This paper seeks to offer an alternative approach to the study of prejudice than that based upon the notion of categorization which is currently influential in cognitive social psychology. It is argued that the categorization approach assumes the inevitability of prejudice and ignores the issue of tolerance. The assumptions of the categorization approach are criticized, and it is suggested that, by focusing on categorization as a cognitive process, it has overlooked an opposing process—that of particularization. The result has been a rather mechanical and bureaucratic model of cognition. A less mechanical view is possible if the relations between the two processes of categorization and particularization are considered from a rhetorical perspective, which examines the argumentative nature of thought. For theoretical and empirical reasons, this perspective does not equate prejudiced thinking with rigid categorization; instead a rhetorical approach permits a distinction between prejudice and tolerance on the basis of content, rather than form, and thereby avoids assuming the inevitability of prejudice.
European Journal of Social Psychology – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 1985
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