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Categorization is the process of differentiating between objects, ideas, or concepts. Categorization is useful for analysis of communication as a framework for analyzing how people differentiate among things, people, experiences, or ideas. Categorization is particularly useful for understanding how people talk about others in their social world and how they differentiate between people they experience. Categorization can be understood from a variety of perspectives: the classic view, the prototype view, the self-categorization view, and the conversation analytic view. This entry provides thorough assessments of each of these perspectives.

Classical View

The first theories of categorization can be traced to Plato and Aristotle. In their view, categories had clear boundaries defined by common properties and were uniform in respect to centrality. This meant that all members of a ...

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