What Is the Definition of Sociological Generalizations?

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A sociological generalization is the act of setting the standard for behavior in social settings based on common behavior. Also referred to as a status generalization or assumption, sociological generalizations are not scientifically proven and leave room for error and stereotype perpetuation. Many sociological generalizations surround a person's race, age, marital status, religious preference, gender, economic status and occupation.

Sociological generalizations can also be defined as statements or principles that people perpetuate on others based on geographic location. For example, if someone is from a rural area, a sociological generalization is that the person has a southern accent, speaks slower or even serves in an occupation within the farming industry. These generalizations group people together based on assumptions or stereotypes versus recognizing individualism.

Discrimination based on stereotypes, both in social settings and in the workplace, can also occur as a result of sociological generalizations. Although, sociologists with the Everyday Sociology publication show a clear distinction between generalizations and stereotypes. An example of a sociological assumption may include noticing someone wearing a police uniform and assuming that person is in fact a police officer. A stereotype develops when that same person assumes that just because someone is wearing a police uniform, that he or she is strict or unable to bend the rules.