Institutional Politeness in (South) East Asia
  • ISSN 0957-6851
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9838
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This article analyzes how a group of Hong Kong students talk about people in other countries in an informal group discussion. The focus is on the discursive construction of outgroup stereotypes, and the analyses show that the attitudes discussed in the group are highly variable, even contradictory — across as well as within individual group members. Discursive Psychology is used as the theoretically informed analytic approach for the analysis, and Social Identity Theory (Tajfel) and Self-Categorization Theory (Turner) are proposed as the overall theoretical frameworks which seem to encompass the different themes uncovered in the analyses. The article argues that personal experience, rhetorical ends, and group dynamics are salient factors in terms of explaining the construction and nature of the stereotypes. Furthermore, it is argued that intergroup differentiation is important in accounting for the process of stereotype-construction, and that cognitive dissonance, as well as accusations of prejudiced identities, appear to have little noticeable effect on individual group members or intra-group harmony. Finally, the article argues that this group discussion could be seen as an example of predominant discourses and ideological positions about Western and Asian ‘others’ which exist in contemporary Hong Kong society.


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