The Social Psychology of Ethnic Identity

The Social Psychology of Ethnic Identity

The Social Psychology of Ethnic Identity

The Social Psychology of Ethnic Identity

Synopsis

In contrast to other disciplines, social psychology has been slow in responding to the questions posed by the issue of ethnicity. The Social Psychology of Ethnic Identity demonstrates the important contribution that psychology can make. The central aim of this book is to show, on the one hand, that social psychology can be used to develop a better understanding of ethnicity and, on the other hand, that increased attention to ethnicity can benefit social psychology, filling in theoretical and empirical gaps. Based on recent research, The Social Psychology of Ethnic Identity brings an original approach to subjects such as: * ethnic minority identity: place, space and time * hyphenated identities and hybridity * self-descriptions and the ethnic self. The combination of diverse approaches to this burgeoning field will be of interest to social psychologists as well as those interested in issues of identity, ethnicity and migration.

Excerpt

Ethnicity has become a major feature of social structure, everyday interactions, self-understanding, transnational networks, and political debates and conflicts around the world. Processes of globalization are drawing people from different places and with different backgrounds into close relationships. The continuing and increasing flow of migration, the growth of diasporas, and the emergence of Internet communities have raised all kinds of new and pressing questions. Most societies around the world are, or are rapidly becoming, ethnically and culturally plural. Ethnic diversity challenges the existing social hierarchies and exclusionary conceptions of citizenship, but also leads to a new tribalism that threatens democracy and social cohesion. Hence, questions of ethnicity, migration, identity, and multiculturalism are hotly debated in many countries. These concepts are frequently employed in and by the media. Given the increased importance of ethnicity and migration in contemporary public and political debates, it is not surprising that these have become major topics in academic debates in a number of different disciplines, including philosophy, political science, sociology, and anthropology. For example, in the past decade, political scientists, (moral) philosophers, and sociologists have paid increasing attention to the questions and dilemmas surrounding migration, citizenship, and multiculturalism (e.g. Barry, 2001; Favell, 1998; Goldberg, 1994; Kymlicka, 1995; Parekh, 2000; Taylor, 1992). Philosophical, ideological, and pragmatic arguments are being put forward in order to defend or challenge notions of the 'politics of identity' or 'modes of belonging'. In comparison to all this work in different disciplines, social psychologists, particularly in Europe, have to a large degree ignored ethnicity.

Ethnicity can be studied from various perspectives and in different ways. The emphasis can be on economic restructuring and ethnic entrepreneurship, on demographic changes in response to migration, on political factors such as minority policies and identity politics, and on ethnic self-organizations. This book focuses on ethnic identity. The emphasis is on some of the complexities of real-world ethnic phenomena and particularly on the ordinary understanding and behaviour of people in their everyday social settings. To do so, I use a social psychological perspective. The central aim of the book is to show that while, on the one hand, social psychology can be used to develop an understanding of ethnicity, on the other hand, an increased attention to ethnicity has benefits for social psychology.

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