The systems of stereotypes may be the core of our personal tradition, the defenses of our position in society. They are an ordered more or less consistent picture of the world, to which our habits, our tastes, our capacities, our comforts and our hopes have adjusted themselves. They may not be a complete picture of the world, but they are a picture of a possible world to which we are adapted. In that world, people and things have their well-known places, and do certain expected things. We feel at home there. We fit in. We are members.--Walter Lippmann Public Opinion, Chapter VII (emphases added--ES).
In ch. 5 (ms) of Jason Stanley's "How Propaganda Works," Stanley's calls attention to, and discusses the quoted passage from Lippmann's Public Opinion. Stanley's discussion is excellent, and he deploys Lippmpan's accounts of stereotypes, or in Stanley's terminology, 'scripts,' which structure expectations, to explain both how legitimation of ideology works and to explain the role of ideology in generating resistance to rational revision. (An 'ideology' is "simply a social "script" that governs one's expectations, normative and practical.) Thus, Stanley, who uses Hume and Marx (and others) to motivate his approach to ideology, meets Elster's challenge to the Marxist in Sour Grapes (recall), that is, to supply empirically robust psychological and social mechanisms that can secure a consequence explanation of ideology. (Stanley appeals to empirical work by Payne, Steele, Eberhardt, and others.) In the chapters I have read Stanley does not mention Elster, but, in effect, he helps rehabilitate (alongside work of Gendler, Dotson, Siegel, and Haslanger--all cited and discussed by Stanley) the viability of the notion of ideology.
In the passage quoted from Lippmann, there is a further feature not emphasized by Stanley (but compatible with his approach) that I emphasized above: stereotypes (or social scripts) shape (what I'll call) social modality, that is, the shape of possible experience and counterfactual expectations within it. (Stanley makes a point like this without appealing to counterfactuals and possible world language.) According to Adam Smith in a properly functioning person there is a reciprocal relationship between the habituated mental anticipations of events and sound judgment (recall my discussion here). In my book on Adam Smith (ms) I call this -- in honor of Vernon Smith (in addition a terrific Adam Smith scholar) -- 'ecological rationality.' Homogeneous communities tend to share such ecological rationality. (Recall.)
These scripts exist at the individual and social level, but also at intermediate levels of say, scientific practitioners, journalists, experts like doctors and engineers and interact among each other in complex ways to generate social modalities with individual, disciplinary, class, gendered, race (etc.) perspectives. Many such social modalities are extremely robust anchored as they are in our ordinary cognitive functioning and enduring social institutions (the law, family-structure, discipline formation, the economy, education, etc.). So, in all disciplines there is a built-in tendency toward agreement (which, say in our profession, is reinforced by an image of science that values/promotes consensus along Kuhnian lines). Social modalities also explain the existence of systematically overlooked patterns (epistemic versions of Knightian uncertainty) of the sort recently reinvigorated by L.A. Paul.
As Beiser notes in the final chapter of his wonderful book on the German Historicist Tradition, Max Weber noted that in advanced economies, and increased division of labor, value pluralism is a natural consequence (recall). Given the framework developed by Stanley, we can understand why this so: social modalities will vary in an heterogeneous environment (as the division of labor is). As Stanley notes (and this echoes Smith's move), normative expectations are not immune from this process.
This generates all kinds of questions (about pluralism, the social ontology of intentional objects that are social modality dependent, the role of a theorist that articulates/practices her subject within a certain entrenched modality, etc.). Here I note just the following: one problem in the vicinity here is that some reasonable expectations are manifestly unjust to outsiders. (Stanley discusses how the institutions of slavery generate ideologically sanctioned legal, commercial, cultural, gendered, racialized (etc.) expectations.) But within a lot of legal and moral areas we cannot really do without some such expectations (see here for an introduction). Life and commercial plans are made within unjust institutional structures by people that are, perhaps, indirectly complicit in them but not responsible for them. (Of course, some may well be responsible or have sufficient privilege within them to generate duties.) That is to say, an intentional violation of an entrenched social modality will generate demands, perhaps some quite reasonable, to be compensated for psychological, political, and commercial losses, including counterfactual ones that will be utterly unexpected.