Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I guess I'm confused about the word generalization in recent posts. If you cannot make generalizations of audiences, speakers, discourses, people, etc., how do you know you have different audiences?

Many generalizations are subjective, and therefore open to debate. Generalizations do not always need to be assumed absolute. At some level, generalizations are an efficient way to begin to take in a large amount of information. Start with the big picture (or basic concepts), and then refine your understanding, ideas and opinions with more knowledge, awareness and critical thought.

Are positive generalizations necessarily bad too? As George Beetham, Jr. pointed out, we all have a lot in common. I agree with him that celebrating our differences is a good thing. If there were absolutely no differences among people and we were exactly the same, life would be pretty boring.

This is in no way intended to justify what Imus said, or excuse hurtful racist or sexist words/actions.

After I’ve completely overused the word generalization in one post—and made a few of my own—I have a question for the journalism majors: how are generalizations approached in your classes?


Pat said...

I agree that by itself generalization is not a perjorative word. The act of generalizing has practical applications, as you point out.

For the most part, I think we have been talking about stereotyping, which is distinguished from generalizing by its negative, distorting aspects. When Don Imus called the basketball players nappy-headed whores, he was not generalizing; he was stereotyping.

Pat said...

Sorry for the misspelling of pejorative.

Megan, please see my comment on the media advisory Moon-Yun sent us.

Megan said...

Thanks, Pat, that helps.