29 January 2019

Prof Jenny Saul on Dogwhistles

Donald trump waving in front of an american flag

In this video produced for bbc.co.uk, Professor Jenny Saul discusses the technique of "dog whistling", in which politicians activate voters' negative racial attitudes without explicitly saying racist things. This is used to manipulate voters who might harbour such attitudes, but who would not want to vote for someone who they thought of as racist. It is crucial to the success of dogwhistles of this sort that these voters don't recognise what is going on.

Those who want to know more about this might like to read Jenny's paper Dogwhistles, Political Manipulation and the Philosophy of Language. Those who would like to find out how more pessimistic take on what's happening now might like to look at this paper: Racial Figleaves, the Shifting Boundaries of the Permissible, and the Rise of Donald Trump.

Jenny’s work on this issue is associated with the research carried out through the department’s Centre for Engaged Philosophy.

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