Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination

By Stuart Oskamp | Go to book overview
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8
Reducing Prejudice Through Cross-Categorization: Effect of Multiple Social Identities
Marilynn B. Brewer Ohio State UniversityFor the past two decades, social psychological research on intergroup relations has been guided by the synthesis of two major theoretical perspectives. The first of these had its origin in the study of race relations in the U.S. and is best represented by the so-called "contact hypothesis," the idea that intergroup prejudice and discrimination can be reduced by interpersonal contact between members of the respective social groups under conditions that promote equal-status, cooperative, and personalized interaction (see Pettigrew & Tropp, this volume). The second perspective had its origin in European research and the development of social identity theory. In brief, social identity theory, as articulated by Tajfel ( 1978) and Turner ( 1975, 1985), represents the convergence of two traditions in the study of intergroup attitudes and behavior -- social categorization, as seen in work by Doise ( 1978; Doise & Sinclair, 1973), Tajfel ( 1969), and Wilder ( 1986), and social comparison, as exemplified by Pettigrew ( 1967; Vanneman & Pettigrew, 1972) and Lemaine ( 1974).The social identity theoretical perspective rests on two basic premises:
1. Individuals organize their understanding of the social world on the basis of categorical distinctions that transform continuous variables into discrete classes. Such categorization has the effect of minimizing perceived differences within categories and accentuating intercategory differences.
2. Since individuals are themselves members of some social categories and not others, social categorization carries with it implicit ingroup-outgroup (we- they) distinctions. Because of the self-relevance of social categories, the ingroup-outgroup classification is a superimposed category distinction with affective and emotional significance.

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