The Social Psychology of Prejudice

The Social Psychology of Prejudice

The Social Psychology of Prejudice

The Social Psychology of Prejudice

Synopsis

This book considers the importance of a scientific understanding of prejudice and racism, different approaches to the definition and conceptualization of prejudice, and the relation of prejudice and behavior, and provides a unique historical analysis of social scientific understandings of prejudice. Duckitt integrates an otherwise confusing mass of popular theories and perspectives into a coherent explanatory framework, and develops a systematic multilevel approach to the problem of reducing prejudice in society and individuals.

Excerpt

Growing up in South Africa and living with the injustices of Apartheid inevitably confronts one with the question of how such wrongs come into being and endure for so long. My personal attempts to confront this question very soon led to the depressing realization that racism and prejudice were not just South African phenomena. The cruelty and absurdity of prejudice, with its often tragically destructive consequences, pervade human history. How can we explain phenomena that are so often harmful and which may seem so completely irrational? It has only been in the past seventy years that the social sciences have begun to make a determined effort to understand the nature and causes of prejudice, yet already important advances have been made. This book is about that effort.

In preparing this book I have undoubtedly drawn more heavily on South African illustrations and research than would have been the case for a non-South African writer. However, this book is not intended to be about South Africa and its unhappy contribution to the history of racism. It is intended to be a general book about the nature and causes of prejudice. First, it sets out to try and provide a concise but reasonably comprehensive overview of the state of our knowledge on the subject. As such, I hope it may be useful for persons with a general or professional interest in the area, as well as for people who are teaching or taking courses on prejudice, racism, and related topics. Second, it proposes a general framework to integrate this knowledge in a coherent and meaningful fashion. The critical argument here is that the currently fashionable cognitively based paradigm for understanding intergroup behavior and attitudes, like the preceding paradigms, only provides a partial understanding. It illuminates certain issues while it obscures others. What is needed is a framework to pull together the different par-

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