The opening chapters elaborate the theoretical basis and implications of Billig's argument. On the one hand, a rhetorical psychology requires psychologists to address how the wider patterns of society are reflected in the thinking of individuals. On the other, it reveals the significance of a psychological understanding of relations between the individual and society which should, and can, reject an ultimately unsatisfactory view of individuals as "unthinking dupes" of the workings of ideology. The following chapters aim to demonstrate how a rhetorical perspective can be applied empirically. The studies described explore the concept of prejudice, argumentation within the family, common-sense opinions about monarchy, and the operations of ideology in both the very ordinary lives of the young right wing and the extra-ordinary "rationalities" of fascist propaganda. The final chapter returns to some broader themes of rhetoric and ideology. Billig offers a critique of the current modern and post-modern interest in rhetoric and outlines his alternative vision of the "argumentative society".
"Ideology and Opinions" may be interesting reading for social psychologists, sociologists and all those interested in investigating both empirically and theoretically the relations between individuals and society.
`Useful and refreshingly provocative... Billig is excellent in his discussion of the recent apparent split in National Front attitudes to Zionism, Palestine and anti-Semitism... As close and careful studies, these repay scrutiny by anyone interested in the political uses of discourse' - Sociology
`Billig's argument that the nature, as well as the content, of thought is a cultural product, and thus ideological, is significant and original... Billig's book is well informed and a commendable attempt at a truly social psychology... a valuable contribution to social theory' - Discourse & Society
`In this provocative and wonderfully written book, Billig offers a truly collective approach that challenges social psychologists to move beyond individualistic models of social action. His rhetorical approach has profound implications for sociolinguistics, intergroup relations, and ideology and society' - William A Corsaro, Indiana University
`In this lively collection of essays, Michael Billig demonstrates once again that he is a premier social psychologist and rhetorician' - Herbert W Simons, Temple University
`Consolidates and communicates in one place Billig's views about the role and importance of rhetoric, argumentation and ideology in the study of social psychology' - Choice