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In order to make an integral assessment of people, places, or things, it is first important to have a complete vision of all of the elements that make it up. In understanding what the main types or kinds of a specific set, it is necessary to undertake a process of classification. Classification is a method of sorting “a group of things into categories or classes” (Duncan 1). For example, when analyzing the different ways of living that people have (namely urban, suburban, and/or rural), one incurs in a process of classification. Through classification it is possible for people to have a better understanding of the world that surrounds them. Classification consists of separating and organizing elements in order to be able to analyze and evaluate them (both separately and as whole). In principle it might not seem that classification is significant, but considering that everything that exists in the world is comprised of different elements, it becomes clear that such a kind of analysis, interpretation, and evaluation, is important.
Having introduced the concept of classification and stated its importance, it is important to discuss how classification is performed. In other words, what is the technique, or the steps, employed when incurring in a process of classification? First of all, it is important to select that which you intend to study and identify all of its constituting elements. Once this has been done, decisions have to be made regarding the way in which such elements will be organized, or grouped (into classes). When deciding what the grouping criteria will be, it is important to remember that there must be a common principle of selection between all of the aforementioned elements (a scheme that unites them) (Duncan 2). Once this has been done satisfactorily, it is important to go over the classification that was performed in order to make sure that no classes have been left out. For example, if a classification of the world’s religions is being done, the process would not be completely or correctly done if one religion were left out.
Another prevision that must be taken into account when classifying is that the categories that the elements will be grouped under do not overlap. Each element should belong in one category exclusively. If at any moment one element can be assigned to more than one category there is an overlap and the process will end up being carried out incorrectly. Each category must be unique from the rest. Therefore, each one should be described in full, pointing out how it is that each one is different from the others and how each fits in the general scheme of the classification. In doing this, including an example when describing each category is always helpful. Finally, once the classification has been finalized it is advisable to evaluate each class/category, and if applicable, compare each one with the other classes/categories that make up the overall classification structure. This way, it will be possible to gain a better understanding of how each constituting element of the whole fits into the complete unit.
Classification is a process that helps in gaining a full understanding, a complete vision, of all of the elements that make up or characterize a group of people, a place, or a thing. In truth, everything that exists in the world is made up of a series of different constituting elements. Through classification one manages to visualize those differences, since classification basically breaks down the whole into its different parts. It is important, however, to be mindful that classification is not something that can be done arbitrarily. There are certain steps, or techniques, that are necessitated in order to render a good classification. Otherwise, the process will end up defeating the purpose of what classification truly is.