purity spiral

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Used by sociologists Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning.


purity spiral (plural purity spirals)

  1. The situation in which members of an ideological group become increasingly zealous and intolerant, eventually turning on other members.
    • 2016, Matthew Sheffield, Rise of the alt-right: How mainstream conservatives' obsession with purity fueled a new right-wing radicalism[1]:
      [T]he American right has been caught in a purity spiral — a form of vicious circle in which successive elites compete among each other over who is the “true conservative.”
    • 2020, Ed West, Small Men on the Wrong Side of History:
      This institutional slant has become most pronounced in universities, which have for several years gone through a 'purity spiral' as conservatives left the field, culminating in a sort of collective meltdown in the mid-2010s.
    • 2020, Joseph P. Laycock, Speak of the Devil, page 74:
      Many of TST's critics did frame the issue in terms of purity and contamination. In a debate on Facebook, one critic responded to Greaves's essay on purity spirals, "There's an old saying I like 'If there's a Nazi sitting at the table and 10 other people sitting there talking to him, you got a table with 11 nazis.'"

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Bradley Campbell; Jason Manning (2018) The Rise of Victimhood Culture, page 167
  • Gavin Haynes (2020) How knitting fell into a purity spiral[2]