Tolerance and intolerance: Cultural meanings and discursive usage
SourceCulture & Psychology, 27, 1, (2021), pp. 172-186
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR SOC
Culture & Psychology
SubjectInequality, cohesion and modernization; Ongelijkheid, cohesie en modernisering
The notion of tolerance is widely embraced across many settings and is generally considered critical for the peaceful functioning of culturally diverse societies. However, the concepts of tolerance and intolerance have various meanings and can be used in different ways and for different purposes. The various understandings raise different empirical questions and might have different implications for the subject positions of those who are tolerant and those who are tolerated. In this study, we focus on cultural understandings of tolerance and intolerance and how these terms are used in discourses. We first describe how in an open-ended question in a national survey lay people use a classical and a more modern understanding of tolerance to describe situations of tolerance and intolerance. Second, we analyze how those who tolerate and those who are tolerated can flexibly use these different understandings of (in)tolerance for discursively making particular "us–them" distinctions. It is concluded that the notions of tolerance and intolerance have different cultural meanings which both can be used for progressive or oppressive ends.
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