Archive for February, 2010

According to the Collins Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary, which I usually refer to, a stereotype means ‘a fixed general image or set of characteristics that a lot of people believe represent a particular type of person or thing.’ Not only this dictionary, but there are many wordbooks that define the stereotype as a ‘fixed’ conception or image. It is true that a stereotype is the concept that socially fixed in a certain way, and people live based on this social norm.  Becasue of this fixed stereotype, they can process tons of information everyday and make a decision without long hesitation.

However, at the same time we can say that  a steroetype is not fixed. It means that it can change. Even though it looks very confirmed and long-established, it might change as time goes or by ‘certain’ people in that society(Especially the changes by some people have a lot of issues that we can talk about. I will deal with this topic later in this blog). Of course, the change of it is not visual because it happens very slowly. For example, the stereotype that all the Asian people are good at math can change, but it’s not going to happen very quickly becuase stereotypes have been formed in their mind for a long time. It takes a time to be changed.

Here is one interesting example about it. Traditionally and internationally, a cigarette has been just for man. The woman who smokes have been considered as a ‘bad’ woman(even sometimes as a ‘whore’ or a ‘slut’). So, we can say that was a kind of gender stereotypes at that time. But, in 1967, Philip Morris decided to sell the cigarette to the women, and they made the advertising targetting women.

The thing is that they tried to make woman think that cigarette is a symbol of the woman’s right against man, and it worked very well. They totally changed the concept of smoking by woman. Maybe there are still some people who think about woman’s smoking very badly, but it’s true that it’s not like the past any more.

Here is my point about our project and this example. As I mentioned above, we need to focus more on the changes of the stereotype by ‘certain‘ people. In that case, we can say that ceratin people is the cigarette company, Philip Morris. Why did they put those kind of sentence – You’ve come a long way, baby – in their advertising? Was that because they REALLY worried about the woman’s right in the perspective of feminism? No. I don’t think so. They were doing that just because of ‘their interest’ not for ‘everyone’s interest’.

This concept is also related to ‘Hegemony‘ by Antonio Gramsci, who was an Italian philosopher, politician and political theorist. In next post, I will talk about this idea on a full scale, and also the role of the Internet against the ‘certain’ people who decide debate in the public sphere. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be interesting topic.

Thanks 🙂


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   In the article “stereotype in media”, Lily Gataullina said that media has become another althusserian ideological apparatus that control the mind of masses. Here I quote one paragraph as following.

Mass media became on of the main sources of popular culture in modern capitalist society. Media, however, not only entertains and offers news to people, but also transfers the stereotypes, beliefs and values of the society to reproduce the existing order of social life. Louis Althusser in his theory of ideological state apparatuses, says that schools, families, religions play the role of the ideological state apparatuses. These institutions invisibly transfer and indoctrinate the dominant hegemonic ideology of the society into the minds of people in order to be able to control people. In the modern capitalist world, I would argue, media turned to be yet another althusserian ideological apparatus that control the mind of masses.

    In fact, we can easily find plentys of examples about this arguement. For instance, in many movies we saw that males are usually the boss who dominant females, black people are always the poor who live in a dirty place, all women are desperate to get married, and all Muslim who wears turban are danger. These scenario might all be familiar to everyone, and they could have already been a stereotype in our mind. 

all women are desperate to get married ?

  However  we can not simply blame media system for providing such biased content, the audience has the great responsibility for judging and selecting the right information about what they seen or what they recieved. Moreover, media stereotype are inevitable, such as movies, advertising, news and entertainment, they all need to gain as much attraction or attention from audience as possible. And by using those stereotype in contents, it will be easier and quicker for the audience to understand and absorb those informations.  We do stereotype as a way of making sense of our surroundings, it allows us to understand a complex thing with a minimum of effort. But as I mentioned before, we still need use our own value and knowledge to process those informations when recieving them from the media system.

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Nowadays, I’m watching the American sitcom, ‘Friends’ which have been loved by many people all around the world. The episode that I watched today was about the ‘male nanny’. Ross and Racheal interviewed people to hire a nanny for their daughter, Emma. Then, the ‘guy’ named ‘Sandy’ knocked their door and came in to apply for the nanny. Rachel really liked that ‘sensitive’ guy as a nanny for Emma, but Ross didn’t like him because he thought it’s weird. However, at the end of the episode, Ross found that Sandy is the best nanny ever.

Look at the picture left (Children’s Museum Gender Stereotyping Game – Rancho Mirage, California). It’s very interesting. We see those two signals – Men and Women – in front of the public washroom almost every day. We just pass them without any interest, but whenever we  see them and pass it, certain gender stereotypes are formed in our mind automatically. The fourteen icons under the Men and Women signals are impling some professional jobs. The thing is that the only one gender represents the certain job. For example, firefighters, engineers and athletes are just for men. On the other hand, ballet dancer is for women.  In the website where I found this picture (http://www.wandco.com/projects/other_projects/CMD2.php), they are saying, “Are firefighters always men? Can golfers wearing pants be women? These magnetic bathroom sign symbols allow children to explore gender stereotypes in a playful way.”

Making these gender stereotypes and delivering thse ideas are very easy, and so they are very dangerous. Of course, there are lots of factors that have an influence on it, but the problem is that the Internet can show these gender stereotypes to people repeatedly and make it as a firm ‘fact‘ socially. These stereotypes can be delivered in several ways, such as some cartoons, music, or video clips. Think about the great influences of the ‘YouTube’ to the modern people and society. I believe it makes you understand those things much easily.

Lastly, I want to post one interesting article about Gender stereotypes. It explains why we want to meet gender expectation in the society. According to Nadya Avsievich, we have to follow certain ‘rules’ about gender role and if we don’t it could be ‘critical’. (http://www.vitryssland.nu/gender.html)

“Gender stereotypes, family and school”

 So why do we want to meet gender requirements and norms, why is it necessary for us to justify gender expectations? Speech by Nadya Avsievich on the International Seminar about gender stereotypes in Pinsk, Belarus, in November 2001.
The combination of informational pressure

So why do we want to meet gender requirements and norms, why is it necessary for us to justify gender expectations?
1. We get under normative pressure. We have to follow certain rules and justify the society’s expectations, not to be rejected by it. In some societies the refusal to follow gender norms can be very cruel.
2. We also experience informational pressure. Learning more about the world and ourselves, thinking what position to take we usually are guided by information giving to us by the others, but not by our own experience.
Thus before deciding what is right and what is wrong we try to find out what is right to other people’s mind. We consider that we behave in a right way until we behave the same way as the others.
The strong influence of gender norms on our behavior can be explained by the combination of informational pressure and normative pressure.
On the one hand social norms (stereotypes) simplify our life and reduce the number of apprehension processes. In our childhood we discover it and learn to follow them without thinking.
But on the other hand gender stereotypes limit the development of a human personality and lead to social inequality.
I would like to speak more about the stereotypes imposed on men in our society.
Men suffer of gender stereotypes, which require men’s social value to be measured by the amount of money they earn and their high position at work. This prevents men from being active in family sphere, taking care of children and household.
Stereotypes create machismo cult, push men to reckless, risky, aggressive actions in order to demonstrate their masculinity (“just send everybody and everything to hell and go ahead”).
Men are expected to be competent in all spheres. They regard it to be inconceivable if someone knows more or if someone thinks they behave in a wrong way.
Men are not allowed to show their feelings in public as well as to discuss thing concerning emotional sphere. This causes stresses and nervous breakdowns.
What can we do in order to make our society gender equal? What kind of role can people play in stereotype breaking?
People are not robots, programmed by the society. If they wish they can become rebels and change the social structure and introduce new models.
The ideas of minority can influence the majority’s mode of thinking.
When we look at people trying to get what is socially acceptable – people look at us! It means, that we can influence the changes much more than it seems to us. If we believe in gender equality, we should tell people around us about it. Of course this will influence other people’s mode of thinking (others are potentially ready to agree with us).
Also we should support people, organizations and parties, which stand for gender equality and make efforts to change gender stereotypes.



Reportage about the seminar in russian language:


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  In the last article, I said that  Internet can increase the monopoly of knowledge, because many information on websites are only posted by limited people, the people who has the skills to use the technology. They can easily portray one thing in a certain way they want, and spread this idea to millions of people through Internet.

  On the other hand, however, Internet can also break the monopoly of knowledge. Let’s take Wikipedia as example. Wikipedia is a largest and free encyclopedia online, it has more than 260 languages and now it becomes a widely-used search tool. Anyone with internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles; people from different occupation or different background can provide their own knowledge and deliver it to everyone.

  Due to this open and easy-edit system, now we can obtain professional information from the Internet instead of consulting the expert. Moreover, the professional information, such as medical knowledge or scientific knowledge, is not limited to the small group of scholars or governing authorities anymore.  Because of the Internet, people can exchange their opinions and share their knowledge to other people. Any kinds of information from art to astronomy, from history to architecture, can be found and learned from the Net. Unlike the old days, we don’t need to be an expert or have great power in order to gain knowledge; simply by accessing the Internet, then we can get all information we want.

   Therefore, Internet just likes a double-edged sword, it can be used to monopolize certain knowledge on purpose, but it can also decentralize the information monopoly. It all depends how people use it and how people view it.

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   In nowadays to many people, Internet seems to be part of our life. We used it to do lots of  things more than we can imagine, sometimes we even don’t notice that how much we rely on the Internet. For example, we use Internet to communicate with our friends, to search medical informations, to read the international news, and so on. However, the most interesting part that I want to discuss about is that “Internet will also influence customer behavior”.

which one is better

    Let us think about several queations first. Before buying a camera, will you search on the Internet first to see which brand is better? Before going to see a movie, will you go online and read each new movie reviews?  I believe for many people, the answer will be absolutely confirmative. When we want to buy certain product or consume something that we has less knowledge about, we are used to search the Internet first in order to gain more informations

leave a comment

about the product and then decide which one is better. Because we have little knowledge about the product we want to purchase, we can easily trsust those informations provided online. Especially, the online comment plays the most important key on it! Customer might change thier mind from brand A to brand B because they saw some bad comments about that company. 

How to choose

Or people might believe one movie is aweful simply because somepeople leave a comment says like “Don’t watch that movie! it is the worst movie that I have ever seen in my life!!!!”

movie review

     Those comments on the Internet might not be true, but the interesting thing is that people will still be influenced by them, and even worse, some people will have the bad stereotype or negative image towards that product or comany forever. Although we know that there are many false informations on the web, and those bad comments might be created on purpose and might not be true,we are rather to choose a product that has good comments or no comment than a product that has some bad comments.     

        We can’t say that the customers are too simple-minded, I would rather said that the Internet will indeed change our thoughts. There are too much informations on the Internet, we should learn how to select the correct and objective one, instead of absorbing all of the them.

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It is an undeniable fact that the Internet is the most powerful media in the whole world. Like Marshall McLuhan said in his famous comment, “The medium is the message”,  rather than the contents in it, the Internet itself has a great impact on human being. While I was doing my research for the project – especially, positive impacts of the Internet on dealing with stereotypes in people’s mind – I found the wonderful example of it; A Candlelight Rally in S.Korea. The following is the artile about it that I got from Korea Times (http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2008/05/117_23569.html).

Public anger has erupted on concerns over the planned import of American beef this month.

Numerous government Web sites including that of Cheong Wa Dae are being bombarded with Internet users’ messages denouncing the decision, even calling it “humiliating and miserable diplomacy.”

The government is afraid that the online boycott campaign might trigger anti-American sentiment it experienced in 2002 when two Korean girls were killed by a U.S. armored vehicle.

Several Web sites working to impeach President Lee Myung-bak were recently established for his role of spearheading the imports. The controversial deal has brought down President Lee’s approval rating to a record low of 35.1 percent since he took the top job in February, according to CBS.

Several street rallies opposing the U.S. beef import are scheduled for the weekend.

One such rally ― by candlelight ― was held at the plaza of Cheonggye stream in central Seoul Friday night. More than 10,000 protesters including numerous school uniform-clad youngsters and office workers held candles, chanting “Lee Myung-bak!! Eat the mad cow yourself first,” and “Impeach the President.” An Internet community (cafe.daum.net/antimb) organized the protest. As of 10 p.m. on Friday, more than 500,000 angry Internet users joined a signature-collection campaign that has run since April 6 to impeach Lee.

“Under the changed regulations, nothing guarantees students’ health. That’s why we has come here to protect our health as well as our juniors,” said Han Joo-eun, a third grader at Sunrin Internet High School, who joined the rally with four friends.

An office worker in his 40s who wanted to remain anonymous said, “As a father with two children and an individual who would consume the questionable meat, I cannot help being angered. We should go to all the lengths to halt the scheduled import.” Rep. Kang Ki-kab of the progressive minority Democratic Labor Party, who made an unexpected visit to the scene, also denounced the government, saying “I can’t accept the result of the negotiations. The government should re-negotiate with the U.S.”

“It’s an unequal treaty, significantly threatening Koreans’ health,” Kim Eun-joo, the Internet community’s operator, told The Korea Times. “It’s not just a matter of us avoiding marked American beef (if we are concerned about its safety) since a wide range of foods we consume are made with ingredients from cows. That means all Koreans will be exposed to the risk of mad cow disease.”

“The U.S. beef would definitely be served to students. I am afraid to let my children go to school. If the import plan goes unchanged, I would persuade parents to boycott schooling,” Kim said.

An investigative TV program reporting on the risk of U.S. beef aired by MBC Tuesday sparked the public anger.

According to the program, Koreans are genetically more susceptible to the human variant of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, compared to Western people who have consumed the controversial meat for the past decades. It also showed a slaughterhouse in the U.S. where apparently mad cow disease-infected cows passed quarantine inspection after electric shock treatment to see if they could stand up.

Korean celebrities also joined in the protest.

TV personality Kim Ga-yeon, 36, urged President Lee and his secretaries to eat American beef first before importing it. Another female actress Kim Min-seon, 29, also blamed the government for importing alleged “germ-filled” U.S. beef.

“I would gulp poison rather than eat U.S. beef,” she said on her homepage.

In 2008, it was a really big issue in South Korea. So many people including middle school students, housewives, and salary men came out to the street. (As you can see in the above picture, there were incredibly many people!) One of the biggest motivation that make people attend the rally was the Internet.

First of all, people could know that the danger of import American beef through the personal blogs. They understood why it could be very dangerous while reading their posts. Second, they realized that other people – sometimes much younger than them – attended the rally to express their opinions by watching video files that took the actual scenes of it. The initial participator taped the scene and uploaded to let other people know the rally. Since the technology in the field of the Internet and computer in S.Korea was very devolped a lot, it was possible to make the video files and uploaded on the Internet very quickly.

By this example in S.Korea, we can see that the Internet is a very powerful medium, which could change not only people’s thought but also the whole society. Concerning our project, it implies that the Internet might contribute to deal with some bad stereotypes. As a Korean, and the perosn who experienced the issue at the actual spot, I can say the Internet changed many Korean people’s thought.

Express your opinion against the government whenever it comes to you improperly! You’re the one of the owner of our country!

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We have been talking about the relationship between stereotypes and the Internet.  Since the Interent is the media which deliver the information very fast and widely, it might make the stereotypes in people’s mind worse and worse. There are so many ways to carry some stupid ideas to others on the Internet, such as pictures, texts, and video files. While they are laughing and chuckling with watching those contents that contain some biased ideas, people’s stereotypes about gender, religion, and race are getting higher.

Obviously, it seems like the Internet is very harmful to deal with steroetypes. However, now I want to say that it might have a positive impact on dealing with biased thoughts of the people. In fact, the nature of the Internet – the biggest library in the whole world – can help people to think out of the stereotypes. Throught the Internet, they can experience a lot of differences. They can be an Asian, an opposite gender, or a Muslim. I believe that stereotypes come from people’s misunderstanding. In means that if you understand something ‘properly’, the stereotypes are going to disappear for sure.

Let me give you one example for this. As I mentioned before, I’m an exchange student from South Korea. I bet the fact that my country is in the ‘special’ situation is a quite famous news in the world. Yes. We are separated; North Korea and South Korea. When I was young – maybe in elementary school, the teacher asked us to draw the North Korean people. You know what? My friends didn’t draw the ‘human being’. The thing on the drawing paper was something like a reddish devil or a monster with big horns.

What do you think? I didn’t realize that it was weird at that time, but whenever I thought about that now, it’s very scary. They were all the children. Why, and how they thought the North Korean people who lived in the same peninsula as the monster, not a friend? I’m pretty sure they were influenced by circumstances surrounded them. Actually, the animation and the cartoon depict the North Korean as very bad people were very popual in Korea at that time. Those kinds of things might make the sterotypes about the North Korean in their mind.

Now, it’s hard to find the kid drawing the North Korean as the monster because they know it’s not so true. Korea is the one of the most powerful country with the IT industry. Over 70 percent of whole population in Korea is using the Internet. In the Internet, they can find the pictures of North Korean, which is drawing the North as a human exactly like us. As they get to know the North Korea as it is, the stereotypes they’ve had is fading away.

To sum up, it’s depend on how people use the Internet. If people use the Internet to stereotype other’s thought, they can. If people use the Internet to deal with stereotypes, they can as well. As a conclusion, it sounds like quite boring, but it’s obvious!!

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