The Situationist

Archive for April 27th, 2008

The Situation of Public-Political Discourse

Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 27, 2008

Image by mharrsch - FlickrYesterday, Hillary Clinton challenged Barack Obama to a debate with no moderators, in the spirit of Lincoln-Douglas.

This month’s Harper’s contains an eloquent essay (based on a lecture) by Marilynne Robinson, which among other things suggests that such an event–were the Lincoln-Douglas exchange truly the model–would not be well received.

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[T]he old dream of integrating the highest levels of thought and learning into a life of humane labor in which everyone has a part, the ideal of equality without condescension, this is what we have lost. Every aspect of contemporary life assumes a lowest common denominator that is very low indeed. What politician would be so bold as to refine a point, confess to an ambivalence, allude to literature or history? We have been at great pains to winnow thoughtful language out of public life, so perhaps we would all have to get used to the sound of it again. We would have to persuade the press not to bullyrag any utterance hat seems to them too complex for the common mind. One of the Lincoln-Douglas debates was held on the lawn of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, one of the oldest and most important of the abolitionist schools. Thousands of people stood in the open air to hear a very lengthy, unamplified debate. Lincoln’s own few months of education might not have been unusual in that crowd. But no one now would dare speak to any crowd as substantively and respectfully as he spoke to them, and no one now would expect that patient attention they gave to Douglas and to him. Lincoln was well prepared by his own history to know that intelligence, eloquence, intuition, and sensitivity could emerge despite obstacles, and that they could be quietly present where no one might expect them.

. . . . We praise democracy most of the time, but we practice it as if we had accepted every argument against it, as if we believed it must depress the level of culture and of public life.

Posted in History, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Gender Images and Implicit Attitudes

Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 27, 2008

A new study from three social psychologists at the University of Granada in Spain examines how our minds categorize implicit attitudes about the two genders. Soledad de Lemus Martín, Miguel Moya Morales, and Juan Lupiáñez Castillo studied how an image of man connects to implicit attitudes relating to competence, while an image of a woman tends to relate to those relating to social skills.

A news story on the study further summarizes the study’s findings. Below we excerpt a portion of the story.

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[W]hen we see someone in a concrete social context, the qualities associated with competence (efficacy, motivation, intelligence and their antonyms) are more activated when we judge men or women in their traditional roles (the man in an office as a leader and the woman as a housewife). However, the qualities related to sociability (kindness, understanding, sensibility and their antonyms) are notably more activated in counter-stereotype contexts (a man doing the housework and a woman as a leader).

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For the rest of the story, click here. For other Situationist posts relating to gender and psychology, click here.

Posted in Implicit Associations, Social Psychology | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

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