What Constitutes 'Discrimination' in Everyday Talk? Argumentative Lines and the Social Representations of Discrimination

Greenland, Katy; Andreouli, Eleni; Augoustinos, Martha and Taulke-Johnson, Richard (2018). What Constitutes 'Discrimination' in Everyday Talk? Argumentative Lines and the Social Representations of Discrimination. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 37(5) pp. 541–561.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0261927X18762588

Abstract

Most people agree that discrimination is wrong, but the boundary between 'discrimination' and 'not discrimination' is often highly contested in everyday practice. We explore the social representations of 'discrimination' as an object of study in qualitative interviews and focus groups with both minority (self-identified as BAME and/ or gay men) and majority (self-identified as white and/ or heterosexual) participants (n= 54). Our analysis suggests three repeated and pervasive argumentative lines in social representations of discrimination; (1) that there are two distinct kinds of discrimination (hard versus soft), (2) that you need to understand the intention of the actor(s), and (3) that a claim of discrimination requires strong evidence. We outline the macro Functions of these resources to argue that each was non-performative: they appeared to be tools to make claims of discrimination, but in practice they were much more effective at making claims of what was not discrimination.

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