Seeking influence through characterizing self-categories: an analysis of anti-abortionist rhetoric

Steve Reicher, Nick Hopkins

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    139 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper presents an analysis of an anti-abortionist's speech to a medical audience. It is shown that central to the speech is the way in which the speaker defines the context of the abortion debate and hence the categories of people involved. In particular, the speaker construes himself as a member of a common in-group with his audience, construes the entire audience as part of an anti-abortion category and claims that abortion is in contradict ion with the defining features of the audience's medical identity on a series of levels. This analysis is used to make two suggestions. Firstly, following self-categorization theory, that the ways in which self-categories are defined may be central to the process of mass social influence. Secondly, however, self-categories may not be specified by intra-psychic processes but rather are discursively constructed and argued over. The implications of such a position for future research on self-categorization and category salience are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)297-311
    Number of pages15
    JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1996


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