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 Seven: Intergroup Metaphors
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NICK HASLAM, ELISE HOLLAND AND MICHELLE STRATEMEYER
The vast majority of psychological research on intergroup relations leans heavily on the concept of valence. Perceptions, impressions and judgments are organized along the evaluative dimension of positive to negative. Stereotypes, although theorized as purely cognitive, tend to be flattering or derogatory, arrayed along highly valenced content dimensions of warmth and competence. Prejudices are conceptualized as degrees of dislike, or as associations between groups and negative stimuli. Communication is riven with judgments of the virtues and vices of absent parties. Group members are said to be motivated to preserve a sense of positive distinctiveness, and biases are defined by the drawing of more negative inferences about outgroups than ingroups. Sometimes the social psychology of intergroup relations can look like a morality play.
Valence is, of course, an extremely important dimension of group communication. However, an exclusive focus on evaluation flattens the content of intergroup relations and omits some subtle elements that are vital for an enriched understanding of group life. In this chapter we explore how particular metaphors operate in perceptions of and communications about outgroups and in the contrast between ingroup and outgroup. These metaphors, although they are sometimes bound up with strong evaluations and emotions, cannot be reduced to evaluative judgments without losing their content.
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