Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Treating "Everyone as an Individual" is Impossible in a World Full of Strangers.

Students sometimes think that they should avoid using stereotypes in sizing up strangers.  This comes from an admirable desire not to misjudge people. They believe that if they just treat everyone as an individual, they can avoid ever making group generalizations.

Yet we cannot meet all strangers as individuals.  We encounter them as members of groups. It would be impossible to treat each person we meet with full individuality.

I offer, instead, that we should seek to meet groups with the most accurate group generalizations.  AND that we should remember Rule #1 of Sociology (according to me): We make generalizations about groups which do not necessarily apply to each member of the group.

1 comment:

CJ said...

Say, I like your blog. After a great deal of disillusionment with the toxic politics and petty squabbles that seem to almost universally dominate society's discussions, it's nice to come across a moderate and considerate blog such as this one.

On topic, I think the best solution is to try to think of and treat strangers as individuals as best we can, but tolerate the fact that others and ourselves often can't do that 100%. We should recognize that assumptions have their uses and aren't necessarily bad or antagonistic, and also recognize that thinking of strangers as "one of those people" too much can be problematic to our interactions and attitudes.