Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stereotype

"Defining people according to simplistic categories, of course, dates back to antiquity. In myth, ritual, and drama, and in the ways that history was recounted, characters often appeared as easily identifiable types, embodiments of good and evil, virtue and trickery, innocence and cunning. In the contemporary world, however, where cultural meanings transcend cultural borders, and where the standardization of images and information is commonplace, the problem of stereotyping has become particularly acute.

Within recent history, the media's capacity to spawn mass impressions instantaneously, has been a pivotal factor in the dissemination of of stereotypes. In fact, the link between media and stereotype is in the origin of the word itself. Coined in 1794 by the French printer Fermin Didot, "stereotype" was the name he gave to a novel printing process by which papier-mâché molds were made form full pages of handset type. Like cookie cutters, these molds were then used to produce duplicate plates, cast in metal, permitting newspapers and books to be printed on several presses at the same time without the need to set individual pieces of type into forms for each printing press...

The invention of the stereotype technology multiplied the variety of printed materials that could be produced, hastened the mass production of print and the growth of mass readership. More than ever before, unprecedented numbers of people could now consume the same ideas and information simultaneously. Borrowing its prefix from the Greek stereos - meaning solid, hard or fixed - the term stereotype, by the 1820s, was beginning to evolve into a metaphor, a common shorthand for "the idea of unchangeability, of monotonous regularity and formalization." Typecasting: On the Arts and Sciences of Human Inequality

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