‘Social policies aimed at reducing prejudice and intergroup conflict would do well to take account of social psychological research in this area.’ Discuss this statement, making reference to relevant research in your answer.
This essay's aim is to discuss the possibility of reducing prejudice and intergroup conflicts in the light of how social policies can help to achieve this goal. Since the second World War, social psychology went though major changes, and specifically effected by group influences. Before WWII psychology focused on ethnic and racial tensions, biological and cultural differences that made individuals react the way they did. After WWII the focus was on faulty, implicit generalisations that lead to racial hatred, violence and genocide. To allow us to study (intergroup) conflict we need to pay close attention to prejudice, social identity theory (SIT), and realistic conflict theory (RCT), as all these have the potential to highlight the conflict between groups that lead to individual motivation, emotions, and actions. Will draw on social psychological research/experiments like the Northern Island conflict, point out how well it informs social policies which promote reform and hopefully a positive change (Dixon, 2007). While earlier research looks at prejudice as an abnormal development, later with the development of SIT and RCT it was seen not as an irrational error and bias, and not senseless, but it maximising the material gains and/or identity of a group. The aim is to reduce conflict, decrease prejudice in our contemporary society with the help of contact hypothesis although it has positive and negative features as its principles in both; individual and social levels. Cognitive social psychology and the later development of discursive psychology see categorisation and social identity of group relations in different ways, but they can also be interlinked. Combining aspects of cognitive and discursive theory can help us to make sense of prejudice.
Social psychology has great difficulty in explaining and theorising individual-group relationships. Groups can be categorised as small scale and large/mega scale groups. An intergroup approach focuses on the way people identify themselves with the larger social groups they belong too. Their (a person's) social judgement makes them interact with the certain group they categorise themselves with as being a member off. Tajfel's and Turner's social identity theory (SIT) explains how people identify themselves with different type of social categories, like groups of different scales (Dixon, 2007). SIT was formed to understand the psychological aspects of intergroup discriminations in Europe, and as a core idea of that has lead to conflict. There are three main components of SIT; categorisation, identification, and comparison. People categorise themselves and others into groups, that leads to in-group biases. They favour their own group over the out-group, as shown clearly in minimal group experiments. Tajfel and Turner show how easy it is to create intergroup behaviour, even when people are allocated randomly. People automatically show favouritism toward their own group and rivalry to the out-groups. There is a clear connection in this experiment between group membership and (positive) self esteem, how conflict can occur between groups with different status positions. (Brown, 2007). Tajfel and Turner define a group as “a collection of individuals who perceive themselves to be members of the same social category, share some emotional involvement in this common definition of themselves and achieve some degree of social consensus..” (as cited in Brown, 2007, p 139). Therefore Sherif (as cited in Brown, 2007) thought that individuals identify themselves as belonging to the same group and the others belong to different social categories; `us` versus `them`, as a cognitive categorisation view, that potentially can lead to conflicts. People also...
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