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W.i. thomas and thomas’s theorem

W. I. Thomas (1863-1947) is justly famous for his work with Florian Znaniecki (1882-1958) concerning the assimilation processes undergone by Polish peasant immigrants to the United States. Indeed they are responsible for our concepts of the social types they defined as “the Philistine, the Bohemian, and the creative man” that informed our social dialogue both in academia and in popular culture in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. However, Thomas is most widely know for what has come to be called Thomas’s Theorem which, which, according to Merton states that:

if men define situations as real they are real in their consequences. . . .Once meaning has been assigned, their consequent behavior is shaped by [that] meaning. If people believe in witches such beliefs have tangible consequences—they may for example kill those persons assumed to be witches. This then is the power the human mind has in transmuting raw sense data into a categorical apparatus that could make murderers of us all. Once a Vietnamese becomes a “gook,” or a Black a “nigger,” or a Jew a “kike,” that human being has been transmuted through the peculiar alchemy of social definition into something wholly other who is now a target of prejudice and discrimination, of violence and aggression, and even murder. Masters of Sociological Thought: Ideas in Historical and Social Context . Lewis A. Coser. Harcourt. Fort Worth. 1977. p. 521.

In other words we act on what we think is real regardless of its ontological reality. Our beliefs, our perceptions, guide our behavior. We treat people based on what we perceive to be their basic (essential) characteristics often based solely on our perception of their place in the stratification hierarchy. Stereotypes and discriminatory behavior are almost always based on such perceptions. Our own position in the stratification hierarchy is judged just as we judge that of others and based on the same generally superficial qualities. What are the first things you notice when you meet someone for the first time? Do the things you notice color your analysis of that person?

It seems to be both a biological as well as social trait that humans place everything in our environment into categories that help us determine what is safe and not safe. Anything that is different is immediately suspect and until we have analyzed the difference and determined whether that difference is or is not harmful we are apt to separate ourselves from that real or perceived danger. Seminal Social-Psychologist Gordon W. Allport wrote:

No one quite knows why related ideas in our minds tend to cohere and form categories. Since the time of Aristotle, various “laws of association” have been proposed to account for this important property of the mind. The clusters formed do not need to correspond to outer reality as found in nature. For example there are no such things as elves but I have a firm category in my mind concerning them. Similarly, I have firm categories concerning groups of mankind although there is no guarantee that my categories correspond to fact.
To be rational, a category must be built primarily around the essential attributes of all objects that can be correctly included within the category. Thus all houses are structures marked by some degree of habitability (past or present). Each house will also have some nonessential attributes. Some are large, some small, some wooden, brick, cheap or expensive, old or new, painted white or gray. These are not the essential or defining attributes of a house. Allport Gordon W. The Nature of Prejudice: 25th Anniversary Edition . Perseus: Reading. 1979. p. 171.

Essential characteristics

Human beings create mental categories based on our current knowledge of our social and physical world.

We may know full well that there is no such thing as a werewolf, but when we hear a wolf howl while we are camping our minds conjure up certain visions of what may be lurking just beyond our campfire.
Ibid. Thus, we also use these categorical ideas to develop concepts of the essential characteristics of groups of people who differ in some way from ourselves; and yet, determining the essential qualities of any group is highly problematic:
[p]robably in no case can it ever be said that a group difference marks off every single member of a group from every single nonmember. . . . There is probably not a single case where every member of a group has all the characteristics ascribed to his group nor is there a single characteristic that is typical of every single member of one group and of no other group.
Allport Gordon W. The Nature of Prejudice: 25th Anniversary Edition . Perseus: Reading. 1979. p. 103; italics in original.

What are the essential characteristics of women? Gays, lesbians, and bisexuals? Blacks? Hispanics? Asians? American Indians? The disabled? The elderly? Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists? Or of any minority? What can be said that always applies to each and every member of the group without exception? According to Allport, (based on the J-curve theory of distribution), there are some (not necessarily essential) group traits that are exclusive to a particular group but are rare within that group. In statistical parlance, these are called rare-zero differentials. Unfortunately, we tend to generalize these rare-zero differentials and assume that they are widespread essential group characteristics. The J-curve theory states that the essential attributes of a group—these characteristics that define the group—tend to follow a J-curve type of distribution. Furthermore, a J-curve distribution, by definition, includes only group members—no non-group member can be fitted statistically into the distribution. Allport Gordon W. The Nature of Prejudice: 25th Anniversary Edition . Perseus: Reading. 1979. p. 97. All women are __________. All men are ___________. All Muslims are __________. All Jews are ___________. All blacks are ___________. What words did you use to fill in the blanks? Were those words categorical rare-zero stereotypes based on your perception of reality? Are you sure? Why?

Various Sociological, Psychological, and Social-Psychological studies indicate that, based on first impressions of strangers, we think physically attractive people are smart; fat people are sloppy and not very bright; well-dressed people are smarter, richer, and more attractive than people who are less well-dressed; nonwhite males are dangerous and sinister; white people are smarter, richer, more attractive, more honest, and more trustworthy than ethnic or racial minorities (even in the eyes of racial and ethnic minorities). In other words the way we form our initial opinions of the intrinsic human value—the basic human worth—of a stranger is based largely on those external aspects of the person that society has determined are acceptable or not acceptable. We are a class-driven society, but those American core values of equality and independence for all also blind us to the class structure, the social structure, the stratification hierarchy, and the prejudice and discrimination that effects so profoundly and with such grave consequences our day-to-day interactions with our fellow human beings.

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
Renato
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
?
Kyle
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
Adin
why?
Adin
what school?
Kyle
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
Joe
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
research.net
kanaga
sciencedirect big data base
Ernesto
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
Bharti
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
Daniel
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
Maciej
characteristics of micro business
Abigail
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Anassong
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
NANO
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
s.
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
Tarell
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
Damian
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
Tarell
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
Virgil
is Bucky paper clear?
CYNTHIA
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
NANO
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Harper
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
s.
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
SUYASH Reply
for screen printed electrodes ?
SUYASH
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
Ebrahim
or in general
Ebrahim
in general
s.
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
tahir
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
Cied
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Minority studies: a brief sociological text. OpenStax CNX. Mar 31, 2010 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11183/1.13
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