Even in the midst of the reactionary backlash of the 1980s and 1990s, progressive aims endure. To achieve solidarity of action, however, thinkers and activists need to find common ground. Through a comparative, interdisciplinary analysis of how oppression is related to six parameters race, class, gender, sexual preference, age, and mental and physical health Lise Noël points to a common ground.
Since the sixteenth century intolerance has been defined primarily as the undue condemnation of an opinion or behaviour. Liberation movements of the 1960s extended the notion of intolerance to the dimension of identity the oppression of another human being on the basis of what that person is. Noël argues that comparative analysis of the relationships of domination must therefore focus on all six parameters. She analyses these parameters from the perspective of discourse (the social production of meaning) and finds that the discourse of intolerance validates the most brutal forms of oppression: intolerance is the theory and domination and oppression are the practice. She finds common patterns from one parameter to another and also from one country to another, including Canada, the United States, Great Britain, and France.
Noël attempts to demystify the dominant discourse and to pick apart the logic of the dynamics which intolerance engenders. She reveals the shared and distinguishing features of dominated groups, examines the nature of relations between dominated groups and the Left, and challenges the validity of using concepts such as "difference" to defend the rights of the oppressed.
Awarded the Governor-General's Award for Non-Fiction (French) in 1989, Intolerance serves as both a practical guide and a theoretical work for activists and those who help define the discourse.