sociologists is the study of racism, prejudice, stereotyping, discrimination and ethnocentrism.

Ethnocentrism refers to a culture or ethnic group that thinks their culture or ethnic group is better than all other cultures and ethnic groups. Therefore they might have ways of putting down another group of people since they think their group of people is the best. Stereotyping is one way they can do this by saying "all those people do that or this."

Stereotyping is when a person or a group of people decide that a race, ethnic group, religious group, or a person exhibit certain negative characteristics and apply labels to these groups such as the KKK (Ku Klux Klan) as a group labeled other groups negatively and inferior to themselves.

Stereotyping may lead to bullying, hate crimes, gang warfare, mob warfare, international wars, and terrorism.

Sociological hypothesis

All scientists seek to discover new ideas and new ways of doing things and new formulas such as in math, chemistry, and physics. Biologists look for new species and new discoveries regarding molecules and cell structure. Social scientists such as sociologists also look for new ideas regarding groups of people and seek to discover more about the human being through how he interacts within  his groups such as religious affiliations, political groups, and community organizations.

A sociologist might do a research design to discover why more people within a particular group are prone to alcoholism or suicide. He will first look at the statistics of that particular group which are usually available  in a government database. The sociologist will then develop a hypothesis such as "The relationship between family solidarity and suicide" in a particular community where there have been a lot of suicides. There will also be a null hypothesis which is that there is "no relationship to family solidarity and suicide." Then according to the research design the sociologist  will conduct controlled studies using surveys, participant observation, and statistical analysis to determine the cause of more suicides in a particular group or community. He will then come up with either the sociological hypothesis or the sociological null hypothesis.

Sociology is an exact science like all other sciences to look for the root causes of social problems. Sociology does not rely on common sense. Sociology relies on facts and statistics. Sociology may take a common sense answer and study it to determine the real sense of an issue. Common sense can many times be just what people as a mass group of people think but it may not be the right answer. Just as in Hitler Germany where the mass of people had decided that all people who were not Aryans were imperfect and therefore should be annihilated; this is where stereotyping leads. Common sense is very subjective. Common sense for one person may be entirely different for another person due to the mores of the groups people associate with. Common sense can thus lead to stereotyping which may not be the true answer. Therefore the sociologist tries to get to the truth of an issue through collected facts and statistics in controlled scientific analysis and the sociological hypothesis.

A sociologist would never stereotype in order to form a hypothesis, but there is the possibility of a sociologist having a stereotypical notion that he might seek to prove through statistical analysis. This can happen in all scientific experimentation with discovering the hypothesis. A scientific hypothesis might argue against all previous scientific hypotheses and therefore set up an argument whereby more scientists will do more studies to seek to either prove or disprove the underlying theory or the new theory.

Within all scientific research in developing hypotheses there is the margin of error. Therefore scientists do continued experiments and research on similar issues to check and recheck on results. After considerable research has been done and numerous hypotheses come to the same conclusion, the scientific community will begin to accept a new theory.

In conclusion, stereotyping is an opinionated conclusion based on assumptions and generalizations that is most times negative and hurtful and can psychologically damage those persons experiencing stereotyping. The sociological hypothesis is an accepted scientific theory based on exact scientific research that is based on facts and statistical research.

More about this author: Colette Georgii

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