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Accusations and denials of racism : managing moral accountability in public discourse
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by M Augoustinos, Danielle EveryDanielle Every
As Van Dijk (1992) has documented, one of the pervasive features of contemporary race discourse is the denial of prejudice. During the last 50 years, social norms against openly expressing racist sentiments has led to the development of ways of talking that present negative views of out-groups as reasonable and justified, while at the same time protecting speakers from charges of racism and prejudice. It goes without saying that a ‘prejudiced’ or ‘racist’ identity is no longer a valued identity. Negative representations and evaluations of minorities are commonly preceded by ubiquitous disclaimers such as ‘I’m not racist but . . . ’ or ‘I have nothing against migrants but ... ’. Contemporary race talk, therefore, is strategically organized to deny racism. A closely related but largely ignored phenomenon associated with the denial of prejudice is a political climate that creates what is tantamount to a social taboo against making accusations of racism in the first place (Augoustinos and Every, 2007). Such charges and accusations are invariably met with not only strong denials, but also moral outrage and are often treated as more extreme than racism itself. This Special Edition publishes new discursive work on the delicate discursive and argumentative management of accusations of racism and their accompanying denials.