Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Typecasting: Stereotype

Ewen, Stuart & Elizabeth Ewen. Typecasting: On the Arts and Sciences of Human Inequality. Revised Edition. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2006. (pp. 51-58)

... In Public Opinion, his classic 1922 study of "public mind" and the forces that shape popular consciousness, Lippmann presented "stereotypes" as axiomatic elements of human perception. In the modern world, he argued, their utility was essential. The complexity of modern existence, and the global reach of contemporary society, made it impossible for people to make sense of the world on the basis of first-hand knowledge.
"[T]he real environment is altogether too big, to complex, and too fleeting for direct acquaintance. We are not equipped to deal with so much subtlety, so much variety, so many permutations and combinations. And although we have to act in that environment, we have to reconstruct it on a simpler model before we can manage with it. To traverse the world men must have maps of the world."
... In a rapidly changing world, where firsthand experience was losing ground as a source of useful information, the media system was replacing customary networks, and rendering stereotypes into easily consumable, industrially generated substitutes for intimate knowledge."

Typecasting: On the Arts and Sciences of Human Inequality by Ewen & Ewen is available on

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