Quando le persone diventano virus. Una rassegna sulla biologizzazione
In: Minority Reports. Cultural Disability Studies, 2020
The present paper aims to describe and discuss recent studies about biologization, a specific form of dehumanization according to which others are perceived as viruses and contagious entities. This process employs metaphors linked to disease, purity, and protection of cleanliness. The phenomenon will be introduced through research drawn from social psychological literature and by referring to current events. Then, the essay will examine several content investigations that studied biological dehumanization through both discourses and pictures analyses, by showing the role of old and new media in denigrating minority and disadvantaged social groups. Finally, some experimental studies will be illustrated. In particular, the manuscript will describe research that has dealt with biological dehumanization through self-report scales and implicit measurement techniques that have allowed to investigate the automaticity of the process, by examining the nature of its underlying mechanisms, the causes, and consequences, especially in terms of emotions, negative attitudes, and immigration policies. The article concludes with a look at the practical implications of the studies reviewed and the possible directions for future research.