A human is a social being, which aspires to the order and clarity in the outside world. The search for patterns and the social relationships building are grounded on artificially designed laws that allow streamlining the reality and making it more acceptable and understandable. For this case, the categorization is used. It creates conveniences for those, who actively promotes modulating social reality due to personal preferences, and satisfies the near environment, helping to avoid undesirable conflicts. Thus, the construction of social reality is a subjective process that is based on the categorization in accordance with race, class, gender and other characteristics, and actively supported with the mass media assistance at the scale level, which is subjected to the interest groups.
Creation of social reality is an individual process. It depends on the personal perceptions of the world, the experience of each member of society and his/her knowledge, which is directly connected with the surrounding community. Mehan and Houston define five primary characteristics of reality. Considering an example of the Azande of Africa, they point out that the reality can be perceived as a reflexive activity. In other words, it is based on the experience of previous generations kept and protected by the oracle and indestructible knowledge that is analogous to the axioms for mathematicians. The world remains unaltered accordingly to such convictions. Scientists highlight: “Reflexity provides grounds for absolute faith in the validity of knowledge,”.
The second quality of reality, which embodies a consequence of the first one, is coherence. Mehan and Houston are considering reality as a coherent body of knowledge, as experience can be subjected to analysis and verification. Thus, it could be considered through the prism of researcher’s understanding. Coherence or consistency of knowledge is a criterion of truth from a philosophical position. Therefore, it is treated as a basis for studying the manifestations of reality. For this reason, systematizations become the core instrument of a researcher. “The coherence feature operates as an incorrigible proposition, reflexively sustained,”.
Accordingly to the third feature, the scientists explore reality as interactional activity. Turning to the issue of categorization, it is considered an example of the psychiatric hospital patients’ classification on the basis of their behavior. Thus, reality is built on various types of the human matching models of activity and consists of social interactions of communication. Its perception is defined by the labels that embody indexical expressions (situational meanings) and depends on circumstances.
Summarizing that “every reality depends upon ceaseless reflexive use of a body of knowledge in interaction,” Mehan and Houston stress on fragility feature. It is caused by the lack of conduction rules’ clarity in practice. Relations could be easily broken in a collision of conflicting approaches to various manifestations of reality on the part of individuals. For these reasons, the fifth feature is formulated. Mehan and Houston mark permeability of realities. Given the fact that the perception of reality is an individual phenomenon, it cannot be single. Thus, a person actually slides between realities, given the previous discussions. “One reality may be altered and another may be assumed,” and successful breaches allow crossing their borders. Thus, reality is not something stable. It can be easily modified and changed under the influence of situations, actions, and thoughts.
Categorization is one of the reality management tools. The distribution of social groups and individuals in layers allows selecting the relatively stable elements of the social structure. Stratification may be based on various factors and characteristics. In terms of public relations, race, class, and gender could be explored. Given the Five Features of Reality, it can be noted that the racial characteristic, class division, and gender stratification reflect the matching models of behavior, or labels that are situationally or historically defined by society. Thus, the modern world has a tendency to generalization, categorization, and stratification, which give rise to numerous social problems and become a cause of human sufferings.
A race is a system of human populations, characterized by a complex of hereditary biological similarities that originally have nothing to do with socialization. At the same time, social class may consist of representatives of different nationalities, who are united by economic and other criteria. However, the categorization by race is often intertwined with the class stratification. It is significant to note that sometimes an individual can abandon its racial identity and socially join the majority to take a higher class position. However, this rule could be implemented in the case of minor racial or other differences, which can be neglected. For example, Herman and Castilla present an example of an American public figure of Linda Chavez with Hispanic roots on her father’s side. She tried to distance culturally and socially from her heritage because the election to the U.S. Senate in Maryland proved that she could succeed pretending to be the American only.
It should be noted that the manifestations of ethnic identity (a set of rules and roles, which are selected by an individual to emphasize its belonging to a specific culture), racial identification (a community chosen by a person to be identified racially), and racial ancestry (a group, which forms the genetic-biological tree of individual) should not be interpreted identically. These concepts do not have the clear practical scopes for multiracial people. However, they determine the social roles of the numerous monoracial nationals. Dineen-Wimberly and Spickard discuss five models of the social class reality formation based on racial identification. The first one proposes to eliminate race as a concept generally to avoid discrimination, appealing to the construction of a harmonious society. The second model emphasizes not only the abolition of race but to encourage the creation of a single black-and-white society accordingly to the model of the Brazilian model mulatto mobility. The third typology includes Mexican and Central American mestizaje model, defined by some scientists as a basis for a perfect race, which has even European and Indian roots. Accordingly to the fourth model, the future American society will consist mainly of Asians assimilated with Latino-Americans that make the Whites outcasts. Finally, the fifth typology considers the stratification of American society on White, Honorary White, and Collective Black, highlighting the similarity with the Latin American model. Thus, there may be a lot of options for building social reality, regardless of the races mixing model. In the case of the multiracial society creation, the improved class mobility and the reconsidering of the hierarchy of the hierarchy will be observed.
Gender determines the roles of men and women in society. However, its characteristics do not always coincide with the sex. Kessler and McKenna emphasize that the concept of gender is arbitrary since there are the different type of sexuality, which cannot be defined purely as male or female. Nevertheless, there are standard notions of gender roles. There is a difference between gender role, identity, and assignment. The first one is the common set of rules and laws for a specific gender. For example, a male must financially support his family, and a female - raise children. Gender identity is the way of human self-determination, based on the adult preferences. Gender assignment is determined once at birth, based on the child’s biological characteristics. Thus, the reality of each person begins to form since the early childhood under the external impact.
Lorber stresses that in the modern world, gender is not based on the physical data, but on a psychological background. In everyday life, boys and girls wear unisex clothes, and women can earn money for the family. Thus, the gender roles should be identified as the socially constructed statuses, which are fixed under the influence of society. Nevertheless, the stratification traditionally puts a male above a female, making the contribution to discrimination. Crenshaw believes that women are particularly vulnerable to gender stratification since it is an additional factor in the discriminatory system. Intersectionality is a concept, which means combining different kinds of intolerance in relation to a person. Thus, a human can suffer from racial, class, and economic discriminations. However, in the case of women, gender becomes an additional factor, especially combined with the racial ground. Thus, leveling gender features could put the beginning of real equalization of rights in society and the construction of a just social reality.
Mass media, regardless of whether they are printed or electronic, are huge corporations that originally focus on benefits multiplication. Already, in 1990, in the U.S. the 24 giants that controlled the media market were observed. Media is used as a powerful tool to influence the consciousness of the masses. It is used by the governing elites to create a social reality acceptable for the selected population. In Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media discusses the scheme of media cooperation between the Government and the big business to disseminate effective propaganda machine. Moreover, the film demonstrates the transformation of facts into the news by the introduction of advertising, providing agreement between the elites, anti-communism propaganda, and distortion of the initial information, etc.
Croteau, Hoynes, and Milan note that the media constantly proves that a man knows little about the world and does not understand the social processes. Thus, numerous distorted facts about reality are easily perceived by the masses. As a rule, the most of the information does not bear essential meaning. However, contextually, the media affects the subconscious. It explains a person from the mass its accessory and identification, imposes the aspirations and desires, talks about the tools and techniques to achieve the proposed objectives, and gives the feeling of the close triumph, even if an individual is far from the goal. It looks attractive, creating an alternate reality. A person is not required to conclude and express own thoughts. He/she is just looking for something consonant with private preferences. A human absorbs of information, which includes the elements of contextual propaganda of violence, and discrimination, etc. Thus, during uncontrolled contact with media, prejudices are not eradicated but reinforced. It is the first step towards the loss of independence of thought and freedom of consciousness.
Life in the shadow of such concepts as race, class, and gender is not something out of the ordinary. On the contrary, it is part of the reality, which has been created over the years and rooted in the subconscious of people. A person could be extremely simply denied the rights if it is perceived as a subhuman. An example of the discrimination policy may be the racial ideology, which proclaims the superiority of a particular ethnicity. A concept, which had been maintained in the U.S. during several centuries, emphasized the dominance of Whites as a natural order of things. Accordingly to the racial hierarchy, they were intellectually and socially more developed. The beginning of immigration only gave rise to a qualitative change in the attitude towards people of other races. Gallagher emphasizes the subjectivity of such a relationship because the children, who have lost their ethnic heritage, integrate into American society easier. Moreover, the subsequent gradually generations blur the line between the races.
Regardless of the perpetrators of discrimination and circumstances, the basis for all forms of discrimination is established by the ignorance and prejudices. Childs explains that the Whites consider interracial communication as a source of trouble and possible loss of status. They unconsciously believe in the Blacks’ inferiority that is a product of the ignorance and dirty stereotypes. It shows an abyss in the interracial dialogue. Moreover, some governments openly justify some manifestations of intolerance, referring to moral, religious, or ideological considerations.
Violent demonstrations of prejudice are often facilitated by the inaction or assistance of officials. The movie La Haine, directed by Kassovitz in 1995, shows the realities of violence and racial intolerance observing the clash between racial minorities and the police in France. Discrimination affects Jews, Arabs, and Blacks. Prejudices do not give youth the access to education, the chance for socialization and decent job, and understanding on the part of the social majority. Life in the ghetto shows the wrong side of a civilized society in which there is no place for the racial and class rogues.
The mainstream consequences of discrimination are violence and cruelty generated by the humiliation of dignity. Racially motivated abuse is nourished by such factors as the spread of xenophobic attitudes towards the immigrants, discrimination in the criminal justice system, and the armed conflict participants’ actions, etc. Additionally, it contributes to the continuous systematic discrimination and denial of individual and collective rights on the racial ground, including the deprivation of ancestral lands, loss of control over natural resources, and the oblivion of traditional knowledge, as well as forced assimilation into mainstream society and integration into the market economy.
There are numerous laws and customs that restrict the fundamental freedoms of women, including the right for movement and expression. From infancy girls are considered worse than boys, and this attitude takes such forms as selective malnutrition and denial of equal education and health care. The violence is used to intimidate women in the family, at work, in detention facilities, and during the conflicts, when rape becomes a weapon of war. Thus, the categorization of people and stratification of society accordingly to various criteria is the evil that must be gradually eradicated for the better future of mankind.
Religious, sexual, cultural, and other features have long served as a background for the division of society and the creation of false barriers, which could be perceived as the nature state. It causes sufferings of many people due to intolerance. Discriminatory trends are complicated to be eradicated because people often avoid live communication and prefer Internet or TV. Media sphere belongs to the huge corporations that are interested in profits. They feed categorization and contribute to strengthening stereotypes accepted in society. The actual enthusiasm of people in real life is the only solution. The social reality is created individually and jointly. Media deprives the opportunity to think independently and creatively. Thus, a significant step is to bring together in multicultural groups based on common interests and purposes. Strengthening cross-cultural contacts as part of educational programs and public movements will expand the horizons of every member of society and change the reality for the benefit of humanity, where there is no place for intolerance to any of the signs.