Edited By Howard Giles and Anne Maass
The volume brings together authors from different geographical areas (North America, Europe, and Australia) and from different disciplines (particularly communication, linguistics, and psychology). Contributions are organized around five themes, corresponding to the five sections of the book: defining features and constraints; tools of intergroup communication; social groups in their context; intergroup communication in organizations; and future directions.
Chapter Six: Political Correctness
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BECKY ROBINSON AND SCOTT A. REID
Political Correctness (PC) has become a force in intergroup relations. On the one hand, there is evidence that PC is an antidote to linguistic discrimination (see Maass, Suitner, & Merkel, 2014). Discrimination is typically encoded in language that denigrates ethnic minorities (such as ethnophaulisms; e.g., towel head for Middle Easterners; see Mullen & Rice, 2003) and non-heterosexuals (e.g., gay vs. fag; see Carngahi & Maass, 2007), as well as masculine generics (e.g., use of man to refer to all humans) that render women of secondary importance to men (see Spender, 1980). This, and other language does not merely describe groups, contributes to maintaining the status quo and makes hierarchies appear natural (see Ng & Bradac, 1993; Reid & Ng, 1999). PC can be regarded a social good to the extent that it persuades people to avoid discriminatory language.
But PC is frequently met with resistance, and the effects of PC are not all favorable. Consider a recent example reported by Chait (2015) in New York Magazine. Chait described an incident in which a University of California, Santa Barbara professor of feminist studies, Mireille Miller-Young, confronted pro-life teenagers who were displaying images of aborted fetuses in a campus free-speech zone:
Miller-Young, angered by the sign, demanded that they take it down. When they refused, Miller-Young snatched the sign, took it back to her office to destroy it, and shoved...
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