How does reification work?

13 05 2015

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Abstract

AutomataReification, the process by which social constructions are experienced as real, provides a valuable case study in psychological explanations of political phenomena. This paper uses advances in social cognition to identify the psychological mechanisms by which reification works and political conceptions of reification to show why and where it does so. What emerges is a complex dance of internal cognitive bias and external ideological deception. Reification is no mere ‘cognitive mistake’ and its illusions cannot be easily overcome. As a critical concept, it serves to reveal the psychological processes that lend ideological cover to oppressive power and illuminates the ways that power subtly infects methods of psychological inquiry. The paper seeks to clarify the psychology of reification and the reification of psychology. Even as its critical blade at last cuts itself, reification shows how political psychology can inform the study of the current developments in quantification, bureaucratisation and digitisation.

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