Institute of Social Psychology, LSE, Flagship lecture series, 2010-11 Identities, representations and prejudice SOCIAL IDENTITY THEORY: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION Prof Catherine Campbell. Learning outcomes Describe social identity theory with reference to Tajfel and Turner
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Institute of Social Psychology, LSE, Flagship lecture series, 2010-11Identities, representations and prejudiceSOCIAL IDENTITY THEORY: A BRIEF INTRODUCTIONProf Catherine Campbell
Haslam, A. (2001) Psychology in organisations: The Social Identity Approach. London: Sage. (especially chapter 2).
Positive experiences of participation enable people to ‘revise’ negative social identities and build more empowered views of themselves and their communities
Ideally, this new sense of self as social agents enable people to resist / challenge negative social relations that place health and well-being at risk and to fight for social change
Campbell, C and Jovchelovitch, S (2000) Health, Community and Development: Towards a Social Psychology of Participation. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology. 10. 255-270
Campbell and Scott chapter in The Social Psychology of Communication, edited by Hook et al (2010)
Campbell and Scott chapter in Global Health Communication, edited by Waisbord et al (2011)
2 sub-systems of identity
SI constructed via in-group/out-group comparisons – SIT seeks to explain inter-group relations
3. HISTORY OF
SOCIAL IDENTITY THEORY
Realistic conflict theory (M & C Sherif)
The mere fact of categorisation is enough to cause ingroup bias.
Minimal Group Experiments
People assigned to groups on the basis of very minimal identifications (e.g. Klee vs Kandinsky) – persistently discriminated in favour of the in-group
What strategies do members of devalued social groups use to achieve self-esteem?
Turner et al. (1987) Rediscovering the social group.
Focus on cognitive processes
Talks about self-categorisations rather than group memberships.
How far does SIT address stigma and prejudice?
What, if anything, needs to be ‘added’ to the theory to expand its explanatory power?
Billig, M (1985). Prejudice, categorisation and particularisation: From a perceptual to a rhetorical approach. European Journal of Social Psychology, 15, 79-103.
7. BILLIG’S CRITIQUE OF SIT’S LIMITED VIEW OF COGNITION
- has limited account of the cognitive processes underlying identity formation
Billig criticises Tajfel’s account of categorisation:
SIT CAN explain that we tend to discriminate between one social grouping and another
SIT CANNOT explain the criteria we use for distinguishing groups (e.g. skin colour)
SIT CANNOT explain the meaning we give to these distinctions
Foster, D (1991) Social Psychology in South Africa. Johannesburg: Lexicon
Duveen, G. (2001) Representations, Identities and resistance. In Deaux, K. and Philogene, G. Representations of the Social. Oxford: Blackwells.
Social representations Theory:
-human beings collectively negotiate the contents of their social identities through interaction in everyday contexts (Moscovici, Howarth, Jovchelovitch)
-Social representations form the symbolic fields within which we construct our social identities
-They are constructed in the constant process of communication between people on a day to day basis
-Look at the processes through which we draw on social representations (of blackness, whiteness etc) in constructing our social identities
-And look at the social circumstances and the power relations which perpetuate the views and interests of certain social groups over those of others (rich vs poor, men vs women, adults vs youth or elderly, white vs black)
Howarth, C. (2002) Identity in Whose Eyes? The Role of Representations in Identity Construction. Journal of the Theory of Social Behaviour. 32:2. Howarth, C. (2002) ‘So, you’re from Brixton?’ The Struggle for Recognition and Esteem in a Multicultural Community. (2002) Ethnicities 2:2
How far does the theory address stigma and prejudice?
SIT explains the cognitive processes through which stigma and prejudice are constructed, but it needs to be combined with SRT to understand the content and direction of stigma and prejudice
Social representations theory provides an excellent ‘companion’ to SIT/SCT – to complement its focus on cognitive processes with attention to:
POWER: Its focus on the individual-society interface (compared to SIT’s individual focus)
PROCESS: Its emphasis on the fact that social representations are constantly constructed and reconstructed as human beings collectively participate in the ever-changing nature of society and culture
RESISTANCE: Opens up the possibility of understanding resistance by stigmatised groups, sees them as capable of empowerment and not just victims of their social settings
*Howarth, C. (2006). Race as stigma: Positioning the stigmatised as agents, not objects. In Campbell, C. & Deacon, H. (Guest editors). (2006). Stigma. Special edition of Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 16.