Tuesday, February 26, 2013

W.D.S.: The Category Problem

Haley Scholars Spring 2013 Reading Groups 

By Cindy Lyles

“Troublemakers: What Pit Bulls Can Teach Us About Crime” opens with a horrifying scene of a father fighting vicious pit bulls off of his toddler son. Such an emotionally-charging introduction sets the stage for Gladwell’s journey through the process of how pit bulls became portrayed as one of the most dangerous dogs and consequently became banned in certain states and even countries, although all pit bulls are actually not the most vicious breed. It is merely a generalization.

Gladwell uses the pit bull generalization to parallel the issue of racial profiling, which is rooted in applying broad generalizations based on sole traits. He asserts that these traits are tricky: “Behind each generalization is a choice of what factors to leave in and what factors to leave out, and those choices can prove surprisingly complicated” (396-397).

In this process of “what factors to leave in and what factors to leave out,” we inevitably encounter the “category problem,” which is “matching a category of people to a behavior or trait” (398). In other words, Gladwell is describing the stereotyping of groups of people.

What are some ways the “category problem” manifests at SIUE?


Jamal Sims said...

A major way the "category problem" manifests at SIUE is the reputation certain professors hold. If a student believes a professor does not teach that well they will pass that on to friends, who in return, will refuse to have class with that professor.

Jessica Oranika said...

The category problem manifests at Siue in the stereotypes about athletes. This includes negative stereotypes that say that certain types of athletes are unintelligent, and are only in college to play their sport. It also includes positive yet not always true stereotypes that say that athletes don't party, drink alcohol, or do drugs. They only focus on what makes them better at their sport.

Terry Taborn said...

I believe the "category problem" is manifested in the way different majors are represented. Engineering is seen as a career path for only the very intelligent or the "nerds" which is not the case. This belief could lead people, who could possibly be very successful engineers, to lose confidence in themselves and do something else they might not enjoy as much. I have even heard professors say "Business majors have more fun senior year." Hearing professors say things like this will not help the students. They begin to think of present success in the place of future success. This too falls under the "category problem."

Joshua Jones said...

At SIUE, an example of the "category problem" can be found in the way we view students in fraternities and sororities. Most people will assume that you drink, party, or do drugs just from the mention of greek life. This is partially due to the way the media portrays them.

Ashley Bass said...

I also think that the one of the biggest ways that the "catergory problem" is
manifested at SIUE is through sororities and fraternities. As I was reading
this question greek life immediately popped into my head. Most people think
that all members of fraternities/sororities do is party and drink. They don't
realize that there is more than greek life to that. Many people are unaware of
the hard work that goes into being apart of a sorority/fraternity because of
the "catergory problem".

Dj Sterling said...

One example of the category problem at SIUE can be found in the stereotypes about Christians. Some people believe that all Christians want to impose their beliefs on you and force you to believe the same. That is not the case. The stereotype came from the few who has tried to force Christianity on others.

Joneshia Y. said...

The category problem manifests at SIUE in terms of Greek Life. Many people believe that it's all about stepping/strolling but it's so much more to Greek Life than people realize.

Jessica Hickman said...

A major category problem that is manifested at SIUE is the choice of classes, majors, and professors. When discussing certain professors or classes, people will tell don't take this class because it is too hard or that the professor is not good. This is one persons opinion. A specific thing that one person may not like could be the choice for another person.