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Publication Date


Publication Title

Political Psychology


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 re-appropriate, 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 re-appropriation 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 re-appropriation.


Re-appropriation, Intergroup Conflict, Asian American Politics, Free Speech, Racial Insults

Publication Citation

Gregory P. Magarian, James L. Gibson & Lee Epstein, Taming Uncivil Discourse, 41 Political Psychology 383 (2020)