The Social Psychologyof Intergroup Relations

Authored by: Nicole Tausch , Katharina Schmid , Miles Hewstone

Handbook on Peace Education

Print publication date:  September  2009
Online publication date:  February  2011

Print ISBN: 9780805862522
eBook ISBN: 9780203837993
Adobe ISBN: 9781136874529


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Although peace education encompasses a variety of activities and programs, its eventual goal is to reduce intergroup conflict and to promote more harmonious intergroup relations. Central to the social psychology of conflict resolution is the idea that intergroup conflicts have distinct psychological components, such as threatened social identities, that can contribute to a continuation of the conflict even after the initial, objective causes have become irrelevant (Tajfel & Turner, 1979). The aim of this chapter is to present an overview of the social-psychological foundations of intergroup conflict and to illustrate how an understanding of these can inform conflict resolution and peace education. The chapter unfolds in three main parts. First, we lay out the basic processes of social categorization and identification and discuss the main social-psychological theories which underline the role of threat in intergroup conflict. Second, we provide an overview of social-psychological approaches to reduce intergroup conflict that have been developed on the basis of these principles. Finally, we summarize the implications of social-psychological work for peace education and acknowledge the limitations of social-psychological approaches to conflict resolution.

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