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The Authoritarian Dynamic

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Part of Cambridge Studies in Public Opinion and Political Psychology

  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521534789

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About the Authors
  • What is the basis for intolerance? This book addresses that question by developing a universal theory about what causes intolerance of difference in general, which includes racism, political intolerance (e.g. restriction of free speech), moral intolerance (e.g. homophobia, supporting censorship, opposing abortion) and punitiveness. It demonstrates that all these seemingly disparate attitudes are principally caused by just two factors: individuals' innate psychological predispositions to intolerance ('authoritarianism') interacting with changing conditions of societal threat. The threatening conditions, resonant particularly in the present political climate, that exacerbate authoritarian attitudes include national economic downturn, rapidly rising crime rates, civil dissent and unrest, loss of confidence in social institutions, presidential unpopularity, divisive presidential campaigns, and internal or external crises that undermine national pride or confidence. Using purpose-built experimental manipulations, cross-national survey data and in-depth personal interviews with extreme authoritarians, the book shows that this simple model provides the most complete account of intolerance.

    • Develops and tests a universal theory of intolerance of difference that effectively explains all kinds of intolerance - racism, political and moral intolerance, and punitiveness
    • Draws on research and methods from political science, psychology, and sociology, and will appeal to readers in all three disciplines
    • Harnesses many different kinds of evidence - experiments, surveys, in depth interviews, qualitative statistics - from many different countries in a very accessible, non-technical fashion
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Academic readers in political science, psychology and sociology should not miss the book. They will be richly rewarded.' Political Studies Review

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    Product details

    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521534789
    • length: 392 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 155 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.59kg
    • contains: 50 b/w illus. 33 tables
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: the authoritarian dynamic
    2. Kindred spirits, common spark: the theory of the authoritarian dynamic
    3. Manipulating threat and reassurance: data and methods
    4. The authoritarian dynamic and the politics of fear: putting the pieces of the puzzle together
    5. Authoritarianism and conservatism across cultures
    6. Authoritarianism and conservatism: how they differ and when it matters
    7. One true people: putting a dace on the theory
    8. One right way: fleshing out the portrait
    9. Manning the barricades: racism and Intolerance under conditions of normative threat
    10. The authoritarian dynamic: implications.

  • Author

    Karen Stenner, Princeton University, New Jersey
    Karen Stenner is Assistant Professor of Politics at Princeton University, New Jersey where she has been teaching since 1998. She has previously taught at Duke University, North Carolina. She is the recipient of the Stanley Kelly Teaching Award awarded by the Department of Politics at Princeton University in 2001. Professor Stenner is the co-author of Electoral Behavior: Introduction to Theories, Methods, and Data (ACSPRI, 1992) and has co-authored articles in Political Behavior, Political Psychology, and the Australian Journal of Political Science, among others.

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