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Social and Psychological Bases of Ideology and System Justification$
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John T. Jost, Aaron C. Kay, and Hulda Thorisdottir

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195320916

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195320916.001.0001

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Planet of the Durkheimians, Where Community, Authority, and Sacredness Are Foundations of Morality

(p.371) CHAPTER 15 Planet of the Durkheimians, Where Community, Authority, and Sacredness Are Foundations of Morality
Social and Psychological Bases of Ideology and System Justification

Jonathan Haidt

Jesse Graham

Oxford University Press

Most academic efforts to understand morality and ideology come from theorists who limit the domain of morality to issues related to harm and fairness. For such theorists, conservative beliefs are puzzles requiring nonmoral explanations. In contrast, this chapter presents moral foundations theory, which broadens the moral domain to match the anthropological literature on morality. The theory is extended by integrating it with a review of the sociological constructs of community, authority, and sacredness, as formulated by Emile Durkheim and others. Data are presented to support the theory, which also show that liberals misunderstand the explicit moral concerns of conservatives more than conservatives misunderstand liberals. The chapter suggests that what liberals see as a nonmoral motivation for system justification may be better described as a moral motivation to protect society, groups, and the structures and constraints that are often (although not always) beneficial for individuals. Also outlined are the possible benefits of a moral foundations perspective for system justification theory, including better understandings of (a) why the system justifying motive is palliative despite some harmful effects, (b) possible evolutionary origins of the motive, and (c) the values and worldviews of conservatives in general.

Keywords:   authority, community, Durkheim, Durkheimians, social evolution, hypothetical societies, moral foundations theory, sacredness

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