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Implicit Bias and Philosophy, Volume 2Moral Responsibility,  Structural Injustice, and Ethics$
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Michael Brownstein and Jennifer Saul

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198766179

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198766179.001.0001

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The Too Minimal Political, Moral, and Civic Dimension of Claude Steele’s “Stereotype Threat” Paradigm

The Too Minimal Political, Moral, and Civic Dimension of Claude Steele’s “Stereotype Threat” Paradigm

(p.147) 2.1 The Too Minimal Political, Moral, and Civic Dimension of Claude Steele’s “Stereotype Threat” Paradigm
Implicit Bias and Philosophy, Volume 2

Lawrence Blum

Oxford University Press

Claude Steele’s stereotype threat idea has the potentiality for advancing racial equality in education. But it also has some drawbacks. It fails to distinguish clearly between sound generalizations and stereotypes as evidence-resistant overgeneralizations, and thus fails to encourage students to develop the intellectual tools to diagnose and reject stereotyping and to understand its harms. In addition, it could discourage the forming of accurate generalizations that are essential in diagnosing disparities between groups (e.g. in educational performance), and thus of structural and systemic injustice. In doing so it masks the asymmetries in vulnerability to stereotyping that are connected with the role of stereotypes in supporting and being generated by such structural injustices. The masking of these asymmetries is connected with Steele’s poorly defended view that vulnerable groups, such as black students, have not internalized stereotypes of their group. Finally, the lack of political and civic perspective in the analysis of stereotype threat is connected with depoliticized suggestions for reducing it.

Keywords:   stereotype threat, stereotypes, internalization of stereotypes, Steele, generalizations

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