I was slightly troubled by how we discussed prejudice. We constantly discussed all of the ways that stereotypes were strengthened and how people fell into them often due to the self fulfilling prophecy, but when do we draw the line between self fulfilling prophecy and an individual? When do we say that girls simply like pink more than boys instead of claiming that it is all due to society’s pressures and norms? I am not disagreeing that society and its constant reinforcement of stereotypes cause an effect in creating the stereotypes, but they have to start somewhere. The cyclical nature in which we discussed it is what bothers me.
The “Kernel of Truth” idea for example. You explained how often times there is some truth to a stereotype, but that can be explained by the self fulfilling prophecy. While the self fulfilling prophecy certainly contributes to it, there can be no self fulfilling prophecy if there was no stereotype in the first place. It is a classic chicken and the egg situation. If stereotypes come from an oversimplification and broad assumptions of people of a certain group, than wouldn’t it by its very nature have a “Kernel of Truth”? Wouldn’t the broad stereotype come from a smaller part of the population, the kernel?
When discussing the social norms when it concerns genders, you listed many possible sources of these “misguided” and inaccurate beliefs. In that list you had advertising, movies, literature, religion, and even history. While the first few are certainly more fabricated and open to self fulfillment, people writing and creating what they believe they see, what about history? Where does fact fall into this analysis of stereotypes? And if history is written by the victor and just as fabricated as advertising, where do we draw the line between fact and fiction? It is just hard for me to wrap my head around the complete ambiguity of the self fulfilling prophecy and how actions by those of a group can be discounted to the stereotypes surrounding that group. While I am not saying that stereotypes are a good thing by any means, or that the self fulfilling prophecy does not have an effect as it clearly does, I am just curious where it starts and where it ends.
One issue in particular I took with these lectures was the example of illusory correlation, of Jewish comedians. You asserted that there are not so many Jewish comedians, but that we simply notice them more as they are distinct. While it may be true that most comedians are not Jewish, there is certainly a higher percentage of Jews who are comedians versus other religions or cultures. Jews make such a microscopic percentage of the population, and yet there are so many Jewish comedians. I would argue that it is less of an illusory correlation, and more of a result of the culture. Jews are taught to be questioning and are often persecuted against. I believe that this combination is what leads so many Jews to have a good sense of humor. It takes constant questioning to find comedic things in life, and it takes some sense of persecution to develop a sense of humor. It is often the angriest and saddest who make the best comedians.
I apologize that this blog is one of my most rambling, it is just difficult to synthesize accurately what I am trying to express. I am not saying that I disagree with what you taught us here about prejudice and how it grows upon itself, I just do not understand where it starts and where it finishes. We talk about other cultures openly and the large differences they have on people’s behavior eg. individualistic cultures and collectivist cultures. I understand that it is always important to keep an open mind and not let thoughts on a group define a person, but I am still drawn back to this question. When is it acceptable to look at a group and try and analyze it as a whole, and when is it unacceptable?