This paper focuses of stereotypes and stereotyping as a major form of “othering.”
Othering is not a new phenomenon as this has existed throughout history. Various groups including African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, and white ethnic Americans have experienced stereotypical representation at different time periods. These periods in history include U.S. colonization and slavery, WWII and the Cold War. The stereotyping of Indian Americans for instance has a long history, and these stereotypes are mostly grave misconceptions of the American Indians (Churchill, 1992).
Stereotyping has been defined in various ways. In this paper, stereotypes are considered as beliefs about characteristics, attributes, and behaviours of members of a certain group. Although not all the stereotypes are negative in nature, these are more likely to have negative connotations to the out-group members than the in-group members. There are two major sources of stereotypes. First is the mental representation of real differences between groups. In this case, stereotypes may be the real representations of reality and operate like object schemas, which allow easier processing of information about other people. Second, stereotypes may be formed about various groups independent of the real group differences.
There are different forms of stereotyping. These include stereotyping on the basis of gender, class and race. These stereotypes are mainly culturally and socially constructed. First, the aspects of race, class, and gender together construct stereotypes. Each aspect gains meaning in relationship to the others. For instance, Latinos are stereotyped as “macho.” On the other hand, white women are sexually stereotyped as “madonnas.” Women in the upper class are also stereotyped as frigid and cold. Class and gender intermingle with race and gender in these stereotypes.