The strange death of the authoritarian personality: 50 years of psychological and political debate

Roiser, Martin and Willig, Carla (2002) The strange death of the authoritarian personality: 50 years of psychological and political debate. History of the Human Sciences, 15 (4). pp. 71-96. ISSN 0952-6951

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Abstract

In 1950 Adorno et al .'s The Authoritarian Personality study warned that American society contained a minority of individuals whose characters made them prone to become fascists in certain circumstances and that this was a danger common to contemporary industrial society. After early acclaim critics argued that the main threat came from left-wing authoritarian individuals. But research in several countries failed to establish their existence. We trace and evaluate this debate, largely defending the original research. Subsequent argument suggested that the concept of authoritarianism was becoming outdated in post-industrial society, a view that we strongly challenge. While defending the diagnosis and purpose of the original research, we conclude by endorsing the argument that authoritarianism is better described in terms of attitude rather than personality. This gives a clearer psychological description of political movements of the far right and offers more direct measures for their reduction.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Psychology
Depositing User: Rod Pow
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2012 15:45
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2017 15:10
URI: http://repository.uwl.ac.uk/id/eprint/174

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