Social categorization helps in studying patterns of social change or perspectives of different groups in any society, regarding social or political or any other issue. It would otherwise be highly difficult to assess the nature of opinions of different people as the information…
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a member of a meaningful social group.” (Stangor, 2004, p.112) People can virtually be categorized on the basis of anything- age, colour, gender, ethnicity, work experience etc. The real categorization according to the social categorization theory is to divide people on the basis of some “meaningful” characteristic.
Researchers in the theory of social categorization stress the importance of in-group identity and out-group differences (us against them, men and women, whites, and so forth). This theory includes the principle of meta-contrast to explain why people perceive more connections among members of in-group and stress dissimilarity between members of in-group and out-group. (Rothbart & Korostelina, 2011, p. 137)
The most plausible harm in simple categorization is done by not taking into account the social outlook of a set of people and label them as a ‘group’ on the basis of a meaningless trait or characteristic. This may create hostility between the various social groups and deviation among the members of each group, as their social outlooks would be different in spite of their common, meaningless characteristic.
The cognitive approach highlights the effects of categorization processes on intergroup judgements and perceptions... Categorization may be imposed by an external agent or may emerge perceptually through differences in subgroup sizes. Minority group category membership tends to be more salient, and information about their members is processed more on the basis of prototypes than exemplars relative to majority group members. (Mnstead & Hewstone, 1996, p. 336)
As the main aim of social categorization is to understand the dynamics of various groups and sub groups in a society, therefore, it is imperative that it is based on cognition, rather than a meaningless trait. If individuals within a group do not associate themselves or identify their common experiences or outlooks with their group members, then dissent is likely to occur within ...
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