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Social Construct: Asian-Americans - Essay Example

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This paper “Social Construct: Asian-Americans” will focus mainly on the “positive stereotypes” of the Asian-American as a social construct, and how these affect those living as an Asian-American as well as the consumption and repercussions of the group…
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Social Construct: Asian-Americans

Download file to see previous pages... Overall, it would seem that many constructions of Asian-Americans do focus on these so-called positive stereotypes, although many Asian-Americans themselves struggle with this definition of their own culture. As previously mentioned, Asian-Americans are a highly influential group in American culture, not least because they are one of the largest ethnic groups but also one of the most visible (Lowe, 1996). Although many would argue that the social phenomena of race is socially constructed itself (Andreason, 2000), the focus of this essay will be on how the Asian-American group has been socially constructed in specific. In much of the research, Asian-Americans seem to have been constructed in the social psyche as being a “model minority”, a term found throughout the literature (Lowe, 1996). The term “model minority” refers to the low incarceration rate of this group (Le Espiritu, 2008), as well as high household income (Siegel, 2012). Additionally, there are more difficult to prove aspects of this social construct, such as the high work ethic and academic achievement often associated with Asian-Americans (Siegel, 2008). This construct can be found in the consumption of American media. Shah (2003) found that there were four main stereotypes of Chinese Americans in film, which are termed “Yellow Peril,” “Dragon Lady,” “Charlie Chan,” and “Lotus Blossom” (p1). Whilst some of these are negative stereotypes, the so-called positive stereotypes of Chinese-Americans as assessed by Shah (2003) “provide normative models for Asian thought and behavior” (p1), meaning that they have been somewhat absorbed into Asian-American social constructs of themselves as a group. Furthermore, there are a huge number of movies which typically feature an Asian-American ‘construct’ associated with positive features like high academic achievement. For example, films such as “Mean Girls” have a stereotypical group of people known as the “smart Asians” (Waters, 2004). In the 2008 movie “Get Smart”, Bruce is an incredibly smart (and ‘nerdy’) character (Segal, 2008). Similarly, the stereotype is played up in TV. “Community”, for example, has a Math Club which is entirely populated by Asian-Americans (McHale et al, 2009). Image 1: Bruce from Get Smart (Segal, 2008) This social construct of the “Model Minority” has even permeated into the new media. The character Ki Oshiro-Wellington from the web comic General Protection Fault is also incredibly nerdy (Wikipedia, 2013). Computer games may also feature nerdy Asian-American characters, such as Jenny from My Sims (My Sims Wiki, 2013). However, opinions about the Asian-American stereotypes have also permeated the new media. In an analysis on YouTube, newdemo (2007) argues that this stereotype is simply a form of racism. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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