Cognition and Ideology: A Rhetorical Approach to Critical Theory

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Extracts of an argument which defended the assassination of the popular South African leader, Chris Hani, are used to show variability in the style of fascist cognition. Such variability, although compatible with current dialogical models of thinking, contradicts the theoretical predictions of the classical social psychological theory of the authoritarian personality. Furthermore, it undermines this traditional attempt to develop a psychological critique of fascism because the emergent nature of cognitive processing means that a pervasive psychological irrationality cannot underlie fascist thinking. In particular, fascists cannot be described as intolerant of ambiguity. It seems that once again the postmodern understanding of an emergent self leads to an anti-critical relativism. In this paper I develop a Bakhtinian understanding of cognitive style in order to advance an alternative approach to a critical social psychology. I argue that research may gain a critical impulse by analysing forms of utterance in terms of the social languages through which they ventriloquate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-768
Number of pages22
JournalTheory and Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • authoritarianism
  • cognition
  • critical theory
  • dialogic models
  • fascism
  • ideology
  • rhetoric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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