The Culture of Conformism: Understanding Social Consent
Patrick Colm Hogan is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Connecticut. His previous books include On Interpretation: Meaning and Inference in Law, Psychoanalysis, and Literature and Colonialism and Cultural Identity: Crises of Tradition in the Anglophone Literatures of India, Africa, and the Caribbean.
“[Hogan’s] goal is not merely to explain but to provide tools of understanding that will be of practical value to those who struggle for justice and freedom. Drawing from an impressive array of sources, his valuable study advances both ends considerably, no mean accomplishment.”—Noam Chomsky
In this wide-ranging and informative work, Patrick Colm Hogan draws on cognitive science, psychoanalysis, and social psychology to explore the cultural and psychological components of social consent. Focusing in particular on Americans’ acquiescence to a system that underpays and underrepresents the vast majority of the population, Hogan moves beyond typical studies of this phenomenon by stressing more than its political and economic dimensions.
With new insights into particularly insideous forms of consent such as those manifest in racism, sexism, and homophobia, The Culture of Conformism considers the role of emotion as it works in conjunction with belief and with the formation of group identity. Arguing that coercion is far more pervasive in democratic societies than is commonly recognized, Hogan discusses the subtle ways in which economic and social pressures operate to complement the more obviously violent forces of the police and military. Addressing issues of narcissism, self-esteem, and empathy, he also explains the concept of “rational” conformity—that is, the degree to which our social consent is based on self-interest—and explores the cognitive factors that produce and sustain social ideology.
Social activists, economic theorists, social psychologists, and political scientists will be intrigued and informed by this book.
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