Author Archives

Suhaib Riaz

Research Findings

Savvy men and shopaholic women: How media divides us

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January 25, 2019

Why do social inequalities – the kind that divide people on the basis of race, gender, etc. – persist in our societies despite many efforts to eliminate them? Who do we blame?

Our research shows that there are subtle, complex ways that people are categorized by media, which may be partly to blame.

Categories are part of our lives. Films are categorized into genres and sub-genres. Vehicles can be SUVs, sedans, minivans, etc. Categories organize information, reduce complexity, and make decisions easier.

But we also know that categories have a dark side. Because categories reduce complexity and force things into one group or another, they oversimplify reality. Importantly, categorizing people in simple ways can become a major problem because it influences our perception of those people’s real abilities and other characteristics.

In our study, we focused on one demographic aspect – gender – to unpack the mechanisms through which this operates. We focused on categorization in mainstream media given the importance of media in shaping people’s opinions, perceptions, and values.

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