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It can be difficult to assess a situation without categorizing the people involved. Stagnor (2016) describes social categorization as “what occurs when people think about themselves and others as members of a social group” (p. 112). Our media driven world seems to drive us to create social categories such as, millennials or democrats. These categories often lead to social stereotypes, which is when we label a whole group as having the same beliefs and characteristics (Stagnor, 2016, p. 115). When my sister-in-law met her new boyfriend, I inaccurately categorized him into this social categorization and stereotype that millennials are selfish and lazy based on what I have heard, and not really on anything I have seen first-hand. He is about thirty and seemed to fit the mold of complaining and making excuses about debt and work. After a few months, I noticed he started to contribute efforts to helping other family members and even pursued new forms of work; the stereotype did not end up being true and I felt bad for judging. The ability for us to separate this social category and stereotype and see people as individuals is referred to as individuation (Stagnor, 2016, p. 120). Social categories can fall into sub-categories in some environments such as, work and school. Work social categories can be looked at as employees, supervisors, vocational, union members, anti-union groups, company minded; these vary depending on individual job requirements and employees. I often get inaccurately categorized at work in this supervisor and anti-union group. This is only the case by people who fail to understand or see the big picture of a situation. My goals are always to do what is best for the long-term success of myself, my peers, and my job. The way to avoid falling into this way of thinking is to keep an open mind and research perspectives before making judgements.
Stagnor, C. (2016). Social Groups in Action and Interaction (2nd ed.) Florence, KY: Taylor & Francis.