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Language and Intergroup Relations

Language is a tool people use to realize goals in groups. These goals can manifest in socially constructive ways such as democracy, cooperation, and altruism, but they can also manifest in socially destructive ways such as totalitarianism, hate speech, and genocide. The ways in which these social structures and behaviors evolve depends on the relations between groups, and it depends on language. Language can also be a defining attribute of a group that distinguishes it from other groups. This entry describes some of the ways in which language is used to manage social distance, and reviews research on language and prejudice. Then, it discusses relationships between language and power, with reference to gender, status hierarchy formation in small groups, and linguistic devices used to mask ...

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