My research focuses on the perception of a purported shift in the moral culture of the United States in recent years, from one in which notions of personal ‘dignity’ were valorized to one in which notions of ‘victimhood’ have become more prominent. In particular, it has been claimed that negative psychological concepts such as abuse, bullying, trauma, mental disorder, addiction, and prejudice “have expanded their meanings so that they now encompass a much broader range of phenomena than before” (Haslam 2016: 1). The project will use the tools and methods of corpus-based discourse analysis to investigate whether and to what extent changes in the meaning and usage of words associated with these negative psychological concepts have occurred, and whether (and if so, how) such changes might be related to broader cultural shifts.
Haslam, N. (2016). ‘Concept creep: Psychology's expanding concepts of harm and pathology.’ Psychological Inquiry 27/1: 1-17.