Who Gets Ahead? Cognitive Responses to Heteroglossia in American Political Culture

Document Type



Anthropology (Pitzer)

Publication Date



ideology, cognitive schemas, discourse analysis, working-class consciousness, American political culture


Theories of social practice too often ignore the mediating role of cognitive schemas. This is especially the case in studies of blue-collar workers, whose discourse, taken out of context, seems so inconsistent as to suggest the absence of organized beliefs. This article analyzes the discourse of some Rhode Island workingmen and proposes that they internalize conflicting social ideologies in one of three ways. These three forms of cognitive organization, obscured by superficially similar discourse, mediate behavior differently and respond differently under pressure to change. This model challenges traditional theories of belief.

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American Ethnologist © 1990 American Anthropological Association