Cultural Divides

Cultural Divides: Understanding and Overcoming Group Conflict

Deborah A. Prentice
Dale T. Miller
Copyright Date: 1999
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 524
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/9781610444576
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  • Book Info
    Cultural Divides
    Book Description:

    Thirty years of progress on civil rights and a new era of immigration to the United States have together created an unprecedented level of diversity in American schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods. But increased contact among individuals from different racial and ethnic groups has not put an end to misunderstanding and conflict. On the contrary, entrenched cultural differences raise vexing questions about the limits of American pluralism. Can a population of increasingly mixed origins learn to live and work together despite differing cultural backgrounds? Or, is social polarization by race and ethnicity inevitable? These are the dilemmas explored inCultural Divides, a compendium of the latest research into the origins and nature of group conflict, undertaken by a distinguished group of social psychologists who have joined forces to examine the effects of culture on social life.

    Cultural Dividesshows how new lines of investigation into intergroup conflict shape current thinking on such questions as: Why are people so strongly prone to attribute personal differences to group membership rather than to individual nature? Why are negative beliefs about other groups so resistent to change, even with increased contact? Is it possible to struggle toward equal status for all people and still maintain separate ethnic identities for culturally distinct groups?Cultural Dividesoffers new theories about how social identity comes to be rooted in groups: Some essays describe the value of group membership for enhancing individual self-esteem, while others focus on the belief in social hierarchies, or the perception that people of different skin colors and ethnic origins fall into immutably different categories. Among the phenomena explored are the varying degrees of commitment and identification felt by many black students toward their educational institutions, the reasons why social stigma affects the self-worth of some minority groups more than others, and the peculiar psychology of hate crime perpetrators. The way cultural boundaries can impair our ability to resolve disputes is a recurrent theme in the volume. An essay on American cultures of European, Asian, African, and Mexican origin examines core differences in how each traditionally views conflict and its proper methods of resolution. Another takes a hard look at the multiculturalist agenda and asks whether it can realistically succeed. Other contributors describe the effectiveness of social experiments aimed at increasing positive attitudes, cooperation, and conflict management skills in mixed group settings.

    Cultural Dividesilluminates the beliefs and attitudes that people hold about themselves in relation to others, and how these social thought processes shape the formation of group identity and intergroup antagonism. In so doing,Cultural Dividespoints the way toward a new science of cultural contact and confronts issues of social change that increasingly affect all Americans.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-457-6
    Subjects: Psychology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Deborah A. Prentice and Dale T. Miller
  5. 1 THE PSYCHOLOGY OF CULTURAL CONTACT
    (pp. 1-20)
    Deborah A. Prentice and Dale T. Miller

    Ethnic diversity currently preoccupies a sizable segment of U.S. society, from employers and school administrators, who must manage diversity within institutional settings, to politicians and social scientists, who must formulate policies for addressing the competing claims of different ethnic groups. The issue of diversity is fraught with anxiety. Ethnic conflicts in many countries around the world attest to the potential for relations across cultural boundaries to go seriously and destructively awry. Moreover, Americans’ own struggles with race have left many pessimistic about the prospects for achieving positive, stable relations between ethnic groups. With new waves of immigrants coming from Asia...

  6. PART I THE CLAIMS OF ETHNIC IDENTITY

    • 2 MODELS OF AMERICAN ETHNIC RELATIONS: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
      (pp. 23-34)
      George M. Fredrickson

      Throughout its history, the United States has been inhabited by a variety of interacting racial or ethnic groups. In addition to the obvious “color line” structuring relationships between dominant whites and lower-status blacks, Indians, and Asians, there have at times been important social distinctions among those of white or European ancestry. Today we think of the differences between white Anglo-Saxon Protestants and Irish, Italian, Polish, and Jewish Americans as purely cultural or religious, but in earlier times these groups were sometimes thought of as “races” or “subraces”—people possessing innate or inborn characteristics and capabilities that affected their fitness for...

    • 3 CULTURAL DIVERSITY AND MULTICULTURAL POLITICS: IS ETHNIC BALKANIZATION PSYCHOLOGICALLY INEVITABLE?
      (pp. 35-79)
      David O. Sears, Jack Citrin, Sharmaine V. Cheleden and Colette van Laar

      The ethnic diversity of the American people has substantially increased in recent years, owing both to increased immigration from Latin America and Asia and to differential birth rates across groups. Political conflict has intensified about issues that are intimately tied to diversity, such as immigration control, language policy, and affirmative action. The United States is hardly unique in this regard, since ethnic and nationality groups all over the globe seem to be engaged in intensified domestic conflict, often threatening the integrity of nation-states.

      President Tudjman and General Karadzic offer a clear sociopsychological theory to explain these political developments: ethnic identity,...

    • 4 PEERING INTO THE JAWS OF THE BEAST: THE INTEGRATIVE DYNAMICS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY, SYMBOLIC RACISM, AND SOCIAL DOMINANCE
      (pp. 80-132)
      Jim Sidanius, Shana Levin, Joshua L. Rabinowitz and Christopher M. Federico

      We don’t need to look very far in either time or space to witness groups in conflict. Examples of group conflict abound, ranging from mild forms of ingroup favoritism—such as a preference for friends of the same ethnicity—to the most destructive forms of intergroup aggression, including the massacre of Armenians in Turkey,¹ the Holocaust in central Europe, “ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia, and mass genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994. In some sense, all of these horrific events can be taken as signs of “the beast within,” illustrating people’s pervasive tendency to show not only favoritism toward members...

    • 5 CONTEXT, IDENTITY, AND INTERGROUP RELATIONS
      (pp. 133-170)
      Patricia Gurin, Timothy Peng, Gretchen Lopez and Biren A. Nagda

      Can plural groups whose members strongly identify with their own groups live together in reasonable harmony, forge an American identity, and commit themselves to democratic citizenship, or will they inevitably be splintered, exist in unresolvable conflict, and threaten democracy? These are questions that have perplexed political analysts of democracy from the ancient Greeks to contemporary times. They lie behind the critique of multicultural education by those who worry that identities based on race, ethnicity, gender, class, or other categorizations are inevitably divisive. It is thought that these identities privilege group rights over individual rights, which are the bedrock of American...

  7. PART II CULTURAL DIFFERENCES:: REAL AND IMAGINED

    • 6 ACROSS CULTURAL DIVIDES: THE VALUE OF A SUPERORDINATE IDENTITY
      (pp. 173-212)
      Samuel L. Gaertner, John F. Dovidio, Jason A. Nier, Christine M. Ward and Brenda S. Banker

      Despite this promising invitation, the relations among racial, ethnic, and religious groups in the United States have traditionally been tense and problematic. In a nation founded on principles of justice and equality, prejudice and discrimination pervade intergroup relations and are embedded in official policies (Feagin and Feagin 1996; Feagin and Sikes 1994). This contradiction between principle and practice, recognized over fifty years ago (Myrdal 1944), has been characterized as the “American Dilemma.”

      The contemporary social attitudes ofindividuals,particularly those in the majority group, reflect an analogous contradiction. Aversive racism (see Dovidio and Gaertner 1991, 1996, 1998; Dovidio, Mann, and...

    • 7 SOME CONSEQUENCES OF A BELIEF IN GROUP ESSENCE: THE CATEGORY DIVIDE HYPOTHESIS
      (pp. 213-238)
      Dale T. Miller and Deborah A. Prentice

      When two people discover that they have strongly opposing beliefs about an issue of great importance, they typically have one of two reactions: either they approach each other and initiate a dialogue in the hopes of better understanding and possibly persuading one another, or they actively withdraw from one another and, if forced to interact, scrupulously avoid discussing the source of their disagreement. These two reactions are so strikingly and significantly different in both their short-and long-term consequences that it becomes important to understand when one as opposed to the other will occur.¹ This chapter attempts to answer this question....

    • 8 EASTERN AND WESTERN PERCEPTIONS OF CAUSALITY FOR SOCIAL BEHAVIOR: LAY THEORIES ABOUT PERSONALITIES AND SITUATIONS
      (pp. 239-272)
      Ara Norenzayan, Incheol Choi and Richard E. Nisbett

      Understanding others is a difficult and risky business, but if history is any guide, understanding others in intercultural encounters is truly a great challenge. When dealing with a person from a different culture, the lay psychologist is faced with the possibility of a radical divergence between his or her own everyday understanding of behavior and that of the other. To the extent that there is such a divergence, people of different cultures draw different conclusions from the same encounter, thus leading to cultural misunderstandings.

      In this chapter, we focus on one likely source of such misunderstandings, namely, the fundamental attribution...

    • 9 INDEPENDENCE FROM WHOM? INTERDEPENDENCE WITH WHOM? CULTURAL PERSPECTIVES ON INGROUPS VERSUS OUTGROUPS
      (pp. 273-301)
      Sheena S. Iyengar, Mark R. Lepper and Lee Ross

      Western social theorists have long pondered the relationship between self-perception and social perception, that is, the relationship between the ways we interpret and evaluate our own actions, feelings, and personal characteristics and the ways we interpret and evaluate those of other social actors. Within social psychology, in particular, some theorists have stressed connections or parallels between these two processes (Bern 1967, 1972; Cooley 1902; Mead 1934; Nisbett and Wilson 1977; Schachter 1964), while others have emphasized divergences or differences (Jones 1990; Jones and Nisbett 1971; Storms 1973; Taylor and Fiske 1978). What theorists in both camps have shared, however, is...

    • 10 CONFLICTWAYS: CULTURAL DIVERSITY IN THE MEANINGS AND PRACTICES OF CONFLICT
      (pp. 302-334)
      Hazel Rose Markus and Leah R. Lin

      Workplaces are commonly rife with conflicts—conflicts either already in progress or just one tense interaction away. Many of the ostensible issues seem small, but they often signal powerful fault lines. who should make the coffee and clean up the kitchen area? Which unit has priority at the photocopying machines? Why does the office manager seem to favor some work groups over others? As American offices increasingly include employees from diverse cultural contexts, the array and scope of these conflicts will surely broaden. The relationship of culture to the content of many of these conflicts may be clear. Should there...

  8. PART III THE PSYCHOLOGY OF RACE IN THE UNITED STATES

    • 11 DIVERSITY AND ORGANIZATIONAL IDENTITY: THE PROBLEM OF ENTRÉE AFTER ENTRY
      (pp. 337-363)
      Marilynn B. Brewer, William von Hippel and Martin P. Gooden

      After thirty years of antidiscrimination laws and affirmative action policies in the United States, the admission of representative numbers of women and ethnic minorities into most large educational institutions and business organizations has, for the most part, been accomplished. As a consequence, such institutions have moved from the stage of achieving diversity to managing diversity (Thomas 1992). Although the concept of “managing diversity” has multiple meanings in the organizational development literature and practice, for social psychologists it can best be defined as the achievement of full integration of members of minority social categories into the social, structural, and power relationships...

    • 12 SOCIAL STIGMA AND SELF-ESTEEM: THE ROLE OF CONTINGENCIES OF WORTH
      (pp. 364-392)
      Jennifer Crocker and Jason S. Lawrence

      To be stigmatized is to have an attribute or a social identity that calls into question one’s full humanity—one is devalued, spoiled, or flawed in the eyes of others (Crocker, Major, and Steele 1998; Goffman 1963; Jones et al. 1984). In nearly all societies, some categories of individuals are stigmatized, and hence devalued (Sidanius and Pratto 1993). In the history of the United States, many racial, ethnic, and cultural groups have been stigmatized and devalued. This devaluation has perhaps been most extreme for African Americans, many of whose ancestors arrived in the United States involuntarily as slaves, and for...

    • 13 THE PSYCHOLOGICAL PREDICAMENT OF WOMEN ON WELFARE
      (pp. 393-428)
      Claude Steele and David A. Sherman

      In reading William Julius Wilson’s latest book on urban poverty,When Work Disappears(1996), a statement embedded pas singly in the introduction captured our attention. In reviewing the contributions of various social sciences to issues of poverty in America, he described social psychology as “a set of factors generally absent from the current debate” (xiv). Wilson (1987, 1996) has long argued that large-scale economic and structural factors, such as the global economy, the drop in industrial jobs, the suburbanization of jobs, and migration patterns, bear most of the responsibility for continuing urban poverty. But he also stresses that other factors...

    • 14 THE DISTINCTIVE POLITICAL VIEWS OF HATE-CRIME PERPETRATORS AND WHITE SUPREMACISTS
      (pp. 429-464)
      Donald P. Green, Robert P. Abelson and Margaret Garnett

      Diversity—cultural, racial, linguistic, religious, sexual—is resented and resisted by many. This resistance may take many forms, ranging from subtle forms of discrimination and exclusion to ethnic war and genocide. While many of the essays in this volume focus on the manifestations of intercultural abrasion in schools, workplaces, and public discourse, we have chosen to focus our attention on hate crime, or criminal conduct motivated by animus toward a victim’s race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

      Our understanding of hate crime draws on a variety of theoretical perspectives, for clearly one cannot explain hate crime without reference to simmering...

    • 15 CULTURAL RACISM: THE INTERSECTION OF RACE AND CULTURE IN INTERGROUP CONFLICT
      (pp. 465-490)
      James M. Jones

      “Race” has been a persistently troubling issue in American society from its inception. The idea of race evolved in a peculiar and defining way in Western Europe and was elaborated with profoundly contradictory fervor in the American experiment in democracy. For roughly half a millennium, the subject of race has stood for differences that define who “we“ are, who “they” are, and how those differences rationalize divergent lots in life. Race has driven a wedge between people and been at the core of human conflict.

      It is my view that one of the barriers to understanding contemporary race relations in...

  9. Index
    (pp. 491-507)