In 2010, 171,000 migrants came to Australia in search of a happy, conflict-free life. Although Australians are proud to say that our nation is multicultural and free of prejudice, the reality is that racism towards immigrants is still prevalent. In recent years Australia has been at the centre of several racial controversies including the Cronulla riots, the Indian student bashings and the relocation of asylum seekers to Malaysia. Such events as these are making potential immigrants unsure as to whether Australia is in fact the multicultural haven we preach it to be. In Victoria alone, the migration numbers have fallen by 37% with the violence against Indians considered a major factor. For several years prior to the Indian student attacks, Indians lead the way for migration in Victoria. In the years of 2009/10 when the violence against Indian students took place, the Indian migration numbers fell by 14%. Other figures lead us to think that maybe racism is a lot more common in Australia than we first thought. A study undertaken in high schools describes that 80% of students of non-anglo ancestry have experienced racial vilification. Considering that one in every four of the Australian population was born in foreign countries, Australia has all the potential of becoming a great multicultural nation, but also holds the risk of becoming a land of violence and racism. This essay will be exploring the concepts of Social Identity Theory and Realistic Conflict Theory in relation to immigrants in Australia as well as ways to reduce the prejudice within these theories.
Social Identity theory, formulated by Henri Taijfel in the 1970s, is centred on the basis that a person’s social identity is their knowledge of who they are by being a member of a social group or groups (Burke, Stets, 2000). Members of social groups share similar attributes and identify themselves in similar ways (Burke). When social group members share similar identities an ‘in-group’ is formed, thus creating an ‘out-group’, that consists of others that differ from the group (Burke, Stets, 2000). Comparison between in-groups and out-groups results in an ‘Us vs Them’ mentality and leads to the in-group showing prejudice and discrimination towards the out -group in order to enhance the in-group’s self-image. (Mcleaod, 2008) To break it down further, Social Identity Theory consists of 3 major thought process; social categorisation, social identification and social comparison (Chen, Li, 2009). As the name suggests, categorisation is the process categorising people, including ourselves, into different groups based on their attributes (Chen, Li, 2009). The attributes categorised can be anything from what race an individual is to whether or not they are a sports fan. Through categorisation, individuals are classified into different social groups (Chen, Li, 2009). The effects of categorising individuals into different social groups is that the similarities between oneself and in-group members becomes accentuated, as does the differences between oneself and out-group members (Burke, Stets, 2000).Categorisation plays an important role in the creation of prejudicial and racial thoughts and behaviour. In the attempt to retain the groups standing of being superior, categorisation is used to make sure that members of out-groups are not accidently placed in the in-group, which would consequently reduce the in-group cohesion and status (Blascovich, Wyer, Swart, Kibler, 1997). Research has shown that racially prejudiced individuals take more time in categorising those with racially ambiguous appearance as they are careful not mistakenly categorise an out-group member as being a member of their in-group. (Blascovich, Wyer, Swart, Kibler, 1997).
The second component of the Social Identity Theory is identification. This is the process of affiliating oneself to the different categories and then beginning to apply the social norms and behaviours of that group(Chen, Li, 2009). It is at...
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