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"Americans want to be unique" was a statement a foreign born man said to me today. It prompted a line of thought for me that culminated in the question; What differentiates a cultural norm from a stereotype? Both may be true. Both may be perceived as negative or positive. But the PC police would have us believe that stereotyping should not be spoken about...or indeed even thought about.

And yet cultural norms exist for each and every group of people on earth. Are we not to speak of these for fear of stereotyping an individual? How can we respect cultural diversity without first recognizing cultural norms? And once we have identified a cultural norm...have we then stereotyped an individual that dwells within that culture?

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And yet cultural norms exist for each and every group of people on earth. Are we not to speak of these for fear of stereotyping an individual? How can we respect cultural diversity without first recognizing cultural norms? And once we have identified a cultural norm...have we then stereotyped an individual that dwells within that culture?

the problem is really one of economic disparity.
So it is an issue of class and not how a people perceive themselves?
I'm not at all sure of that, ZD...look wider, please. There are a lot of wealthy folks in the world with no class... and a lot of others with plenty of class who don't have two dimes to rub together. Interests, habits, ideas, upbringing... these cut across economic barriers. So do certain regional differences, whether state-wide, continent-wide or world-wide. Language, eating habits (as AfromB points out), housing or clothing preferences, there are so many... and they have nothing to do with money.
Marx would agree.
Helloooo... we were talking stereotyping and cultural norms here, I thought. I rather think that ZD and Marx are off in the corner having quite another discussion.
"Some will say one or the other depending on what they think im trying to say when i say it".

"Most people dont take kindly to generalizations, they usually see some negativity attached to it. If its seen as a bad thing"

So you are saying that a cultural norm becomes a stereotype when a value judgement is placed upon it? That is to say....that it is judged to be either good or bad. And that the person making that judgement is the member of the group for which the statement is being made...not the person making the statement?
"How people view themselves as individuals on how its perceived." You nailed it again Anthony. You're a smart guy, or maybe I believe you're a smart guy because I usually agree with you. :)
There have been many threads concerning cultural differences and stereotyping, but none have been presented as eloquently as you presented it here Hu. Some Americans want to be unique as well as individuals from every country in the world, it's a personal choice, look how unique ZenDog is. :)

No difference between "cultural norm" and "stereotype". It's all in the perception of each individual. People who are ever offended, are only offended due to their own prejudice. I have no problem speaking of cultural differences, if you're offended, see the previous sentence. I would never insult someone by telling them they're ugly or stupid, insulting is different than offending.

Yes Hu, once we have identified a cultural norm, then we have also stereotyped, one has a neutral conotation and one has a negative conotation. (See sentence 3 of paragraph 2) :)
That is well said, Larry...
I hear it so often: "Americans all eat fast food", they "have no culture" they "are only interested in money and profit"... and on it goes. "Present company excepted, of course, you have chosen to seek out another way of life"... I have to remind these people, who I am sure mean well but don't think before they speak, that I am very ordinary and did not retire here for noble reasons, and that there is an enormous diversity of people in the U S of A just as there is here; otherwise why are McDo and Hamburger Quick so popular here? ...and on and on. There will always be a small percentage of truth in a generalization, but it does not, cannot apply to everyone within the group in question.
The most poignant line in any movie ever, was the first line in the movie "The Jerk", delivered by Steve Martin. The line goes "I was born a small black child". Even though the movie was a comedy, that line is brilliant. Through the eyes of an innocent child, surrounded by siblings and parents who love and nurture him, he's black, even though his skin color is as white as white can be. Culture begins with childhood, the most innocent time of our lives.
Yes.
Much of knowledge is classification. Without classification, there can be no differientation. There would be no way to judge.

If I see a spider with a red hourglass on its back, I have a few choices. I can assume its like most black widows and very dangerous, or I can judge it as an individual specimen and give it a chance to prove the stereotype wrong, and pick it up.

We must speak and abandon fear if we believe we speak the truth. If a pattern exists for a group of people, then it exists despite our feelings about whether it should or not.

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