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Learning outcomes Describe social identity theory with reference to Tajfel and Turner Discuss the roots of SIT in the mi

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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Learning outcomes Describe social identity theory with reference to Tajfel and Turner Discuss the roots of SIT in the mi

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  1. Institute of Social Psychology, LSE, Flagship lecture series, 2010-11Identities, representations and prejudiceSOCIAL IDENTITY THEORY: A BRIEF INTRODUCTIONProf Catherine Campbell

  2. Learning outcomes • Describe social identity theory with reference to Tajfel and Turner • Discuss the roots of SIT in the minimal group experiments • Outline the cognitive and motivational processes underlying identity formation • Critically evaluate how far the theory addresses stigma and prejudice • Identify the role of representations in the construction of social identities and prejudice.

  3. ORGS focus • How do people behave in groups? • e.g. resistance to change in mergers of commercial organisations Haslam, A. (2001) Psychology in organisations: The Social Identity Approach. London: Sage. (especially chapter 2).

  4. HCD focus 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

  5. COMMs focus • Media • Education • Psycho-therapy 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)

  6. 1. INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS 2 sub-systems of identity • personal • social SI constructed via in-group/out-group comparisons – SIT seeks to explain inter-group relations

  7. 2. DEFINITIONS OF SOCIAL IDENTITY • “the individual’s knowledge that he (sic) belongs to certain social groups, together with some emotional and value significance to him of the group membership” (Tajfel, 1972, p. 31) • The SELF consists of a loose association of group memberships. Different groups become SALIENT (“switched on”) in different social situations.

  8. 3. HISTORY OF SOCIAL IDENTITY THEORY Realistic conflict theory (M & C Sherif) • Inter-group conflict caused by incompatible goals or competition over scarce resources. • Inter-group harmony results from superordinate goals or cooperative activities between groups.

  9. 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

  10. 4. PROCESSES UNDERLYING IDENTITY FORMATION COGNITIVE PROCESSES • Categorisation – simplifies perception (cognitive miser view) • Social comparison – ingroups vs outgroups MOTIVATIONAL PROCESSES • Self-esteem/ self-enhancement

  11. 5. SOCIAL IDENTITY AND SOCIAL STRUCTURE What strategies do members of devalued social groups use to achieve self-esteem?

  12. Strategies • Individual mobility • Social competition • Cognitive alternatives • Illegitimate • Unstable • Social creativity • Changing the comparison out-group

  13. 6. SELF-CATEGORISATION THEORY Turner et al. (1987) Rediscovering the social group. Focus on cognitive processes Talks about self-categorisations rather than group memberships. • Different self-categorisations become SALIENT (“switched on”) in different social situations. • How do we decide which categorisation to switch on in which situation?

  14. The cognitive system is engaged in a continual SEARCH FOR COHERENCE • FIT X ACCESSIBILITY • Accessibility: the readiness of a given category to become activated (switched on) on the basis of past experience of similar situations • Fit: the degree to which reality actually matches the criteria which define the self-categorisation.

  15. Debate How far does SIT address stigma and prejudice? What, if anything, needs to be ‘added’ to the theory to expand its explanatory power?

  16. 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 • implies that racism is a necessary evil - has limited account of the cognitive processes underlying identity formation

  17. Billig criticises Tajfel’s account of categorisation: • Tajfel “assumes the inevitability of prejudice, while ignoring the phenomenon of tolerance” • his model of human cognition “emphasises categorisation, ignoring the equally important cognitive process of particularisation” • his approach ignores the role of social context in shaping the categorisation process

  18. 8. ‘REDUCTIONIST’ CRITIQUES OF SOCIAL IDENTITY 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

  19. SIT/SCT is ‘reductionist’ through its neglect of social context • For Foster, the categorisation of people into different social groupings (e.g. black and white) represents and INTERPRETATION of the world rather than a DESCRIPTION of it. • This process of interpretation is heavily influenced by • social context and • power relations

  20. Reicher, S. (2004) The Context of Social Identity: Domination, Resistance and Change. Political Psychology, 25(6) • Reicher says its unfair to describe SIT/SCT as ‘reductionist’ • If we ‘marry’ SIT/SCT with a theory of society and power, it becomes a powerful tool for understanding power relations and the possibility of social change

  21. 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)

  22. 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 • Which groups are stigmatised? • What are the social conditions within which prejudiced representations are constructed?

  23. Social representations theory provides an excellent ‘companion’ to SIT/SCT – to complement its focus on cognitive processes with attention to: • the socially constructed representations that shape the content of social identities; and • the social processes through which social representations are constructed, internalised and/or resisted in particular social settings

  24. Advantages: 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.

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