Making it abstract, making it contestable: politicization at the intersection of political and cognitive science

Abstract

The notion of politicization has been often assimilated to that of partisanship, especially in political and social sciences. However, these accounts underestimate more fine-grained, and yet pivotal, aspects at stake in processes of politicization. In addition, they overlook cognitive mechanisms underlying politicizing practices. Here, we propose an integrated approach to politicization relying on recent insights from both social and political sciences, as well as cognitive science. We outline two key facets of politicization, that we call partial indetermination and contestability, and we show how these can be accounted for by appealing to recent literature in cognitive science concerned with abstract conceptual knowledge. We suggest that politicizing a concept often implies making its more abstract components more salient, hence legitimating its contestable character. Finally, we provide preliminary suggestions to test our proposal, using the concept of gender as case study.

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