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The centrality of the self-control ethos in Western aspersions regarding outgroups : a social representational analysis of common stereotype content
Culture and Psychology
This theoretical paper presents a cultural-level analysis of stereotype content concerning derogated outgroups in the West. It proposes that the ethos of self-control is a key source of widespread thinking about outgroups, and thus a key factor in the social construction of certain groups as superior and others as inferior. Drawing on the social representations approach, the paper complements and extends existing analyses of stereotype content that stem from social identity theory and the structural hypothesis. By emphasising cultural values, particularly that of self-control of the body, it casts light on neglected sources of stereotype content such as its emotional, visceral and symbolic roots. Furthermore, by exploring further dimensions of the self-control ethos - linked to the mind and to destiny - the paper shows that derogated outgroups are often symbolised in terms of contravention of multiple aspects of self-control. Finally, the paper contributes to a cultural understanding of social exclusion by investigating the origin, production and diffusion of the symbolisation of out-groups in terms of deficits in self-control.
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