Volume 3 Num. 1 - June 2003
Constructing Social Categories and Seeking Collective Influence: Self-categorization and the Discursive Construction of a Conflict [Construcci?n de Categor?as Sociales y B ?squeda de la Influencia Colectiva: Auto-categorizaci?n y la Construcci?n Discursiva de un Conflicto]
Volume 3 Num. 1 - June 2003 - Pages 27-57
Marina Herrera , ,
The study is addressed to provide an illustration of how social categories are actively constructed within the context of argumentation, and how category constructions may be central as strategy of collective influence. This is achieved through an analysis of how the Gulf war of 1990-91 was portrayed in the discourse of politicians and in the mainstream and oppositional British media, and how social categories were argued over. In particular, the main aim is to show how the nature of the social categories involved in the conflict was represented, the ways in which alternative representations were argued over, and the significance that category definition had in popular understandings of the war. Qualitative analysis of material collected during the conflict from four daily newspapers editorials, parliamentary debates, political speeches of pro- and anti-war leaders and activists, and laypersons accounts was carried out. The analysis indicates, firstly, that dominant and oppositional elite differs in their arguments concerning the nature and categories involved in the conflict, by showing a reverse symmetry of categorical representations of the conflict. Secondly, ordinary people also differ in their construction of social categories and those supporting a given stance share the category constructions of the respective elite. The study contributes to outline a rhetorical approach to category definition.
Construction of social categories, self-categorization, rhetoric, conflict