The Role of Relevance in Stereotyping: a Schutzian Approach to Social Categorisation

Human Studies 45 (4):613-628 (2022)
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Abstract

This article demonstrates that Alfred Schutz’s theory of _typification_ and _relevance_ together have a great potential to conceptually clarify certain aspects of self-categorisation theory. More specifically, it focuses on the motivational bases of stereotyping, one of the core mechanisms underlying the categorisation of people into groups. Social psychologists have found that stereotyping of out-group members is motivated by factors, such as uncertainty reduction, or the enhancement of the self-esteem of in-group members. What categories and corresponding stereotypes are being activated and applied is ultimately a function of the goals and pragmatic interests of the perceiver in any given situation. The article argues that this phenomenon can be explained, and accounted for, by Schutz’s tripartite system of relevances. To illustrate the theoretical issues at hand, the last section draws on the case of migrants arriving in Hungary and provides a potential explanation for why the ideal type of the _Gypsy_ was triggered and facilitated the way in which migrants have been attended and understood.

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Daniel Gyollai
University of Copenhagen

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