The Impact of Stereotypes on African American Self Perception - Essay Example

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The opening of the report consists of the background information about definition for Social Construction. It is used to analyze the progression of distinctive stereotypical ideas from which the construction of the African American’s identity evolved. …
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The Impact of Stereotypes on African American Self Perception
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Download file to see previous pages In this paper the influences of African American stereotypes which are reinforced in popular culture as part of the social learning process are evaluated. It provides the framework for examining how socially constructed notions of African American identity are internalized and sustained. The study considers the definition and application of the social learning theory as the framework to examine the social and behavioral environment that sustains and reinforces stereotypes. Furthermore, the research will investigate the concept of stereotype threat with elements of the social learning theory to explain how people learn from observed behavior. A social construction (or social construct) is any phenomenon 'invented' or 'constructed' by participants in a particular culture or society, which exists because people agree to behave as if it exists or follow certain conventional rules. Pinker writes that "some categories really are social constructions: they exist only because people tacitly agree to act as if they exist". For example, Social status and the use of money are examples of socially constructed ideas because they are agreed upon by society as valuable. Similar to developmental theories of Vygosky and Bruner and Bandura’s social cognitive theory, social constructivism focuses on the significance of culture and context in understanding what occurs in society and construction knowledge based on this understanding. (Derry, 1999; McMahon, 1997). Social constructionists assert that the categories and concepts we use are historically and culturally specific, and depend on where and when in the world we live. while the terms constructivism and constructionism are relative, the term Constructivism generally includes the possibility of deriving meaning from objects in the environment as well as from social interactions. Social Constructionism , on the other hand, denies that deriving meaning directly from objects is possible (Crotty, 1998). Some constructionists and constructivists believe that while reality is a social invention, individuals construct their own realities, thus, no two persons’ realities will be the same, as each each of us has a uniquely constructed version of reality that we carry around with us in our day-to-day experience as human beings. Two people looking at something together never actually see the same thing in the same way (Crotty, 1998). 3.3 Historical construct of African American identity There are significant aspects of an identity construction that need to be understood in context when studying the way in with that identity develops historically. 3.3.1 Reality of the construct: Social constructivists believe that reality is constructed through human activity. Therefore, the members of a society collectively create the properties of the world (Kukla, 2000). Their contention is that reality does not exist prior to its social invention and thus cannot be discovered. This basically means that any idea that we consider as ‘being real’ is only so due to the collective perspective of humans, and has ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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