Stigma, Stereotypes, and Attributional Theory: A Successful Merger


  • Tasha A. Riley



Critical race theorists assert that racism in society and schools is a factor that impedes the progress of minority students. Whiteness theorists argue that white racialized teachers and students assume entitlement to privileges within an educational system that promotes white privilege as natural and allows it to remain unchallenged. Researchers of both theories claim that until racism is recognized as real, stereotypes and biases will continue to be passed on by teachers and administrators and the educational divide will grow. While these theories provide a useful framework for the macro context of society by providing a lens to view how educational institutions have been constructed to reinforce the status quo, they fall short when examining the subtle ways discrimination seeps into daily practices. When combined, theories on stigma, stereotyping, and attribution may give policymakers and practitioners insight into the extent to which perceptions of race, ethnicity, gender, and socio-economic status influence teachers' expectations for students.