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Hum an Relations, Vol. 50, No.

3, 1997

Social Movem ent Rh etoric an d the Social Psych ology of Collective Action : A Case Study of An ti-Abortion Mobilization
Nick Hop kin s 1,3 an d Steve Reich er 2

Th is pap e r se e ks to contribute toward an inte grate d approach to social m o ve m e n t m obili za tion . It do e s so throug h c onside ring how a soc ial psycho logical accou nt of the de te rm ination of co lle ctive be havi or ( se lfcate gorization theory) may be applied to the mobilization rhetoric of social movements. More specifically it argues that as people may define themselves and act in te rm s of social cate gorie s, we may use fully conce ive of social mo ve m e nt rhe toric as be ing organize d so as to con struct social cate gory definitions which allow the activists preferred course of action to be taken on by others as their own. O ur theoretical argument is illustrated through the detailed analysis of cate gory construction in contemporary U.K. anti-abortion argumentation. KEY WORDS : social moveme nts; self-categorization theory; social identities; rhetoric; abortion; fetus.

INTRODUCTION If one conside rs the que stion of how people are mobilize d to pursue particular political proje cts one is drawn to two lite rature s. The first concerns social movements. The se cond, the social psychology of influe nce . Howe ver, the dominant the mes within these literature s are rathe r contradictory. O n the one hand, the social move ment literature demands a social psychological analysis of colle ctive be havior and the role of rhe toric in changing pe ople s conceptions of the mselves, social issues, and their rela1 Departme nt 2 St. Andrews 3

of Psychology, University of Dunde e, Dundee, Scotland. University, Scotland. Reque sts for reprints should be addre sseed to Nick Hopkins, De partment of Psychology, University of Dunde e, Dundee, Scotland. 261
0018 7267/97/0300 0261$12.50/1

1997 The Tavistock Institute


Hopkins an d Reich er

tionship with such issue s. Thus, there has bee n a growing aware ne ss that it is not e nough to study the obje ctive conditions that give rise to grievance s or the ir psychological manife stations (e .g., fe e lings of re lative deprivation ) witho ut ad dre ssing the proce sse s whe re by issue s com e to be frame d or named as social proble ms (Schne ider, 1985; Best, 1987; Snow, Rochford, Worde n, & Be nford, 1986; Elde r & Cobb, 1983) or moral issues (Lee & Ungar, 1989) . Furthe r, there has bee n a re cognition of the re lationship be tween such framings and the psychology of selfdefinition: among othe r things, such framings organize e xpe rie nce, motivate action, provide vocabularie s of motive , create group membe rs (Williams, 1995; Snow et al., 1986) . Inde e d there is a ge ne ral re cognition that the transformation of pe ople s unde rstanding of who the y are and the situation that they are in is a key mome nt in mobilization and that activists may be expe cted to construct what is at stake so as narrow or broade n the conflict and speak to public constitue ncie s in ways that are supportive of their proje ct (Elde r & Cobb, 1983) . Yet, when one turns to the social psychological literature on colle ctive behavior and mass social influe nce, one finds a body of work striking for its negle ct of the way in which issue s are named and framed. Indee d, far from concerning itse lf with the content of political argume nt and the way in which this constructs people s unde rstandings of themselve s and their relations with particular course s of action, we have a social psychology which typically ne glects the content of argume ntation (Billig, 1987) and seeks to explain mass social influe nce in terms of the effects of a source s attractive ne ss and status (Mills & Aronson, 1965; Eagly & Chaike n, 1975; Hovland & Weiss, 1951) , the role of emotion (Leventhal, 1970) , distraction from message conte nt (O ste rhouse & Brock, 1970) , message structure (Hovland, Lumsdaine , & Sheffie ld, 1949; Hovland, Janis, & Kelley, 1953) etc. The ge neral tenor of social psychology s approach is well capture d in Pratkanis and Aronson s (1992) Age of Propaganda which emphasize s the limite d capacity of human beings cognitive resources and the ways in which these may be exploite d in order to circumve nt thoughtful delibe ration. Thus, where stude nts of social move ments highlight the nee d for a social psychology capable of addre ssing the ways in which people s unde rstandings of the mse lve s and the ir re lationshi p with the world may be transforme d through the ideas containe d in political rhe toric, we have a social psychology which seems to imply that the content of such rhetoric is of little theoretical interest. Our purpose in this pape r is to contribute toward the social psychological analysis needed for an integrate d analysis of social move ment communication. More specifically, we take a recently de velope d theory of colle ctive behavior that has its roots in expe rimental social psychology and conside r how it may be applie d outside the laboratory to make

Ps ych ology of Collective Action


se nse of seve ral feature s of mobilization rhe toric. Below, we describe this mode l, discuss how it may be extende d, and illustrate its utility through applying it to a specific example of social movement communication.

THE SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY OF COLLECTIVE BEHAVIOR Se lf-Cate gorization The ory or SCT (Turne r, 1991; Turne r, O ake s, Haslam, & McGarty, 1994; Turne r, Hogg, O akes, Reicher, & Wethe rell, 1987) argue s that people are able to de fine the mselves at differe nt le ve ls of abstraction. Thus, people may de fine the mselves in te rms of their individuality (and contrast the mselves from othe r individuals) . O r the y may define themselve s in terms of particular social categorie s (e.g., as Scottish vs. English). At a still highe r le ve l of abstraction, they may de fine themselve s as membe rs of the human race and differentiate the mselves from nonhumans. As a corollary, the the ory holds that the way in which one defines one se lf is not fixe d but variable and that one s sense of psychologic al dis tan ce from oth e rs will cha nge accordin g to the le ve l of abstraction at which the self is de fine d. According to the theory, it is this ability to de fine the se lf in te rms of social categorie s that makes colle ctive behavior possible . Put simply, the adoption of a particular se lf-cate gorization re sults in one see ing one self as e quivale nt to, and inte rchange able with, othe r exemplars of the category, with the corollary that one forms a cognitive re pre sentation of the attribute s associate d with this category which is then used to guide one s own be havior. The argume nt that colle ctive be havior is mediate d by ide ntification with social cate gorie s carrie s se ve ral implications. First, conformity to the cate gor ys norm s is de pe nde nt upon ide ntification with the cate gory (Abrams & Hogg, 1990; Reiche r, 1984a). Second, the direction of behavior (i.e ., what is done ) is controlle d and determined by the categorys conte nts (the norms and value s he ld to de fine the category) (Hogg & Turne r, 1987; Reicher, 1984b) . As a corollary, colle ctive behavior posse sse s a coherence with message s which advocate actions that are incongrue nt with the cate gory de finition being reje cted (Reicher, 1987) . Third, as members conform to the ir unde rstanding of what re pre se nts their cate gory in contrast to othe rs, the the ory implie s that a person s ability to define a cate gorys contents will be de te rmined by the ir relationship to the cate gory as a whole . More spe cifically, as members view themselve s as inte rchange able exemplars of a cate gory (rathe r than as unique individuals) , the vie ws of those defined as common cate gory members will be pe rceive d as more se lf-relevant (and so be more influe ntial) than those defined as out-group members (Abrams, We the re ll, Cochrane , Hogg, & Turne r, 1990; Wetherell, 1987).


Hopkins an d Reich er

Applying this logic to the issue of mass social influe nce and political mobilization has the following implication. If what is done is de te rmined by the categorys contents and who is involve d in this activity is de te rmined by the bre adth of the categorys boundarie s, political mobilization may be viewed as depending upon people adopting a se lf-cate gorization, the conte nts of which support the actions that activists wish to promote . ARGUMENTS ABOUT SOCIAL CATEGORIES As individuals may de fine the mselves in a multitude of differe nt ways, it is obvious that an ade quate account of mass social influe nce and mobilization must addre ss the issue of how particular cate gorie s come to be use d rathe r than othe rs. Turne r et al. (1994) see k to addre ss this que stion through the conce pts of acce ssibility and fit. Accessibility re fe rs to the individual s re adine ss to use a particular category according to their goals, motive s and past e xpe riences. Fit refers to the match be tween a cate gory and the nature of the situation and take s two forms. The first, or comparative fit, re fe rs to the re lationship betwee n cate gorie s and the distribution of the stimuli that are to be cate gorize d. Thus, stimuli are more like ly to be categorize d as an entity to the degre e that the ave rage difference s be tween the m are le ss than the average diffe re nce s betwee n the m and the othe r stimuli that comprise the frame of reference . The second, or normative fit, implie s that if a particular cate gorization is to be accepted as appropriate , the re must be a congrue ncy be tween the cate gorys social meaning and the nature of the stimuli. Thus, according to the the ory, gende r cate gorie s are more like ly to be use d to re pre sent a discussion between men and wome n if all the males said one thing and all the fe males anothe r (comparative fit), and if the conte nt of the se differe nt positions were consonant with gende r ste re otype s (normative fit). While re cognizing the merits of this formulation and its e xpe rime ntal support (O akes, Turne r, & Haslam, 1991), it is ope n to readings which imply that the rele vance of social categorie s may be mechanically re ad off the social context by an isolate d individual e ngage d in an inte rnal cognitive act of computation (Reicher, 1993; Reiche r & Hopkins, 1996a, b). At first sight, this might be take n as signaling the limitation of SCT s utility in a domain in which the conteste d nature of social re ality is a key theme. Inde ed, if the analysis of social move ments shows anything it is that the issue of how people make sense of the mselves and their situation is complex. As Elde r and Cobb put it, the issue of who has what at stake is never simply a matter of the facts of the situation but of what facts are conside re d re levant and of the meanings pe ople assign to them (Elde r & Cobb, 1983, p. 129) . In a similar vein, Reicher (1993) obse rve s that in order

Ps ych ology of Collective Action


to make se nse of something like the Gulf war, one must identify the nature of the conflict and the ide ntitie s of those involve d, and that this inevitably require s argume nt about who is to be viewed as part of the social context and how their actions are to be construe d. Thus, whe n deciding on how to make se nse of the conflict we could be faced with argume nts about whethe r to include U.S. activitie s in V ie tnam, Grenada, and Nicaragua in the picture or not, and if so, how to represent the se activitie s. Similarly, when conside ring the Arab states position in the war, our judgme nts are continge nt on argume ntation about which pie ces of information should be take n as be st represe nting their position (e.g., we may argue over whether to pay atte ntion to state presidents or spiritual leade rs pronounce ments, the numbe r and size of the pro- and anti-war de monstrations, etc.). In othe r words, whether the conflict is de fine d as involving two adjace nt dictatorships, a dictator and the re st of the world, the West against the Islamic world, and so on, is crucially de pende nt upon argume ntation about which pieces of information are relevant and how the y are to be characte rized (c.f. Elde r & Cobb, 1983) . The se observations about the e sse ntially conte stable nature of social re ality are not inte nde d to dispute the core theore tical thrust of SCT. Rather, the y are to make the point that if cate gorie s are to be vie wed as intimate ly relate d to context, the n our ability to argue about the nature of that conte xt entails an ability to argue over the rele vance , inclusive ness, and content of social cate gorie s. Thus, while accepting SCT s analysis of colle ctive be havior as action in accordance with the norms, value s, and knowle dge associate d with categorie s, we wish to emphasize that the nature of the se categorie s is a site of argume nt and is constructe d in and through language (Reiche r & Hopkins, 1996a, b). Inde e d, we would observe that it is precise ly because of the conse quence s of social cate gory definitions for the scope and dire ction of colle ctive action that argume nts about such issue s are felt important and the re fore exist. THE PLACE OF CATEGORY ARGUMENTS IN POLITICAL MOBILIZATION If both the scope and the content of colle ctive action is de te rmined by cate gory de finitions the n we could expe ct this to have implications for mobilization rhetoric. First, we could e xpe ct activist speake rs to de fine the cate gory boundarie s so as to include as many of the audie nce as possible . Second, if the speake rs vie ws are to be perceived as re le vant for othe rs, we may e xpe ct the cate gory boundarie s to be constructe d so that the spe aker and audie nce are defined in te rms of a common cate gorization and oppositio n activists re pre se nte d as standing outside this cate gory.


Hopkins an d Reich er

Third, as attitude s and be haviors are adopte d according to their perceived congrue nce with the relevant se lf-de finition, we could expe ct the relationship betwee n the spe akers propose d attitude s/behaviors and the cate gory use d to de fine the audie nce to be constructe d so as to be congrue nt (and those of the opposition as incongrue nt). While the term argume nt conveys the notion that category de finitions are constructe d and disse minate d through language , it is also important to re cognize that this occurs in a conte xt where the re are alte rnative category constructions in circulation (Billig, 1987) . Thus, at the same time as e xploring the ways in which a particular definition is constructe d, it is also important to conside r how the se opposition alte rnative s are represented and the ways in which the pre fe rre d construction unde rmines them. In order to de monstrate the utility of this formulation, we now conside r the debate about abortion and the role of cate gory argume nts in defining the de bate s protagonists and the nature of their positions. ARGUING ABOUT ABORTION

The re le vance of the Protagorian maxims that the re are two sides to eve ry issue and humans are the measure of all things is graphically illustrate d if one conside rs the status of the human fe tus. This entity may be conside re d to be both similar to and differe nt from childre n or adult persons and its cate gorization is the refore ine vitably de pende nt upon the argume ntative construction of particular attribute s as rele vant for our judgment. Furthe r, as the weighing of the se argume nts about the e xiste nce , rele vance , and value of the se dimensions is inextricably linke d with a communitys beliefs and value s, the cate gorization of the fe tus is ine vitably a social choice (Condit, 1990) in which as Knutson puts it pe ople are defined by people (Knutson, 1967, p. 7). The socially chose n nature of the dimensions according to which the fe tus may be categorize d is well illustrate d in social anthropologic al (Williamson, 1978; Minturn, 1989; Morgan, 1989) and e thnographic (Kovit, 1978) studie s. Howe ve r, the controve rsy around abortion is not re stricte d to the status of the fe tus: people also argue ove r the meaning of abortion, the nature of the abortion debate s protagonists, and their re lationship with wider publics. Inde ed, in kee ping with our gene ral position, there is evidence that activists in the de bate se ek to name or frame the issue so as to broade n the constitue ncy to which their position appe als (Mall, 1981) . By way of e xample , conside r the symbolic significance of the name s used by campaign groups oppose d to the U.S. Equal Rights Amendme nt and abortion: name s such as Wome n Conce rne d for America and FLAG (Family, Life , America, God) frame d these as threats to the American

Ps ych ology of Collective Action


way and so construe d the oppone nts of the se measure s as representing (and defending) the national community against a subve rsive opposition (cited in Cobb & Elder, 1983; Marshall, 1985) . Reciprocally, pro-abortion activists have sought to disse minate alte rnative de finitions of the debate and alternative cate gorie s for action. Inde ed, as the ide ntification of political inte rests is bound up with the ways in which people re pre sent (or cate gorize ) the mselves, it is no surprise to find that pro-abortion activists have be en active ly involve d in constructing and disseminating new politicize d colle ctive identitie s for women which make talk of abortion as a right possible and meaningful (Brodie , Gavigan, & Jenson, 1992; Condit, 1990) . Howe ve r, while analyse s of the abortion de bate provide mate rials which illustrate the general point that the argume ntative construction of an issue and people s relationship with it is a key mome nt in political mobilization, the re is little de taile d analysis of how e ithe r pro- or anti-abortion rhe toric is organize d to allow colle ctive mobilization. Inste ad, analyse s have concentrate d on the developme nt of campaigning ne tworks and alliance s (e.g., Stagge nborg, 1991) or aspe cts of within-move ment rhetoric (V ande rford, 1989; Soloman, 1980) . Furthe r, where more public rhe toric has be en conside re d it has come from parliame ntary debate s, ne ws media, submissions to judicial inquirie s, etc. While particularly appropriate for analyse s of official de cision-making, such materials are not always ide al for analyse s of rhe toric de signe d to mobilize public action. For example , parliame ntary debate s, by their very nature can only involve MPs (rathe r than activists) and are unusual in that it is not at all clear who the audie nce actually is (othe r MPs in the chambe r? membe rs of the judiciary? news he adline writers? ). Similarly, the structure of parliame ntary de bate is distinctive with regard to the le ngth of contributions, the ritualize d language , the numbe r and place of interruptions, and so on. Conse que ntly, while demonstrating some thing of the range of constructions, they are unsuitable for analyse s of the sustaine d argume ntation of mass mobilization. Else whe re, we have applie d our analysis of the role of cate gory construction in mass mobilization to a spe cific piece of public abortion-re late d rhe toric: a spe ech delive red by a le ading U.K. anti-abortion spe aker to an audie nce of me dical stude nts/staff at a te aching hospital ( Hopkins & Re iche r, 1992; Re iche r & Hopkins, 1996a) . In this spe e ch, me mbe rs of the audie nce were addre ssed as members of the medical profe ssion with the speake r constructing a contradiction betwee n this ide ntity and abortion. For example , abortion was construe d as contradicting the core value s of the category and those practitione rs willingly involve d in its (le gal) provision, characte rize d as a nonprofe ssional out-group. O the r example s of cate gory-re lated argume ntation were to be found whe n the spe aker con-


Hopkins an d Reich er

structe d a broade r more inclusive cate gory which include d himse lf, his audience , and othe rs (e .g., enviornme ntalists, activists concerned about animal welfare , e tc.) and de fine d it in contradistinction from anothe r broad category of pe ople (whose value s le ad them to tole rate the exploitation of nature for pe rsonal gain) . Thus, although not himself able to claim membership of the medical profe ssion, the speake r and audie nce were, at this highe r order of abstraction, defined as common cate gory membe rs and our analysis e xplore d the ways in which this construction of an in-group relationship allowe d him to represe nt himself and his anti-abortion vie ws as not only re le vant for this audie nce but as arising from their identity. While we cannot know whe ther audie nce membe rs acce pted these cate gory constructions, we fe e l that our analysis provide s prim a facie evide nc e for t he im por tan c e of c ate go ry ar gum e n tatio n in polit ic al mobilization. Howe ve r, the ge neral applicability of our frame work may be que stione d for it could be argue d that the promine nce of category-re late d argume ntation in this spee ch was due to the distinctive nature of the audience (membe rs of a profe ssional occupational category at their workplace ) and that our framework would be of le ss use in making sense of the conte nt of spee che s addre ssing more he te roge ne ous audie nce s. In orde r to e xamine the wide r applicability of our analysis of the place of category argume ntation in organizing colle ctive action, this pape r analyze s a spee ch give n to just such an audie nce . Be fore procee ding, we conside r se veral aspe cts of anti-abortion rhe toric de signe d for mass public consumption. ANTI-ABORTION ARGUMENTATION AND GENERAL AUDIENCES The historical de pe nde nce of the anti-abortion position on re ligious argume ntation has meant that anti-abortion communicatio n with general public audie nce s has ofte n bee n difficult (Hopkins & Re iche r, 1992) . While meaningful within the re levant (e.g., re ligious) communitie s, this discourse has had little widespre ad resonance and has isolate d anti-abortionists from large se ctions of an increasingly secular society. An important re sponse to the mismatch betwee n this rhe toric and wider public audie nce s has be en the atte mpt to establish the fully human status of the fe tus through othe r means. O f particular inte re st has be en the use of photographic image ry (Condit, 1990; Petchesky, 1987; Mall, 1981; Danie ls, 1993) . Thre e feature s of this material stand out. First, the se image s are highly se lected and cut so as to maximize the perceived similarity betwee n fetus and neonate . For example , one particularly powerful image is of the fe et of a 10-we ek-old fe tus he ld be tween an adult s finge rs. Although a 10-we e k-old fe tus looks very diffe rent from a ne wborn, their fe tal fee t are visually similar. When photographe d in such a way that the adult s finge rs holding the fetus quite

Ps ych ology of Collective Action


literally obscure the visual diffe re nce s betwee n it and the newborn, we are le d to se e the fe et as standing in for the whole and hence pe rceive a small human being (Condit, 1990, p. 88) . Second, the se picture s are read through a le ns of cultural meanings. For example , Condit argue s that in Western socie ties, the code for what is visually human is ve ry broad and that in a culture where eve n the bright look in a dog s e ye can be interpre te d as pe rsonality (Condit, 1990, p. 85) it was not surprising that fe tal picture s could be read as human be ings and the richly e mbedde d cultural meanings of human be ing ascribe d to the m (Condit, 1990, p. 211) . Third, although highly sele cted and cut so as to be read through the se cultural le nse s, the appare nt obje ctivity of photographic mate rials (their appe arance of be ing a mechanical analogue of re ality and a message without a code ; Barthe s, 1982, cite d in Pe tche sky, 1987, p. 269) obscure s the argum entative nature of the se image s. Inde e d, their association with medical science has allowe d an inevitably highly constructe d image of the fe tus to be represented as a fact the reby laying the basis for the gene ralization of an anti-abortion position to a much wider audie nce than that within reach of more traditional argume ntation. Given the central role of visual image ry in anti-abortion mate rials designe d for ge ne ral audie nces (e .g., le afle ts, poste rs, adve rts), it was little surprise to find that it playe d a promine nt role in the spe ech de live red to the gene ral audie nce that we analyze here . O f course , the fact that it was so promine nt make s the spe ech particularly inte resting. While there has bee n some atte ntion to the content and organization of such photography (se e Condit, 1990; Pe tche sky, 1987) there has bee n little e xploration of the ways in which our re adings of such image s are dire cted by ve rbal argume ntation. Howe ver, Condit obse rve s that this analysis is particularly important: on the ir own visual image s are rathe r ine xplicit and a picture is pote ntially a thousand differen t words (Condit, 1990, p. 81, original emphasis) . Thus, the analysis of this speech provide s an opportunity to conside r the argumentation surrounding such image ry and inde e d this image rys place in cate gory definition.

THE SPEECH The speech, involving a slide prese ntation, was give n by a senior male official from the U.K. Socie ty for the Prote ction of the Unborn Child (SPUC) to stude nts at a public mee ting organize d by a stude nt anti-abor4 tion society. Transcribe d, it runs to 15 and a half page s of single -spaced

The speech was given in a lecture theatre at Dundee University, Scotland, in 1993. Of course it is possible to conce ive of a student audience as differing from an ideal general audience


Hopkins an d Reich er

te xt. After some introductory comme nts re fe rring to a conte mporary le gal judgme nt concerning e uthanasia, the spe aker turne d to abortion and the slide prese ntation be gan. A total of te n slide s were shown. First, five slide s depicted the fetus at various stage s of developme nt. In seque nce the y were : a fetus at 6 and half weeks (shown inside an amniotic sac hanging be tween the finge rs of a doctor) ; a 10-we ek-old fetuss fe et (the re st of the body was masked by an adult s finge rs); fetuse s at 11 or 12 wee ks; 16 weeks; 23 wee ks. Se cond, four slide s of dismembe re d aborte d fetuse s were presented as he describe d common abortion procedure s. Finally, and as a conclusion, a slide of an intact 10-we e k-old fe tus was presented.

ANALYSIS Th e Issue: Abortion as Killin g The general framing of the issue at hand (offere d in his introduction) dre w a paralle l be tween abortion and the war in Northe rn Ire land. Indee d, he note d that recently there had be en: 1. The three thou sandth death, the three thousan dth victim of the troubles in North ern Ireland, which coin cidentally began in 1967, the year the Abortion Act was passed, the three thou san dth victim s life was claim ed on , you know, all sides of the tragic circum stan ces surroun ding Northern Irelan d. Every single week in hospitals, in Britain, three thousand five hun dred unborn children are killed. Now, what on e has to m ake up on es m in d abou t on this issu e, is, is the unborn child a fellow hu m an or not? To m y m in d, that is the crunch issue an d everything else, if you like is dependen t upon that answer. If the answer you arrive at, lets say after this evening, is no, the unborn child is not a fellow hum an bein g, then thats fin e, lets forget abou t it. But if the answer is yes, the un born child is a fellow hu m an being, then how do we face up to the fact that three thousan d five hu nd red are killed? O ne hour late r, the prese ntation conclude d with the final slide and the se words: 2. Here we have an embryo, a fetus of 10 weeks growing in the wom b and the wom b has becom e the m ost dan gerou s place on earth to be: one baby is killed for every fou r babies that are born .
and imagine argumentative constructions which are specifically designed to appeal to students in terms of value s associated with age or education (e .g., academic rationality). Howe ver, we believe that a student audience may be seen as exemplifying many of the features of a more ge neral public audience: while a spe aker faced with a medical audience working in a hospital has an audie nce for whom a specific occupational identity is particularly meaningful and which presents itself as a fairly obvious focus for atte ntion, a general student audience offers no such distinctive identity to work with.

Ps ych ology of Collective Action


O verall, the se paralle ls imply a dire ct comparability betwee n the fe tus and the adult person and betwee n abortion and killing. Before turning to how this definition of the he art of the debate was de ve lope d through his construction of the fe tus le t us conside r his construction of the debate s protagonists and their relationship with the audie nce. Th e Protagon ists an d Th eir Style of Argu m entation A major proble m facing U.K. anti-abortion propagandists is the widespre ad public support for acce ss to le gal abortions (Francombe , 1989) which means that they are particularly vulne rable to argume nts which define the m and the ir ide as as unre pre se ntative and marginal to public opinion. At the start of the speech, the speake rs construction of SPUC took steps to counte r such a construction: 3. We have tradition ally over the past 25 years gath ered m ost of ou r support from youn g people which is why we are a growin g society. We have six an d a half thou san d new m embers last year an d given that we are, as well as bein g an education al organ isation , an organ isation dedicated to prom otin g research, dedicated to prom otin g knowled ge on the unborn child, we are also a non-party political organ isation an d I thin k for an y group to be developin g that fast, if it was an y political party that had six an d a half thou sand new paid up m em bers in the cou rse of the year, I thin k they wou ld be pretty happy. This construe s his own position as one which has a growing base . Furthe r, it is re pre se nte d as base d upon re se arch with his own mode of communication involving e ducation and the disse mination of knowle dge . This theme was also manife ste d in his use of research scientists findings to back up his claims as well as in his invitation for the audie nce to conduct its own re search: 4. So, in cidentally, I don t expect you to swallow what I say, I don t expect you to ju st believe what I say hook, lin e and sin ker. But I do expect people to check on what I say and I also expect people to check on what the pro-abortion lobby says on these issu es, go back an d check. I thin k its terribly im portant when so m an y claim s on so m any issu es are con stantly m ade, we should always go back an d check. With his own style of argume ntation de fine d as e ducational and ope n to rational appraisal, he de fine d the opposition s as devious. For example , he argue d that the media collaborate d with the pro-abortion lobby and silenced de bate with this be ing illustrate d by a story of how a radio phone in presenter switched off a SPUC member mid-sente nce and proceeded in the rest of the program me to refer to her as that clown who was talking ou t of her backside . This contrast betwee n the protagonists style of ar-


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gumentation implie d that pro-abortion sentiments only circulate because prope r de bate is silence d with the corollary that public support for abortion is based on misinformation. This theme was develope d through the construction of a serie s of commonalitie s betwee n anti-abortionists and public opinion. O ne ste p was to e mphasize the re ceptive ne ss of the public to SPUC argume ntation: 5. I am sure that m an y if not all of you here this evening will be encouraged to know that education, persisten ce an d giving people access to the truth, giving people access to facts from objective sou rces, does actually work. People are fundam entally open to the truth an d you know, the on e thing we have to guard again st, and I thin k it goes wider, than , in in than , ju st on the defence of the sanctity of hum an life. What we have to guard again st are those in ou r com m unity who seek to stop a particu lar poin t of view bein g expressed by variou s intim idatory m easu res. O verall, this defines anti-abortionist argume ntation as having a natural resonance with public opinion and construe s pro-abortion activists as be ing a small and de viant group who fail to prope rly represent both the conte nts of wide r opinion and the appropriate style of argume nt. The implication that people would adopt an anti-abortion position if only free and ope n debate were allowe d is made quite explicit whe n he argue d that 99.99% of studen ts would be anti-abortion if given the facts. A second ste p in building a consonance be tween anti-abortionist argum entation and the wide r constitue ncy of public opinion involve d the representation of the content of anti-abortion argume ntation as commonse nse . For e xample whe n discussing the argum e nt that without le gal abortion there would be dange rous back stre et abortions he argue d that: 6. Theres an awfu l lot of good pro-life people who fin d this a difficu lt argum ent. When I say, good pro-life people, I m ean people who are natu rally pro-life, bu t ju st don t, you know, they have been convin ced by the constant m edia repetition of this argum ent. And again, we have to do two thin gs, theres the com m on -sense of the m um and dad, who have seen their baby on the ultra soun d m achin e at the hospital; there is the com m on sense way of looking at this argum ent. And there is also the hard evidence. This constructs a body of people who, though appare ntly supporting the availability of legal abortions, are in essence naturally pro-life and against abortion. Furthe r, his invocation of com m on -sense in his discussion of how to communicate with such pe ople implie s a fundame ntal congrue ncy betwee n what people naturally think or fee l and the anti-abortion message . This militate s against constructions of anti-abortionists as outside mainstre am opinion and inde ed implie s that the y are simply articulating what pe ople alre ady know but may have lost sight of because of the constan t m edia repetition . A particularly intere sting fe ature of this

Ps ych ology of Collective Action


construction concerns the way in which this pro-life common-se nse is constructe d through reference to the vie ws and expe rience s of quite specific people (i.e., the m um an d dad, who have seen their baby on the ultra soun d m achine at the hospital ). The se lection of the se pe ople to stand in for the whole (i.e., public opinion) is important be cause such people stand in a particular relationship to the fetus. Such people have willingly acce pte d the pre gnancy, de ve lope d a se nse of re sponsibility for it, and, through their actual and anticipate d re organization of the ir live s, welcome d the fe tus as a se parate entity into their live s (Lumle y, 1980; Stainton, 1985) . As such, social and relational factors are so important in the ascription of fe tal personhood (Minturn, 1989; Morgan, 1989) , and the willingly pregnant like ly to se e the fe tus in qualitative ly diffe rent ways from the unwillingly pregnant (Maquire , 1989) , the construction of such figure s as represe ntative s of e veryday common-se nse is important for the audie nce is e ncourage d to see what such willing pare nts may see : a baby person. Furthe r, ge neralizing a construction of the fe tus which is actually continge nt upon particular social relations to all is important because it has the effe ct of represe nting a highly constructe d pe rception of the fetus as natural and ine vitable . Inde ed, the definition of such a construction of the fe tus as common-se nse implie s that it is not his construction (and he nce one that is constructe d and intere sted) but a neutral description of what eve ryone knows. Again this not only naturalize s a particular construction of the fetus (see below) but give s substance to his claim that there are broad congrue ncie s be tween himse lf and the common-se nse of the community. Inde ed, these two issues are intricate ly relate d: the anti-abortion position is re pre se nte d as base d upon the common-se nse knowle dge that every ordinary pe rson has. Having outline d his re pre se ntation of the protagonists in te rms of their style of argume ntation and his represe ntation of the commonalitie s be tween himself and his audie nce in terms of the form and conte nt of their argumentation, we can now more prope rly turn to his construction of the fe tus.

Th e Fetu s Constru cting the Fetus as a Hum an Person 7. Now, you were you an d I was m e at the m om ent of conception . When sperm and ovum un ite in fertilisation , the com plete gen etic in form ation is present, that spells ou t the characteristics, that you are goin g to have ginger hair, 6 foot tall, be good at m aths or m usic, m aybe a great athlete, m aybe you will develop som e sort of heart condition . All these characteristics are there in the sin gle cell with which we all began .


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Here there is a se lection of a serie s of dime nsions of similarity/diffe rence (and a de finition of their significance ) which creates a powe rful se nse of continuity in personal identity. Furthe r, it is one which is of personal significance for e very living adult; e ach of us is invite d to se e a range of attribute s of e normous significance for our curre nt se nse of personhood as being similarly present in the fe rtilize d ovum. This sense of continuity is develope d in his commentary upon the first slide (which feature s a vague ly discernible e mbryo in its amniotic sac which was remove d as it was an e ctopic pre gnancy): 8. This slide dem on strates how viable the embryo is, what a tremendou s determ ination to live the embryo has, becau se even though its in the wrong place, its not bein g very clever, its not showin g m uch foresight, which is a very hu m an characteristic, the embryo carries on growin g in the tube becau se it has the right nutrien ts surrou ndin g it: thu s test-tube babies, which grow first of all in the petrie-dish . Viability, often used to diffe re ntiate be tween stage s of fe tal de ve lopme nt (and hence le gitimate abortion at particular developme ntal stage s), is construe d to dissolve such distinctions and advance instead a sense of continuity. Furthe r, the embryo is ascribe d an age ncy (a tremendous determination to live) which, through its construction as error-prone , appe ars distinctive ly hu m an . In his comme ntary upon the se cond slide (showing two fe tal fee t and introduce d as on e of the m ost upsettin g pictures we show, becau se these two perfectly form ed feet were attached to a perfectly form ed tin y body) he again ascribe s the fe tus an age ncy: 9. Mothers to be an d fathers to be, rou tinely see these days, their children developin g in the wom b, m oving arou nd in the wom b as early as 7 weeks when spon tan eous m ovem ents begin and one lawyer m ember of ours said he saw his unborn child doin g the breast-stroke in the wom b. And we m ove with m uch m ore agility an d co-ordin ation an d ease an d grace of m ovem ent in the wom b where we are surrou nd ed by am niotic fluid, where you know, in those early weeks in the wom b we have tremendou s space in which the tin y hum an can m ove aroun d, its on ly a couple of in ches lon g, bu t everythin g is there an d the baby leaps arou nd like a ballet dan cer, like an acrobat. (Exclude d material) It can also m ake com plex facial expression s an d even sm ile . The naming of movements (as swim m ing, sm ilin g, etc.) construe s the m as controlle d or purpose ful, and furthe r, be cause it ascribe s the m a social significance allows us to perceive a sense of continuity betwee n ourselve s as we are now and as we were then. This is develope d whe n he argue s that we moved with more ease and grace in the womb thereby implying that the only difference be tween these stage s of our pe rsonal e xiste nce is that we have lost something. O nce again it is note worthy that

Ps ych ology of Collective Action


our perspe ctive on the fetus is constructe d through the e ye s and e xpe rie nce s of quite spe cific pe ople ; willing pare nts watching the ultrasound vide o-scre en. Again, this invite s us to vie w the fe tus through the eyes of particular social actors and so not only e ncourage s us to ascribe the fe tus the status ascribe d by those positione d in this re lationship (Maquire , 1989) but grounds this highly constructe d image in the direct expe rience of e veryday othe rs. Else whe re, the se same constructions were grounde d in the dire ct e xperience and hard eviden ce (c.f. extract 6) of scie ntists. For e xample he cited one leadin g geneticist as obse rving that those involve d in the first te st-tube baby: 10. . . . knew with absolu te certainty, that the being that was created in a petrie-dish would develop into nothing other than a m ature hu m an if it just developed in the norm al way and didn t die on rou te, that they cou ld be absolu tely certain it wasn t a m ole, it was a m ember of the hu m an fam ily an d I say, they put it very sim ply them selves: Sh e looked beautifu l in the test tube, she looks beautiful now. Her beauty in the petrie dish and her beauty as a newborn, create a powe rful se nse of continuity such that our cultural response to the latte r is applie d to the forme r. O f particular intere st is the way in which the ascription of attribute s associate d with personhood is made easier through the argume nt that they could be absolutely certain it wasn t a m ole, it was a m ember of the hum an fam ily. Simply put, the ambiguity concerning what being a m ember of the hu m an fam ily e ntails, means that our agre ement with the statement that this be ing is human (and not a mole ) may encourage us to ascribe to it all of those things that we associate with hum an beings . Others Constructions of the Fetu s At the same time alte rnative constructions of the fetus were characte rised so as to rende r them unte nable . O ne strategy was to prese nt a se ries of diffe rent crite ria for categorization ( you ll get som e who say hum an life begin s then, you ll get others who say, n o, it begin s when the baby starts m oving, you ll get others who ll say no, it begin s when the babys heart starts beating) and conclude on the basis of this range of constructions that: 11. So, we see there is a com plete incon sistency in the argum ent, as there m ust be if you claim as any other starting poin t that which can be shown to be the case from a scientific poin t of view that hum an in dividual developm ent begin s from con ception . Any other point is com pletely arbitrary.


Hopkins an d Reich er

Charge s of inconsiste ncy are freque ntly obse rve d in argume ntation (Billig, 1987) and are of special inte re st he re for the y turn attention to the opposition s argume ntation while de tracting atte ntion from aspe cts of his own. Inde e d, his ridiculing of othe rs argume ntation surrounding the sele ction of feature s as a basis for cate gorizing the fetus is inte re sting because it se emingly de nies the possibility of social categorization at all and thereby obscure s the fact that his own cate gorization is similarly base d upon the active singling out and construction of dimensions of similarity and continuity. This tactic of advancing a cate gorization as natural or give n through appare ntly denying the possibility of cate gorization was also to be found in his de scription of how a pro-abortionist (Profe ssor We ndy Savage ) had re sponde d to an anti-abortion ist in a TV de bate . During the programme the latte r held up a plastic mode l of a fe tus declaring 12. Look this is what we are talkin g abou t. This is a baby of 18 weeks. and Professor Wendy Savage shou ted across the room , the studio: Thats not a baby, its a fetus. Now, all of us have differen t technical nam es as we go through lifes jou rney. We begin as embryos, we go on to be fetuses, when we are born the doctors call us neon ates, we becom e in fants, toddlers, children , adolescen ts, adults, geriatrics an d so on. I have yet to hear of a proud new father looking over the cot of his new born baby and saying: What a lovely neonate Ive got. (some audie nce laughte r) If he did, I thin k it would say m ore abou t him and his state of m in d than it would abou t the hu m anity of his baby. Well, its quite proper for the doctor to call it a neon ate, its qu ite proper for the doctor to call the unborn child a fetus, bu t you start usin g nam es like that deliberately and you could qu estion what is Professor Wendy Savage trying to do? Sh e is tryin g to foist a particular attitude towards the unborn child an d towards the un born child s rights on to the viewers on that particu lar occasion and you know, using nam es to distance people from the hum an reality of the un born child, this is a com m on ploy in all great cam paigns for and against hu m an rights, in particular instan ces. This construe s the opposition s use of the cate gory fetus as a spe cific instance of their general de viousne ss. Thus, while both pro- and anti-abortionists se e k to adva n ce partic ula r c onstruc tio ns of the fe tus, his construction of the opposition s motive s detracts from the argume ntative substance behind it, and through the contrast that it implie s, rende rs his own as disinte rested. That his pre fe rre d construction should be see n as a nonconte stable de scription of reality is develope d by his dismissal of the rele vance of the distinctions implie d by such categorizations as ne onate or adole scent. Defining them as merely technical has the effe ct of detracting atte ntion from the way in which our cate gorizations are bound up with comple x public de libe ration about the meaning of adulthood and the degre e to which the rights of adulthood can be claime d by othe rs (Arie s,

Ps ych ology of Collective Action


1962) . In effe ct, this constitute s an argume nt against argume nts which do support a differentiation betwee n human beings according to stage and so allows him to advance his own cate gorization in such a way as to give the impression that it is unconstructe d.

The Fetus in Words an d Pictures. The inte raction be tween the visual image ry on the scree n and his discursive re pre sentation of the fe tus was especially appare nt in those se ctions of his spe ech whe re he sought to contrast his own and the opposition s cate gorization. For example , while the image of two fe tal fe et linge red on scree n he comme nte d; 13. Now, this is when the pro-abortion lobby will talk abou t a safe, early abortion , an early abortion which is just a blob of jelly, they will argue. I ask you , a blob of jelly with two feet and can m ake com plex facial expression s and even sm ile! So, that when we begin to exam in e un emotionally, objectively, the kind of argum ents pu t forward by the pro-abortion lobby, we find that they just don t stan d up to scrutiny. That they can be rebu ffed by the observation of an ordinary m um and dad who ve never read an article in the British Medical Journal , but they can also be rebuffed by a learned article read by doctors throughout the world . With this characte rization of the opposition s construction of the fe tus and the sharp contrast betwee n the amorphous shape le ss form of a blob of jelly and the pre cisely de fined fe et on the scree n, the audie nce is invite d to judge and reje ct the opposition s claim ( I ask you , a blob of jelly with two feet and can m ake com plex facial expression s an d even sm ile! ). That this is the appropriate re sponse is de ve lope d through the argume nt that the opposition s construction can be rebuffed by the observation of an ordinary m um an d dad who ve never read an article in the British Me dical Journal. The use of the e ye s and voice s of willing pare nts was similarly appare nt in his observations about the slide showing a 23-we e k-old fe tus: 14. Here we have a baby girl who was christened Kelly, who was born very, very prem aturely at 23 weeks. You can see how tin y she is from the nu rses weddin g ring on her forearm here and when she was born , the doctors an d nu rses did everythin g they possibly could to enable her to survive. Sadly she died of pn eum onia which is a com m on enough fate for a baby born this prem ature becau se of the im m aturity of the lu ngs, but when she died it was a little baby girl called Kelly who died. It wasn t a piece of tissue that had been got rid of, or a blob of jelly. It was a little baby girl called Kelly who died an d the doctors and nu rses and paren ts m ou rned her passing. But, the fact is, that


Hopkins an d Reich er

possibly at the sam e hospital at possibly the sam e day in Britain , a baby possibly the sam e age would have been taken an d put in to an incin erator lawfully, or pu t in to a kidney dish and left to die, the only difference wou ld be that this is a so called wan ted baby an d the other is a so called unwanted baby. So, people are given hum an rights accordin g depen ding on their degree of wan tedness. The choice of a slide of a wante d fe tus again invite s the audie nce to se e the fe tus through the e ye s of people who have welcome d the pre gnancy and are like ly to ascribe the fetus a distinctive social status. Inde ed, the act of naming is a practice associate d with social birth (Minturn, 1989; Morgan, 1989) and powerfully conve ys her welcome into a social community. Again the important point here is that a se nse of pe rsonhood that is continge nt on a particular social re lationship (and which affe cts our re ading of the visual image be fore us) is unive rsalize d so that all fe tuses are se e n as Kellys rathe r than as pieces of tissue or blobs of jelly and as a corollary, the pro-abortion construction ridicule d as wholly inade quate . So far, we have de scribed the speake rs construction of the protagonists re lationship with ordinary people and explore d the way in which a particular construction of the fetus was made to see m obvious. Let us now look at the construction of women.

Wom en an d Pro-abor tion ists As anti-aborti onists spe ak in a conte xt in which the y are vulne rable to constructions which de fine the m as re actionary and anti-wome n, we could e xpe ct the spe ake r to de fine the re lationship be twe e n wome n and abortion so as to bre ak the opposition s construction of abortion as e xpre ssing wome n s political inte re sts. Inde e d, in a spe e ch dire cted to a ge ne ral audie nce which se e ks to unive rzalise a particular construction of the fe tus and the act of abortion through pre se nting it as be ing grounde d in e ve ryone s common-se nse knowle dge of re ality, it is vitally important that the spe ake r anticipate alte rnative constructions which could splinte r such a ge ne ral cate gory and ide ntify cate gorie s of pe ople that have a pro-abortio n position base d on political analyse s of wome n s place in socie ty. Be low we conside r how wome n were represented in relation to the fe tus, the act of abortion and the debate s protagonists, and how the construction of the se re lations function e d to se parate wome n from those calling for abortion.

Ps ych ology of Collective Action


The Significant Absen ce of Wom en as Persons At the same time as the fetus was establishe d as a se parate social actor, the woman s presence was obscure d. Thus, as a corollary of re prese nting the fetus as a fre e-floating autonomous being, the woman was re ndere d invisible (e.g., in extract 9 she was reduce d to a backdrop a tremendous space). In similar vein, the woman was repre sented as an environme nt. For e xample , in his discussion of test-tube babie s he argue d that: 15. If the test tube were to say, this baby is m y property, nobody would believe the test tube. And when the pro-abortion lobby argues the baby is part of the m others body, it is exactly, we can m ake exactly the sam e poin t, we have a living hum an growin g in the m others wom b depen den t upon the m other for life, bu t depen den ce does not m ean you are part of the body of which you are depen dent. Construing an equivale nce be tween the test tube and women invite s us to view the woman as akin to a non-animate containe r. This not only supports a clear se nse of the se parate ide ntity of containe r and containe d, but also e ncourage s us to se e the woman as simply a passive environme nt which like the te st-tube is not dramatically affected by the containe d. The construction of woman as containe r was furthe r develope d through the following re pre se ntation of depe nde ncy: 16. All of us were dependen t on som e body when we were born, we were not part of the people upon whom we were dependen t. My baby gran ddaughter was born prem atu rely at thirty weeks, was dependen t upon the incubator in the first several weeks of her life. She did not stop being part of her m others body when she was born prem aturely at thirty weeks and start to be part of an incubator. We recognised her as Han nah who requ ired a particular environ m ent in which to live and we all require a particular environm ent in which to live . Again, the analogy be tween the woman and the incubator is powe rful because it defines the woman as an inanimate containe r that is unchange d by the presence of the fetus. With no se nse of the woman s pe rsonhood and no se nse of the re ciprocal relationship betwee n woman and fetus, we have little sense of how the woman s personhood is affe cted by the change s of pre gnancy and hence no se nse of the woman as a pe rson able to articulate claims about her body. Wom en as Onlookers That wome n may articulate de mands for abortion was also counte red by a construction of the de bate s protagonists which defined wome n as on-


Hopkins an d Reich er

looke rs while others advocate d abortion on the grounds of cost-cutting. This construction of the logic behind abortion occurred while the image of the 23-we ek-old Kelly linge red on screen (5th slide , e xtract 14) . Having contraste d the care e xte nde d to Kelly with the abortion of similarly age d othe rs, he argue d that most of the children who are killed after 24 wee ks are handicappe d and that the Departme nt of Health and some doctors prom ote the killin g of the disabled for explicitly fin ancial reasons . Thus, while his earlie r construction of women as e nvironme nts meant that the re was an absence of women as persons, the disability example allows him to represent women as particular sorts of pe rsons: those that despe rate ly want the ir babie s and who are forced into abortion in a m om ent of pan ic because of the pre ssures impose d upon the m by othe rs.

Wom en as Victim s In addition to the above , the speake r also constructe d women s he alth as a dire ct victim of abortion: 17. Now, post-abortion syndrom e is a disorder which is in exactly within the sam e sort of pattern as other post traum atic stress disorders which is som ething first recognised in war veterans, whereby if you like, behaviour pattern s in these veterans m ight cu lm in ate in som e dram atic inciden t or other an d m assive eviden ce was built up to show that all sorts of behaviou r patterns really related back to som e unresolved trau m a that they had experien ced while fighting in Vietnam and un fortun ately becau se, you know, there is a tremendou sly growin g body of eviden ce, you ll see it in popu lar wom en s m agazines, you ll see it in seriou s m edical jou rnals, showin g that wom en need to go throu gh a natural grievin g process followin g m iscarriage; theyre m ou rning their lost child. They don t talk after all, they say, I lost m y baby, they do not talk about havin g aborted a fetus which is perhaps a m ore accurate technical way of puttin g it. They say theyve lost their baby. And there is the sam e sort of recognition about abortion . The expe rience of a woman who is willingly pregnant and de sperately wants a child (and here has a miscarriage ) is once again made to stand in for all wome n s e xpe rie nce s. While before this meant that a construction of the fe tus continge nt upon a particular re lationship was generalize d and naturalize d, a similar effe ct is obtaine d here for women. In othe r words, the expe rience s of a woman who has de fine d herself and he r fetus in terms of a mothe rchild relationship is made to stand in for the whole . As a conse quence we see all pre gnant women as viewing their fe tuses as unborn childre n and as e xpe rie ncing the same sense of loss after abortion as that suffe red by a woman afte r miscarriage . Note too how the meaningle ssness

Ps ych ology of Collective Action


of the categorization fe tus is conve ye d and how this again advance s his own as dire ctly arising from wome n s e xpe rience. Furthe r, this construction of women s e xpe rience has conseque nce s for othe rs atte mpts to represe nt abortion as an important ele ment of women s political inte rests. Thus, inste ad of be ing an expre ssion of women s inte re sts, abortion is represented as ine vitably harmful with the implication being that it is the anti-abortionists that best re pre sent women s interests. This is forcefully conve yed when the spe ake r re fe rs to the pro-abortion campaigne rs slogan a woman s right to choose and their opposition to anti-abortion education : their opposition shows that the y can never prope rly re pre sent wome n be cause: 18. They want a wom an s right to choose but they don t want a wom an s right to know what she s choosing. DISCUSSION Ine vitably, the application of our the ore tical analysis to specific instanc e s of com mun ication e ntails a proce ss of active in te rpre tation . Howe ver, we hope to have provide d the reade r with e nough mate rial to be able to judge the argume nt that it is useful to pay close atte ntion to how the content of political rhetoric constructs social cate gorie s and category contents. More spe cifically we hope to have demonstrate d that this discourse defines both anti-abortionists and audie nce as common-cate gory membe rs, and re pre se nts the anti-abortion construction of the fe tus as firmly grounde d in, and inde e d as arising from, the common-se nse knowledge and eve ryday expe rience s of a cate gory of people whose boundarie s are so wide ly se t as to include all ordinary /e ve ryday people . Furthe r, we hope to have provide d a fine -graine d analysis of the rhe toric use d to de fine the conte nts of this cate gory. Thus, our analysis highlights the way in which the e xpe rie nce s of particular pe ople (e .g., ordin ary m um s an d dad s, wome n grie ving ove r miscarrie d babie s, e tc.) were use d to stand in for and de fine the whole . More spe cifically, it e xplore s the way in which the se othe rs e xpe rie nce s imply that the spe ake rs pre fe rre d re pre se ntation of the fe tus (i.e ., as a fully human pe rson) is ne ithe r his, nor argume ntative ly constructe d, but a give n, known by all within the community (and alte rnative constructions of the fe tus construe d as thoroughly marginal) . Furthe r, we hope to have contribute d to an unde rstanding of the ways in which our re ading of visual image ry is dire cted by ve rbal argum e ntation. Se e ing the scree n fe tuse s through the e ye s of willing pare nts allows the se nse of fe tal pe rsonhood continge nt upon that particular social re lationship ( Maquire , 1989) to be ge ne ralize d to all. The re al grie f associate d with miscarriage and the re al e xcite me nt of prospe ctive pare nts be fore an ultrasound scanne r, brings


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the se scree n image s to life in a way which counte rs opposition arguments that anti-aborti onists are pre occupie d with abstract me taphysical and re ligious de bate rathe r than e ve ryday re ality. Inde e d, according to this construction, if anyone ignore s re ality it is the pro-abortio nists who cannot se e what e ve ryone e lse can se e that the fe tus is a human pe rson and that abortion is killing. We would also e mphasize that the powe r and significance of the se constructions can only be prope rly re cognize d if the y are conte xtualize d in relation to the pro-abortion alte rnative s that have some currency. Take for example , the construction of wome n. As the identification of political inte rests (and he nce the de mands for political rights ) is continge nt upon the adoption of particular colle ctive ide ntitie s (c.f. Brodie e t al., 1992) much pro-abortion activity has bee n associate d with the construction and disse mination of politic ize d analyse s of womanhood. For the se re asons, this spe akers construction of women has a spe cial significance : whe re pro-abortion activists have sought to re pre se nt wome n in te rms of a distinctive cate gory with distinctive political demands, they are here either reconstituted as the prototypical representative s of an eve ryday knowle dge which holds that a fetus is a person or as victims of abortion. CONCLUSION As e xplaine d in the introduction, one re ason for analyzing this particular speech was to conside r the de gre e to which our emphasis upon the promine nce of cate gory argume nt could apply to speeches give n to he te roge ne ous public audie nce s as well as audie nce s that may be de fine d in terms of quite spe cific (e.g., occupational) categorie s. Comparing this speech with that give n to medical staff (Hopkins & Reicher, 1992; Reiche r & Hopkins, 1996a) illustrate s major differences in the conte nt of argume ntation. The spe aker addre ssing the medical audie nce argue d that there was a fundame ntal schism in the public s value s and proce e de d to construct an anti-abortion de finition of what it meant to be a profe ssional medical practitio ne r through locating it on one side of this value divide an d in opposition to the othe r. Thus, a striking feature of that spe ech was the e xplicit construction of contrasting social categorie s defined in te rms of the ir value s. When we conside r the pre sent spe ech we find such e xplicit categoryre late d argum e ntatio n to be marke dly abse nt. Howe ve r, our analysis sugge sts that on closer inspe ction there is much to be gaine d from analyzing both speeches in te rms of their argume nts about social category definitions. More spe cifically, our analysis implie s that the key diffe rence betwee n the se spe eches is the le ve l of abstraction at which the cate gorie s use d to represe nt

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the audie nces are defined. In the spe ech directed to the medical audie nce the cate gory was more specific/le ss inclusive and defined through contrasts with othe r cate gorie s. In the spe ech analyze d he re, the cate gory was more ge ne ral and so inclusive as to be almost unive rsal. Furthe r, and as a corollary, the c ate go ry c onte nts we re de fin e d in suc h a way that the anti-abortion construction of the fe tus was construe d as arising from ordinary people s expe rience s and common-se nse knowledge. Thus, although the two speeches differ in the nature of the categorie s used and the manne r in which the ir contents were defined, there is an important sense in which both spee che s can be analyze d for the work that the y do in representing the anti-abortion position as arising from their audie nce s social identitie s. O f course , the detaile d analysis of this anti-abortion spee ch should not be take n as indicating that it is exceptional in any re spe ct: we could e xpe ct to find those se eking to mobilize support for abortion to de vote conside rable atte ntion to constructing and disseminating social cate gory definitions which make mass pro-abortion action possible . Inde ed, in an analysis of the mobilization rhe toric in anothe r domain (Reiche r & Hopkins, 1996b) we describe how spe akers with ve ry different proje cts (those atte mpting to mobilize support for a strike and those atte mpting to mobilize opposition to it) use d similar form s of argume ntation. More spe cifically our analysis showed that although diffe ring in the content of their argume ntation, both constructe d cate gory boundarie s and category contents which represented the ir own position as e mbodying the mass of public opinion and their oppone nts as isolate d and pe riphe ral figure s. Howe ve r, our de cision to analyze this spee ch was made on the ore tical grounds. While we could have comple mented our e arlie r analysis of anti-abortion argume ntation by analyzing pro-abo rtion m obiliz ation rhe toric, we be lie ve that the re is a the oretical case for e xploring cate gory-re late d argume ntation in differe nt conte xts. In particular, we hope to have de monstrate d that eve n in conte xts where one may not expe ct category argume ntation (e.g., whe re the audience cannot be defined in te rms of a distinctive group membership and contraste d from othe rs) it is he lpful to analyze the content of rhetoric for the work that it doe s in constructing social category definitions. O f course , to have de monstrate d the e xiste nce of cate gory-argume ntation in social movement communication is not to say anything about the degre e to which speake rs are consciously aware of their activity. Nor is it to say anything about the re ception give n to particular constructions. Thus, the next stage of our re search program is to conside r the de gre e to which audie nces accept particular category constructions as the basis for the ir action . In this se nse , ou r e m ph asis upo n the im po rtance of cate gory construction in political mobilization must re main provisional. Howe ve r, in the light of the ve ry conside rable e vide nce that social cate gorie s have im-


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portant conseque nce s for cognition and action, we hope to have persuade d the reade r that this approach has some promise . ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The authors wish to thank Jannat Sale e m and Suzanne Z ee dyk for the ir very he lpful comme nts upon an e arlie r draft of this pape r. REFERENCES
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NICK HO PKINS is a Lecturer in Social Psychology at Dundee Unive rsity and has research intere sts in issues conce rning social identity, social influence , social conflict, and political mobilization. STEV E REICHER is a lecturer in Social Psychology at St. Andrews Unive rsity and has rese arch interests in social conflict, social influence , mass/crowd behavior, racism, and the social construction of collective identities.