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Contents

  1. Racial Encounter: The Social Psychology of Contact and Desegregation
  2. Product details
  3. Stereotypes of Groups, Group Members, and Individuals in Categories: A Differential Analysis
  4. Race and Sexual Orientation: A Comparison

They should be better able to and to more often express themselves, to be liked more by their online interactions partners than if they interacted in person, and to develop closer, more intimate relationships through online interaction. Research on those with chronically high levels of social anxiety demonstrates just that. Seventy-five undergraduate students at New York University were pre-selected for this study based on their responses on the Interaction Anxiousness Scale Leary, Only those who scored at the high and low extremes of the scale were recruited for the study, and they were randomly assigned to interact in groups of three either face-to-face or in a specially-created Internet chat room.

Immediately following the interaction, participants assessed how they felt during the interaction, as well as how accepted and included they felt by the other group members. Consistent with their responses on the Interaction Anxiousness Scale, socially anxious individuals in the face-to-face condition reported feeling anxiety, shyness, and discomfort during the group interaction, while the opposite was true for non-anxious participants.

In marked contrast, interacting online produced significantly different results. Participants reported feeling significantly less anxious, shy, and uncomfortable, and more accepted by their fellow group members than did those who interacted face-to-face—but these effects were wholly qualified by differences in levels of social anxiety. That is, the extremely extroverted participants felt equally comfortable, outgoing, and accepted interacting online and in person. For those experiencing high levels of social anxiety, however, the mode of communication proved pivotal to their feelings of comfort, shyness, and acceptance.

Moreover, the self-reports of the socially anxious participants in the online condition on these measures were virtually identical to those of nonanxious participants in the face-to-face condition. Those experiencing anxiety in social situations have also been found to take more active leadership roles in online groups than in their face-to-face counterparts.

In a study by McKenna, Seidman, Buffardi, and Green , participants were again preselected based on their interaction anxiety scores and randomly assigned to interact in groups of four composed of two anxious and two nonanxious members either in an Internet chat room or face-to-face. They then engaged in a decision-making task, following which they rated each of their interaction peers on measures of leadership, degree of participation in the discussion as compared to the other members, extroversion, and how much they liked the person based on their interaction.

Peer ratings showed that socially anxious participants were as likely as their nonanxious counterparts to be perceived as leaders within the respective groups and to participate as actively when the interaction took place online. In the face-to-face condition, nonanxious participants received the leadership vote and were the more active participants. Socially anxious participants were viewed as more likeable and extroverted when they interacted online than in person, while their nonanxious counterparts were viewed as equally likeable and extroverted in both situations.

The largest hurdle to overcome is the tendency for the various members of the contact situation to come to feel quite close to one another and yet to view their new comrades from the outgroup as exceptions to their group rather than as normative representatives. Unless the members of the outgroup are perceived as representative members, the contact will have failed, for no changes in the perceived stereotype of the group as a whole will have taken place.

One of the advantages of online communication is that one can quite easily manipulate the degree of individual versus group saliency in a given contact situation in order to achieve a desired outcome. Spears et al. That is, members feel an absence of personal accountability and personal identity and thus the group-level identity becomes more important. When the group-level identity is thus heightened, Spears et al.

The degree to which the group identity is salient, however, plays an important role in determining what the effects of anonymity will be on the development of group norms. For instance, Spears, Lea, and Lee found that when members of online groups interacted under anonymous conditions and group salience was high, normative behavior increased in those groups as compared to electronic groups in which members were anonymous but the salience of the group was low. Whether group salience was high or low, participants who interacted under individuating conditions displayed an intermediate level of conformity to group norms.

One of the most interesting sets of studies examining the interaction between anonymity and identity-salience tested the effects of primed behavior in electronic groups. Postmes, Spears, Sakhel, and De Groot primed participants with either task-oriented or socioemotional behavior and then had them interact in electronic groups under either anonymous or identifying conditions. Members in the anonymous groups displayed behavior consistent with the respective prime they received considerably more so than did their counterparts who interacted under identifiable conditions within their groups.

Normative behavior strengthened over time in the anonymous groups, with the members conforming even more strongly to the primed behavior. In contrast, when members were identifiable to other group members they actually bucked the norms and behaved more prime-inconsistently over time. Further studies provided even stronger evidence of the effect that anonymity can have on normative behavior.

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Racial Encounter: The Social Psychology of Contact and Desegregation

In a study by Postmes et al. In the anonymous groups, those participants who did not receive the prime nonetheless conformed to the task or socioemotional behavior being exhibited by their primed cohorts and did so significantly more than did the nonprimed participants in the identifiable groups. Further, those who interacted anonymously reported feeling a significantly stronger attachment to their group and to the other group members.

There are a number of means by which the first can be achieved. For instance, one can provide all members with anonymous screen names that are evocative of the group they are representing e. As the interaction in the online environment progresses, group norms will begin to quickly emerge Spears et al.

These norms will be distinct from those that operate when members of group A are alone together and distinct from those unique to group B. Rather, these norms will emerge from the combined membership of groups A and B in the online setting, leading to heightened feelings of attachment and camaraderie among the participants.

Cook suggested that the more intimate the relationship, the more favorable the attitude of the groups was likely to be. Recent research into the importance of personalized interaction e. It is also has a particular relevance to this discussion on contact through the Internet. Mutual self-disclosure is a critical component for the formation of close interpersonal bonds and the establishment of a sense of belonging and acceptance.

Thus problematically, interactions between in-group and out-group members are usually conducted on a casual and superficial level. One might think that, given the relatively high percentage of English-speaking students, the French-speaking students would engage in more interaction with English-speaking students than with French-speaking students. Tellingly, participants reported that their interaction with in-group members was significantly more intimate than their interaction with out-group members.


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One of the major advantages of Internet interactions over face-to-face interactions is the general tendency for individuals to engage in greater self-disclosure and more intimate exchanges there. Spears and Lea suggest that it is the protection of anonymity often provided by the Internet that helps people openly to express the way they really think and feel. In line with this, McKenna and Bargh , suggest that this sense of anonymity allows people to take risks in making disclosures to their Internet friends that would be unthinkable to them in a face-to-face interaction.

Reducing Prejudice and Discrimination via Intergroup Contact

More recently, McKenna, Buffardi, and Seidman found that, while people tend to engage in the greatest acts of self-disclosure when interacting under relative anonymity online, they also disclose more to their face-to-face friends and to family members when interacting with these individuals online. In other words, even without the cloak of anonymity, people more readily make intimate disclosures through their Internet interactions than through their face-to-face interactions, even when it comes to their nearest and dearest.

There are a number of unique qualities of the Internet that facilitate self-disclosure and intimacy online. McKenna et al. This effect held when participants met one another twice, once in person and once over the Internet, unaware that it was the same interaction partner in both situations. There was a significant correlation between the degree of liking for the partner and how well the participant felt he or she had gotten to know the other person for those who met over the Internet.

However, there was no such correlation in the face-to-face condition. Along similar lines, Walther , found that new acquaintances can achieve greater intimacy through online communication than they do in parallel face-to-face interactions. One of the greatest advantages of the Internet is the ability to tailor and tweak the various requirements to achieve optimal results for specific contact situations.

Rather than being limited to a single intensive meeting that takes place over a few hours or days, multiple contacts can be arranged spanning days, weeks, and even months. The anonymity and identifiability of participants can be manipulated depending on the particular needs of the situation and can be altered over time. As research has shown, in some situations it is beneficial for the salience of the outgroup to be quite high and in others such heightened salience is detrimental to a successful contact.

The Internet contact has the ability to serve both approaches and to examine which, if either, is more beneficial to the intergroup relationship. Group identity may be emphasized on the Internet by exercising control over the contact environment or, if it is thought appropriate, may be reduced if requested. This may be especially important with groups, which have salient physical characteristics that are impossible to reduce in face-to-face contact. It is possible for the contact organizer to create an interactive information system on the outgroup that can be accessible to the ingroup participants both before and during the contact.

In preparing this, its creators should gather information on the perceptions and stereotypes held by their group of the outgroup. They can then start to tackle the main components of the stereotype. This learning system will accompany participants through the different stages of the contact. The need to learn more about the outgroup may continue to be important for the participants at different stages of the contact process, i.

Importantly, the ease of receiving needed information about the outgroup on the screen at any given moment can prove a useful aid in the creation of a positive intergroup contact. The ability of the Internet to supply a learning mechanism, where the information is accessible in a wholly interactive form and so can answer the specific requests and concerns of participants, creates a learning environment of a particularly high quality Rosenberg, Using this model, organizers can make use of an very gradual process to help the individual become comfortable with the contact situation and the other members, and to develop strong bonds with those other members before they ever meet in person.

The main steps in this graded contact are as follows:. Communicating by text only: This text-only interaction is the most common form of communication over the Internet. When low-level social anxiety has been established, participants will transfer to the next stage. In addition, a live image of the subject will be transferred to the other participant. Again, when a satisfactory level of comfort has been achieved, participants may progress to the next stage. Face-to-face interaction: This is the stage of regular face-to-face interaction. It is predicted that this process will successfully bridge the gap between text-only Internet contact and total exposure through a face-to-face encounter, and do so in a way that continually preserves low levels of anxiety among participants.

As research by McKenna and colleagues has shown Bargh et al. The Internet has an enormous potential for providing tools to create effective intergroup contact. Its unique characteristics provide an excellent basis for such a contact, for example, by creating a secure environment, reducing anxiety, cutting geographical distances, significantly lowering costs, and by creating equal status, intimate contact,and cooperation.

In addition, it offers the chance to receive approval from the authorities. The Internet is also a major information resource, and its ability to answer questions and provide knowledge in real time makes it a uniquely useful tool for the promotion of intergroup communication. The Internet may be said to provide opportunities for a successful contact that are superior to those provided in a traditional face-to-face meeting.

There are clearly potential obstacles in putting together a contact through cyberspace; and while taking this fully into account, it is our belief that contact schemes over the Internet may prove exceptionally effective tools in the pursuit of improved interpersonal and intergroup relations. One of the mechanisms that may be developed to support such schemes is found in the field of interactive learning systems which interact with each user individually. In addition, future research should reveal more information about different factors which affect such a contact; for example, the impact of personality on the Internet contact Amichai-Hamburger, Despite the questions that remain as yet unanswered, we believe that the advantages of using the Internet for an outgroup contact are exceptionally promising, and we advocate the introduction of the Internet as a vital part of contact between groups.

Here we can meet as individuals, coming to know one another as personalities rather than interchangeable members of social categories. In societies where group divisions permeate every level of social life, the decategorization model possesses considerable intuitive appeal. Here the sheer ubiquity of group boundaries appears to demand their reduction.

One interpretation of social identity theory — the psychological perspective on which the decategorization model is based — is that members do not easily relinquish their group identi- fications. Once again, this position seems to contradict the spirit of social identity theory, with its conception of a society cleft into groups and its vigorous anti-reductionism cf. The recategorization model If it is sometimes unproductive to try to break down group boundaries, or to diminish their importance, then perhaps some form of realignment is pos- sible.

Their model predicts that contact will have greatest influence when it promotes a common ingroup identity, persuading members of differ- ent subgroups to see one another as members of a shared ingroup. Instead of lowering the salience of group identification, then, recategorization attempts to shift category boundaries in the direction of greater inclusiveness.

In a study of ethnic attitudes at an American college, Gaertner et al. In a laboratory simulation, Gaertner et al. Yet para- doxically the fluidity of self-categorization evidenced in this study also exposes a potential limitation of the recategorization model. As the salience of superordinate identities may vary across contexts, the resurgence of sub- group identities and their associated prejudices remains perpetually imminent cf. Table 2. In one attempted synthesis, for example, Pettigrew has suggested that the models can be reconciled if one treats intergroup contact as an evolving process.

In the early stages of contact, he contends, decategoriza- tion is necessary to allow friendships to form and perceptions of outgroup homogeneity to break down; in the intermediate stages, participants may then be able to celebrate their group differences, allowing attitude and stereotype change to generalize; finally, as relationships are consolidated, participants may gradually cease to define themselves as members of separate groups and assume a common identity. By thus theorizing the development of intergroup relations over time, Pettigrew has attempted a valuable rapprochement of the main theories in the field.

His work suggests the decategorization, recategorization and mutual differentiation may be mutually facilitative rather than antithetical. The contact hypothesis 27 Framing the study of contact in South Africa We are now in a position to introduce South African work on contact and to situate it in relation to international research. This will prepare the way for subsequent empirical analysis of changing relations on South African beaches.

To begin with, we should note that the local study of contact dynamics is relatively undeveloped. The reviews conducted by Foster and Finchilescu and by Mynhardt and du Toit uncovered fewer than 20 pub- lished studies, and in some of these contact was secondary to the main themes of research. Since these reviews were written, only a handful of add- itional studies have appeared e. Empirical evidence on the nature and consequences of racial interaction in post-apartheid South Africa thus remains limited at least in comparison with the voluminous literature on contact in the USA and Europe.

In seeking an explanation for this comparative neglect, one might look to the organization of South African society during the apartheid era. Although Gibson located a positive correl- ation between interracial contact and acceptance of racial reconciliation, he also found that such contact to be highly limited in post-apartheid society. Only a tiny proportion of white 6. Black people in particular report continuing high levels of segregation; the majority have no interracial contact whatsoever either inside And yet, as the legacy of the old regime is progressively dismantled, one expects and hopes that a gradual increase in contact will occur.

It is in relation to this transformation, as the old system is supplanted by the new, that the adequacy of past and future work on the contact hypothesis must be judged. South African research has tended to mirror developments in the inter- national literature, the majority of work adapting classic contact theory to examine local relations e. Cook, b. During the s and early s, South African researchers began to reframe the problem of contact in terms of group identification processes, building on wider developments in contact theory. It would be an exagger- ation to claim that the models detailed in Table 2.

Two trends are worth extracting from a more complex set of results. Second, although contact did have some positive impact on intergroup attitudes, this was mainly in terms of changing the opinions of white nurses. Explaining this result, Finchilescu suggested that power differences within the contact situation may have made group dynamics more salient to the black and Indian participants. Their survey was designed to explore the relationship between several independent variables e.

Two of their findings are especially pertinent to the research we report in Chapter 4. As Table 2. In a later series of unpublished studies, Mynhardt and du Toit , p. Decline in moral standards 4 2. Conflict will escalate in areas 20 White identity in jeopardy 51 Security fears in areas 27 Inundation and overpopulation of areas 32 Negative economic consequences 35 In sum, and to put their position simplistically, Mynardt and du Toit show how communicative practices such as rumour may shape collective reactions to contact and desegregation.

Despite its rather different foundations, the work presented in later chapters resonates with this theme. We too will highlight the importance of discursive processes in constituting how participants under- stand and respond to the desegregation and the forms of contact that follow in its wake.

Racial categorization has structured so much of everyday existence, with such devastating con- sequences for so many people, that cooperative relations sometimes seem inconceivable. There is a willingness to embrace more general theories of social change in order, curiously enough, to go beyond the assumptions of the contact hypothesis3. Present from the outset, these limitations have continued to char- acterize work in the field, affecting even the more sophisticated work repre- sented in Table 2.

As an initial step, it may be useful to clarify the object of this critique. What are its aims? What does it seek to address? In advancing a critique of the contact paradigm, our aim is to recover, interrogate and ultimately displace its implicit network of assumptions and research practices. Instead of disputing existing answers, we shall propose a new set of questions, bringing to the centre issues that are usually relegated to the scholarly margins. The target of this critique is therefore not a specific theoretical perspective so much as the overarching problematic that grounds the contact hypothesis.

The optimal strategy is based on a reasonable idea. In this context, change is primar- ily defined in terms of shifts in personal attitudes and stereotypes. Researchers have expended enormous energy and resources in testing and retesting how different contextual factors shape the relationship between contact and prejudice and, as knowledge in the field has advanced, ever more detailed taxonomies of the boundary conditions for good contact have emerged. It has yielded a prolific, if at times rather repetitive, research literature, and it has produced useful recommendations about how processes of desegregation might best be implemented.

By the same token, commenta- tors have not been blind to its limitations, particularly limitations arising from the burgeoning list of conditions and qualifications. For many decades, social psychologists have been debating what this world might look like, what conditions and forms of contact might prevail there and, more recently, how contact might be arranged to promote the generalization of attitude and stereotype change and thus transform the wider context of intergroup relations.

One thing that is easily hidden by this research programme, however, is that ordinary interaction between members of different groups generally bears little resemblance to the kinds of contact that social psychologists study. As Taylor and Moghaddam have observed in their provocative chapter, ordinary relations tend to be fleeting and superficial, with resegregation and avoidance being a common reaction to the possibilities of contact with others see Chapter 3.

Moreover, in many historically divided societies, the ideal conditions for contact have proved notoriously difficult to create. In short, there is a stark gap between the idealized forms of contact studied by social psychologists and the mundane interactions that characterize ordinary encounters. This does not the result from some grandiose vision.

Yet by taking optimal relations their primary object of inquiry, researchers have underspecified the social psychological significance of the less-than-optimal exchanges that make up the bulk of everyday contact experiences in multicultural societies and help to imbue intergroup relations with meaning and value. In a strange inversion, actual relations become here a simulacrum of some immaculate realm in which the optimal conditions apply, a pale shadow of interactions that may exist in some future society. If contact research continues along this path, it may come to resemble the religious doctrines that Marx famously rebuked, looking for salvation in another world while ignoring the sources of misery in this one.

Of course, there is nothing wrong in principle with imagining a society where equal status and cooperative goals prevail, where intimacy and integration replace distance and division. It may even be true that this happy vision underwrites change by providing the glimpse of an alternative order. Yet if it is to have broader utility, contact research must begin to address some pervasive and underexplored features of social relations. What are the social psychological consequences of contact episodes across the full range of contexts in which group members encounter one another? How do participants make sense of such encounters and with what short-term and long-term implications?

Although they haunt the margins of the literature on the contact hypoth- esis, these kinds of question are rarely the focus of theoretical commentary or research. As a result, the contact literature has been vitiated not only as a model of the effects of desegregation but also as a framework for promot- ing social change.

To do so is to detach contact from wider historical and political realities and thus to mask the preconditions for social change. To put our argument in somewhat different terms: processes of social change cannot be meaningfully understood apart from processes of social determination.

Nor can the complex consequences of desegregation be unravelled via the creation of idealized contexts of interaction. Attempts to do so are not merely utopian they are ideological, for they shift attention away from the practices that conserve the racist organization of society and mask how the everyday organ- ization and meaning of contact is itself part of the reproduction of racism. Moreover, it must do so in order to make sense. In everyday life, contact may assume a wide range of meanings and be constituted in terms of bewildering array of social practices.

Even a single descriptive dimension may sig- nify quite disparate activities. Later reviewers have likewise adopted a taxonomic approach to the definition of contact, describing the process in terms of a preconceived list of attributes and conditions e. On the whole, as Dixon and Reicher note, such lists appear recursive, sim- plistic and remote from the complexities of lived experience. They compress a multiplicity of social relations into a conventional framework that simply measures the extent to which an individual perceives his or her contact to approximate the ideal conditions.

At the level of investigative practice this process is often taken a step further. Most empirical studies further reduce contact to a numeric index e. This methodological approach has four limitations, which shall be con- sidered in detail in subsequent chapters. First, it underplays the contextual specificity of contact and desegregation.

Although most researchers accept in principle the importance of contextual variation, in practice they treat con- tact as a universal process, definable in terms of a few invariant dimensions. This leads to a second problem. In objectifying contact, researchers have failed to recognize that its meaning and significance is often hotly contested. In simple terms, unless we recover how contact is evaluated from the perspective of the participants involved, we are not able to understand the nature and consequences of negative contact experiences and associated practices such as racial exclusion and resegregation.

Researchers are forced to rely on ex post facto speculations about what might have gone wrong which usually suggest that optimal conditions for contact were not, after all, applicable in a given setting. In this way, the psychometric reduction of contact experiences effectively masks the very processes we wish to uncover. Finally, and closely related, by neglecting lay constructions of con- tact, researchers may overlook how such constructions may sustain wider ideologies of race, a point we develop in Chapter 4.

It represents one of the few sustained attempts by social psychologists to work towards a more tolerant society and has a commendable tradition of advocacy Brewer, Given its progressive agenda, it is appropriate to assess the contact paradigm as a paradigm of social trans- formation.

Most pertinent to this book: what contribution can it make to the struggle against racism? Notably, it has tended to neglect the collective, ideological and institutional consequences of con- tact and desegregation, consequences that are irreducible to shifts in private attitudes and stereotypes but nevertheless powerfully shape the wider course of relations between groups.

According to Wetherell and Potter , the central theme of the preju- dice problematic is that racism derives mainly from the defects and frailties of the individual. The burden of explanation is thus shifted onto an intra- psychic level. Implicitly or explicitly, interventions informed by the prejudice prob- lematic are seeking to restore individuals to a state of tolerance, a rational and moral state in which personal bigotry has subsided.

The emphasis is on changing the intellectual and emotional reactions of individuals as opposed to the racist structure of societies. It would be wrong to claim that contact research has operated solely within the confines of the prejudice problematic. At its heart is the notion that racism is partly the outcome of segregation, a sociological and geopolitical factor, and many of the optimal conditions that researchers have given prior- ity are also located at a supraindividual level e.

Nevertheless, there are two general senses in which the contact paradigm conforms to the prejudice problematic and shares its limitations. First, contact research often promotes the idea that racism is a form of personal irrationality that is best overcome by education. At first, of course, this process of re-education may affect only the perceptions of the particular individuals involved in contact.

This line of argument has considerable intuitive appeal. It draws upon a well-established assumption that prejudice is a form of cognitive error and that human beings are actually more similar to one another than they assume. What it ignores, however, is that stereotyping does not reduce to simple questions of truth or falsity and is thus not necessarily subject to educational repudiation.

Only if stereotypes are treated atomistically — as abstracted sets of traits stored in the head — does this point of view make sense. If stereotypes are instead returned to the discursive and ideological contexts in which they are produced and used, its limitations quickly become apparent. Rather, we are dealing with ideological traditions Billig, of relating to others, traditions that proclaim the legitimacy of particular systems of propriety and territorial entitlement.

In this context, stereotypes are not best conceived as faulty or veridical cogni- tions.

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A second, and closely related, way that contact research conforms to the prejudice problematic is in its emphasis on the individual consequences of contact which are then extrapolated to explain social change. This emphasis is evident in the outcome measures and methods of analysis employed by researchers.

Although attempts to consider the broader effects of contact have occasionally arisen e. Among other limitations, this approach does not capture collective and institutional consequences of contact. Worse, it quietly fosters the assumption that such consequences can be understood by studying individual variations in prejudice. The contact hypothesis 37 This point has been elegantly developed by Forbes , Forbes points out that desegregation generally exerts a somewhat paradoxical effect on intergroup relations, a fact overlooked in the majority of research.

However, its effects on relations at a collective level may work in the opposite direction. The new contacts that desegregation makes possible may heighten perceptions of threat among the wider membership of the communities involved. This may result not only in an increase of aggregate levels of racism, but also in the emergence of new systems of segregation and exclusion, designed precisely to regulate the pos- sibility of contact. In short, as Forbes , p.

Stereotypes of Groups, Group Members, and Individuals in Categories: A Differential Analysis

What is important is its general orientation, which exposes the limits of an approach to social change that is focused on the rehabilitation of the preju- diced individual. The irony of the prejudice problematic is that by reducing racism to prejudice it becomes part of the problem see Henriques et al. For racism is not primarily a set of feelings and cognitions owned by individuals. It is a system of differentiation and domination that is held in place by social practices that render it stable, intelligible and legitimate see also Connolly, Conclusions This chapter has introduced the social psychology of intergroup contact.

The study of contact first emerged in the s as an attempt to explain the seemingly paradoxical effects of desegregation on intergroup relations. Initially, the emphasis was on situations that give participants the opportunity to disconfirm stereotypes and to appreciate their common ground. Moving beyond these mechanisms of re-education and attraction, researchers are presently exploring the role of social categorization and social identification within events of intergroup contact.

Theoretical debate has converged around the problem of specifying how our cognitive representations of contact episodes determine our res- ponses to others. A number of new questions have arisen. Should contact partners meet as individuals, group members or members of a super- ordinate category? And what contextual variables might elicit or inhibit these varying levels of categorization? Abandoning outcome indices located solely at the level of indi- vidual attitude change, we need to isolate the collective and ideological prac- tices that are either preserving the racial boundaries of the past or breaking them down.

The next chapters are devoted to the development of this kind of approach and to considering how it might contribute to the contact literature. At the level of investigative practice, this project has assumed a variety of forms. Whatever its advantages, this kind of approach has sustained a potentially dangerous form of utopianism.

The historical actualities of relations between groups have been increasingly neglected as attention is directed towards rela- tions unfolding under rarefied conditions. As we suggested in the previous chapter, the kinds of relations that contact researchers study and theorize have come to bear little resemblance to the encounters that ordinary people experience in ordinary social settings. This chapter attempts to develop the field in a different direction.

We suggest that analysis of contact between groups must proceed from an uncomfortable realization. To develop this point, the chapter summarizes the results of an observational study that began with an attempt to chart interpersonal contact at Scottburgh and concluded with a multi-faceted exploration of the ecology of racial isolation.


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Informal segregation as an enduring problem Over the course of the past 50 years, and running in parallel to the literature on the contact hypothesis, there has developed a literature that concerns the recalcitrance of segregation. This literature provides a grim counterpoint to the utopianism of contact research. It demonstrates that levels of racial isolation remain high in American society and in some areas they are increas- ing.

Of course, it is possible to find cases of stable racial integration Ellen, , communities or settings where genuine and long-lasting progress has been made. By and large, how- ever, black and white Americans continue to live in different areas, attend different schools, and circulate in different social networks e. There are complex debates about why this is so some of which are discussed in our concluding chapter.

Yet few commenta- tors would deny that segregation remains a structural linchpin of American society. More relevant to our purposes, segregation also continues to limit the extent of racial exposure and friendship formation. Sigelman et al. Gibson found that contact is promoting racial tolerance and reconciliation in post-apartheid South Africa. However, he also found that most South Africans have remarkably little meaningful interaction with members of other groups. Contact may work but it rarely occurs. The vast majority of research on the persistence of segregation has adopted a macrospatial focus.

In so doing, they have elaborated a multidimen- sional concept of segregation as a process that encompasses interrelated practices of clustering, concentration, isolation, centralization and dispersal e. Some illustrations drawn from this rather scattered literature will provide a backdrop to our observational work at Scottburgh. Their findings documented relatively low levels of racial integration. His results revealed a complex blend of interaction and avoidance. On the one hand, members of the congregation seemed willing to initiate and sustain interracial conversa- tions; in fact, ingroup preferences on these linguistic dimensions were fairly moderate.

On the other hand, seating charts constructed over a series of five Sunday services depicted a systematic process of segrega- tion, with white and black members favouring different sectors of the Church. Notably, segregation in the cafeteria tended to decrease over time for seventh graders, whereas it tended to increase over time for the eighth graders, possibly because racial status discrepancies were more marked in the latter group. The overwhelming majority of individuals sat in interactional units comprised exclusively of members of their own ethnic group.

Asian customers tended to cluster in a single seating area, where they predominated numerically, with white customers form- ing a numeric majority in all of the other areas. The foregoing studies demonstrate three points that will be developed in this chapter. First, they suggest that the appearance of racial and ethnic integra- tion may mask the reality of segregation. Even when members of different groups seem to mingle freely within a shared space, actual interaction may not materialize. To effect successful contact and racial integra- tion, after all, one must also understand the processes that maintain separ- ation, shaping relations even in situations where interventions to promote contact have been implemented1.

Second, the studies reveal how racial isolation may be preserved through the spatial organization of everyday social relations at microanalytic scale. That is, it may arise through boundary processes operating in situations where members of different racial categories are physically co-present and where, ipso facto, the possibility of contact with others is a constant possibil- ity.

Retrieving and understanding the practices through which this system is re produced emerges as a important topic of research. There is a final reason why studies on the microecology of segregation warrant the attention of contact researchers. Everyday ecological arrange- ments embody common-sense understandings of our social relationships; they are thus logically part of the social psychology of contact. Not only do they shape the opportunity for contact but also they create the symbolic context through such contact acquires meaning.

What are the psychological implications, for example, of inhabiting kind of social space described by Clack et al. However trivial it may appear, we believe that this kind of ecological system both expresses and sustains the meanings attributed to racial encounters. Supporting this hypothesis, some previous research has suggested that even subtle variations in spatial arrangements may signify prejudice e.

Gaertner et al. Thus, a situation where ethnic boundaries are visibly inscribed within a social space may also be a situation where the social distance between its occupants is accentuated. Contact and the ecology of everyday relations 43 Observations of contact and informal segregation on Scottburgh As we noted in our introductory chapter, the beach is an instructive context in which to observe intergroup processes in South Africa.

To the contrary, such relations are characterized by a comparative freedom of assembly, association, movement and expres- sion which is not to say, of course, that they are devoid of social order. Note: Numbers 1 to 21 represent the various sectors that were used for the purposes of gathering and organizing the observational data. The first involved making a direct record of interactions on the beach; the second involved mapping the distribution of members of different racial categories across different sectors of the beachfront over time. Descriptive analysis of the resulting data helped to clarify the nature of such contact, as well as providing important information about the identities of the participants involved.

Contact on the beachfront took place across a number of settings. About 15 per cent of the interactions we coded, for example, were located in and around the swimming pool area point C, Fig. They are thus central to understanding the dynamics of contact and segregation at Scottburgh.

On the one hand, as enclosed spheres of intimacy, umbrella spaces represent the primary arena in which the kinds of interactions studied by contact researchers might occur. On the other hand, as we shall presently see, umbrella spaces serve as a mechanism for preserving social boundaries. In this light, it is perhaps not surprising that so many of the interactions we observed occurred there. What kinds of contact occurred on the beachfront? Our observations revealed that contact consisted of a rich variety of activities. About 75 per cent of contact episodes could be coded in terms of a single primary activity, with the remaining 25 per cent of episodes involving the performance of two or more activities simultaneously.

Sometimes contact involved the playing of beach games such as football, volleyball or frisbee Fig. Sometimes it involved the performance of more functional activities, such as setting up an umbrella space or sharing food. Sometimes it involved gestures of affection such as holding hands, kissing or applying sun-tan lotion. When activities were expressed as proportions, however, a clear pattern emerged.

Yet who engaged in this kind of contact on the beachfront? We found that interacting groups were fairly mixed in terms of sex and age composition. About 29 per cent of interactions were all male, The majority of interactions occurred either bet- ween adults Cross-tabulation of the data suggested that there was also an association between the age and the gender composition of groups. Mixed-sex inter- action was significantly less common in exchanges between children It should be noted, however, that this form of gender segregation was moderate in comparison with a more pervasive process of racial isolation on the beachfront, which brings us to the most important finding of the first observational study.

Only 12 out of our contact events or 3. Thus, or More specifically, the racial composition of interacting groups was as follows: groups or The instances of mixed-race contact displayed no particular racial pattern: five were white-black, four were white-Indian, two were coloured-white and one was coloured-black. Interestingly, none of these instances of contact occurred between children, disconfirming our original conjecture that spon- taneous mingling of children might occur in areas such as the swimming pool or through organized beach activities e.

Mapping informal segregation: some varieties of racial isolation While observing interactions on the beachfront, we noticed not only that racial contact seldom occurred, but also that it was effectively prohibited by the spatial and temporal configuration of relations. Despite the repeal of beach apartheid laws, segregation seemed to be thriving in several unofficial forms.

Extending methodological techniques used in some previous work e. McCauley et al. Using the information captured in these maps, we attempted to describe the dynamics of informal segregation on Scottburgh.

In the following summary, we focus on relations between whites and blacks, the groups who predominated numer- ically on the beachfront over the course of our observations3. Figure 3. Although this distri- bution may initially appear haphazard, closer inspection reveals clear pat- terns of social and spatial organization, which operate across different levels of analysis. On the one hand, such patterns are evident within global pro- cesses of racial distribution across the beachfront as a whole. Given their role in regulating contact on beaches, the racial composition of such spaces provides an important index of integration at Scottburgh.

Over This pattern was remarkably stable across time and was unaffected by the proportion of black and white people present. Indeed, during the entire observation period, we managed to locate only one integrated grouping on the beachfront. Segregation through unevenness of distribution, exposure and clustering In the early stages of observation, it became apparent that informal segrega- tion at Scottburgh was manifest not only at a microspatial scale.

To investigate this spa- tial configuration, we calculated a series of indices of segregation, adapting statistical techniques employed by urban geographers and sociologists. Appendix B provides some further information about the calculation and interpretation of these statistics. The results of these analyses are summarized in Tables 3.

The resulting segregation indices varied across observational intervals. D indices ranged from a low of 0. Similarly, D indices ranged from a low of 0. These data suggest that the patterns of segregation established through unevenness of racial distribution and exposure at Scottburgh were generally less stable and less extensive than the patterns established through the racial composition of umbrella spaces. Nevertheless, the indices recorded in Tables 3.

The mean scores for Dissimilarity 0. Contact and the ecology of everyday relations 51 Table 3. Similarly, the mean scores for interaction 0. Note that all of the indices reported in these tables demonstrate levels of segregation significantly higher than one would expect under conditions of random distribution by race across the beachfront. Although D and P measures convey information about distributive even- ness and exposure, they do not describe the precise spatial pattern that segre- gation assumes cf.

Wong, Theoretically, the indices reported in Tables 3. By visually representing the spatial organization of relations at Scottburgh, the mapping exercise was useful in this context. As can be seen, black occupants of the beachfront tended to coalesce in a few key areas, notably the swimming pool and its surrounding environs, with most whites being dispersed throughout the remaining areas.

The pattern documented in Fig. It refers to an ecological pattern formed through the relative contiguity of ingroup and outgroup members. Perhaps because it displays racial divisions in a highly visible form, our interviewees often remarked on this pattern of racial clustering. Clearly, they did not trade in formal spatial descriptions, much less in statistical estima- tions. Yet in discussing relations at Scottburgh, they acknowledged the terri- torial organization of the beachfront. Segregation through collective processes of influx and withdrawal A final form of segregation at Scottburgh arose through mass practices of influx and withdrawal.

It is important from the outset to locate such practices in their wider context, for they are not endemic to Scottburgh but occur in coastal resorts throughout post-apartheid South Africa, particularly during the Christmas and New Year holiday season. This figure suggests that there are two intervals in particular when the usual racial distribution is dramatically altered, namely the intervals on Boxing Day and New Years Day, festival periods when black people cus- tomarily visit coastal resorts in far larger numbers than usual.

What is appar- ent from the data presented in Fig. This fact is confirmed by Fig. Note: Frequencies are based upon counts of stationary occupants i. Let us examine each of these problems in more detail. The first problem is that the thesis seems to be based on a model of assimilation that would encourage groups of color to accept the norms, behaviors, and characteristics of the white culture. From a multicultural perspective, all students should receive an education that continuously affirms human diversity — one that embraces the history and culture of all racial groups and that teaches people of color to take charge of their own destinies.

From a multicultural perspective, group contact ought to help students understand how to eliminate race, class, and gender oppression. With regard to teaching, a multicultural perspective assumes that teachers will hold high expectations for all students and that they will challenge those students who are trapped in the cycle of poverty and despair to rise above it. When the contact thesis is interpreted from a white perspective, by contrast, it is implemented so as to bring together white students and students of color who share the same socioeconomic status and similar levels of academic achievement.

Such arrangements may be necessary in some circumstances, and their effects can be offset by a curriculum that deals directly with the issues of racism. Similarly, faculties that include people of color as administrators or as teachers in the core subject areas help to promote successful contact. Institutional support for a multicultural perspective is important. For example, many of the ethnic studies courses of the s and s were introduced primarily because of pressure from outside the schools, so and they were short-lived lasting from one to three years.

Moreover, most of these programs focused on blacks; other groups of color had no presence in the ethnic studies sequences. The second problem with the contact thesis is that we have not yet studied contact between different groups of color; the studies to date have dealt only with blacks and whites. Yet many predominantly black urban schools are now experiencing rising enrollments of Hispanic and Asian-American students.

Our understanding of contact needs to include what happens and what needs to happen when students from different groups of color come together — without white students or with only a small number of them but with a teaching staff that is predominantly white, as it is projected to become. Meanwhile, educators of color tend to assume that, for one group to obtain educational extras e. The outcome of this assumption is competition among groups of color rather than cooperation.

It is very important that the different groups of color find ways to work together; thus it is imperative that we study contact among racial and ethnic groups more broadly than we have done to date. However, many U. Weinberg has addressed this point:. According to the prevailing theory, the black children in the all-black school must be desegregated. But also, many other changes are prescribed for the curriculum, teaching strategies, inservice training, extracurricular activities, textual materials, and much else. But none of these changes is prescribed for the white children in all-white districts, except by osmosis.

How can this be justified educationally?

Race and Sexual Orientation: A Comparison

When groups are isolated from one another, the outcomes are negative attitudes and racial incidents like those we have witnessed recently in New York City, in Boston, and in Wisconsin over fishing rights — and like those that have flared up during the last few years on many college campuses. School desegregation is far from complete. Unless attitudes toward desegregation become more positive, unless all groups of color become actively involved in the desegregation process, and unless educators and the society at large commit themselves to fostering positive contacts among the various population subgroups, the educational fruits that truly desegregated schooling could offer will be unavailable for harvesting.

My class has decided to continue to meet informally through the years, as the participants work out their strategies for implementing multicultural education in their desegregated schools. I hope that the issues raised in this article — increasing the. I know that our minds will have to be open and our attitudes ripe for change. Otherwise, we will continue to hamper the development of students of color — and thereby the development of the entire society.

Desegregation, racial attitudes, and intergroup contact: A discussion of change. Phi Delta Kappan, 72 1 , Your email address will not be published. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. It's not about the bus. Oral histories of Brown v Board plaintiffs. Racial makeup of schools 65 years after Brown. Americans weigh in on importance of racially mixed schools. Segregation and secession. Phyllis L. Joshua P. Unlearning NCLB. Alexander Russo. Julie Underwood. The education legacy of Justice John Paul Stevens.

Maria Ferguson. Preparing effective principal supervisors. Rebecca Thessin, and Karen Seashore Louis. Stay up to date on the latest news, research and commentary from Kappan. Increasing the number of actors in the desegregation equation It has been 36 years since the Supreme Court ruled, in Brown v. Decline of overt bigotry: Rise of covert racism Twenty-five years ago many large U. With regard to the schools, San Miguel observes: In the s Mexican Americans continued to be placed in segregated and inferior schools, in vocational programs, and in remedial programs.

Francis Prucha has described the prevailing perceptions of, and attitudes toward, Native Americans: For some people — a majority perhaps of Americans — Indians are still a romantic topic. Weinberg has addressed this point: According to the prevailing theory, the black children in the all-black school must be desegregated. References Carl A. Grant and Christine E. Sleeter and Carl A. Government Printing Office, , p. Kati Haycock and M.

Commission on Civil Rights, p. Nakanishi and Marsha Hirano-Nakanishi, eds. Haycock and Navarro, p. Yoshiwara, pp. Ethel Simon-McWilliams, ed. Donald R. Kinder and David 0. Christine E. Apple and Linda ChristianSmith, eds. Carl A. Secada, ed. Peter L. For a full discussion of this redress, see U. Government Printing Office, Yoshiwara, p.

For a detailed discussion of these points, see U. Commission on Civil Rights, op. Rose, p. Don T. See, for example, San Miguel, op. Or Media Hype?