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Perspective-taking and the attribution of ignorance

Sammut, Gordon and Sartawi, Mohammad (2012) Perspective-taking and the attribution of ignorance. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 42 (2). pp. 181-200. ISSN 0021-8308

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Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1468-5914.2011.00485.x


Ignorance has been both vilified and celebrated throughout the ages. However, the social sciences have had little to say about this topic over the years. In this paper, we argue that in an age of competing and contrasting worldviews, scholarly attention to ignorance can shed light on interpersonal processes and relational dynamics that occur in encounters between subjects holding different points of view. We discuss data from two studies documenting an attribution of ignorance in social relations that serves to relegate the other's point of view to one that stands in need of education or correction. We argue that this communicative strategy enacts a semantic barrier that serves to retain the interlocutor's original point of view unscathed and unchallenged. We argue that this limits dialogical relations by eliminating the requirement for perspective-taking in social dialogue.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 Wiley-Blackwell
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2012 14:08
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 14:26

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