The Nature of Prejudice

The Nature of Prejudice

The Nature of Prejudice

The Nature of Prejudice

Synopsis

With profound insight into the complexities of the human experience, Harvard psychologist Gordon Allport organized a mass of research to produce a landmark study on the roots and nature of prejudice. First published in 1954, The Nature of Prejudice remains the standard work on discrimination. Now this classic study is offered in a special unabridged edition with a new introduction by Kenneth Clark of Columbia University and a new preface by Thomas Pettigrew of Harvard University. Allport's comprehensive and penetrating work examines all aspects of this age-old problem: its roots in individual and social psychology, its varieties of expression, its impact on the individuals and communities. He explores all kinds of prejudice-racial, religious, ethnic, economic and sexual-and offers suggestions for reducing the devastating effects of discrimination. The additional material by Clark and Pettigrew updates the social-psychological research in prejudice and attests to the enduring values of Allport's original theories and insights.

Excerpt

As one who was fortunate enough to know Gordon Allport not only as one of America's preeminent social psychologists, but also as a warm and compassionate friend, it is not easy for me to discuss his legacy in The Nature of Prejudice in isolation from his other contributions to social-psychological theory, research, and insights. And certainly one cannot understand Gordon Allport the social psychologist without understanding him as a social philosopher and as an empathic and warm human being.

Gordon Allport revealed a great deal about himself as a human being in the first edition of The Nature of Prejudice, published in 1954. But the clues to the quality of this person who dared to discuss the emotionally laden problem—the pathos and dilemmas of human prejudices—from the perspective of a social scientist are found as early as 1937. In the first edition of his classic book Personality: A Psychological Interpretation,Allport revealed much of himself in his discussion of the mature personality. In describing the attributes of a truly mature personality— the extension of the self; self-objectification, insight, and humor; and the unifying philosophy of life—Allport was inadvertently quite accurately describing himself, as those of us who know him could detect. His rather balanced reserve, his ego control, would make it difficult, if not unthinkable, to discuss this point with him. Nonetheless, he remains an outstanding example of the fact that a unifying philosophy of life dominated by human values permeated all aspects of and gave meaning to his life and work.

As is generally recognized, The Nature of Prejudice is a classic. Its table of contents establishes the parameters for a scholarly social science approach to the discussion and understanding of this complex human problem. Although changes in emphasis on particular aspects and dimensions of the dynamics and control of racial prejudices have been brought about by social, legal, and political activities within the past 25 years, the basic outline for the understanding of this overall problem remains essentially the same as presented by Allport.

What is not generally recognized or sufficiently stated for the audience of younger students of social problems is that in The Nature of Prejudice and in his other contributions, Allport, like Gunnar Myrdal, remains an outstanding model of a major social scientist who was not at all apologetic in his insistence that social . . .

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