James L. Gibson, Washington University in St. Louis, Department of Political Science, has published Taming Uncivil Discourse: Does Reappropriating Group Insults Work? Here is the abstract.
In an era of increasingly intense populist politics, a variety of issues of intergroup prejudice, discrimination, and conflict have moved center stage in American politics. Among these is “political correctness” and, in particular, what constitutes a legitimate discourse of political conflict and opposition. Yet the meaning of legitimate discourse is being turned on its head as some disparaged groups seek to reclaim, or reappropriate, the slurs directed against them. Using a Supreme Court decision about whether “The Slants” – a band named after a traditional slur against Asians – can trademark its name, we test several hypotheses about reappropriation processes, based on a nationally representative sample with an oversample of Asian-Americans and several survey experiments. In general, we find that contextual factors influence how people understand and evaluate potentially disparaging words, and we suggest that the political discourse of intergroup relations in the U.S. has become more complicated by processes of reappropriation.Download the article from SSRN at the link.