Clowns and Cubicles
(A look at workplace stereotypes through their appearance in comic strips)
Stereotypes can be found in just about every aspect of society. A person engaging in any type of social interaction is either consciously or unconsciously engaging or affected by the many ways we stereotype people. Stereotypes while usually given a negative connotation seem to be an inherent part of human nature. By grouping individuals into categories a person can feel more in control of their surrounding and of their own self as a unique individual. Every person has either participated in stereotyping or has been a target of a particular stereotype. Stereotyping can either be subtle or obvious. The world of a high school student is filled with stereotypes; the jock, the prep, the loner, the stoner, these particular stereotypes are not pulled out of thin air, but rather they are a collection of attributes that a individual presents to the world. Some of these attributes include the cloths one wears, how one carries oneself, but language (which will be the topic most discussed in this paper) is probably the most instrumental in the formation of stereotypes. Some stereotypes are so old and so widely used that they are accepted as the norm. This can be seen with a large degree of consistency in the office world. An office space is like a play where everyone who works in it is assigned a role. In the world of employer-employee relationships language contributes heavily to the development of stereotypes.
Anyone who has worked in an office environment has been witness to the variety
of stereotypes presented there. For instance there is the middle aged but still spunky women with all the Troll Dolls and cut out comic strips lining her cubicle. The irony in this stereotype is that the comics this woman has plastered to every open space in her office are full of office stereotypes just like her. In fact, cartoon strips are a great media for presenting stereotypes in a rather humorous and inoffensive way. The success of the humor in these comic strips speaks to the idea that people recognize these stereotypes in their relationships with people at work
Language is closely associated with social status. The study of which is often referred as sociolects. In the world of business, manufacturing, and just the world of general labor sociolects often determine the type of relationships one develops with the people in their workplace. Recognizing these class distinctions is often easy. But...