Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Multiculturalism and Social Pyschology

Mayjel Verkuyten has an interesting review of the social psychology literature on multicutluralism in the Oct 2007 edition of Social and Personality Psychology Compass. Exposure to multicultural framings increases the majority group's opinion of minority groups but also downplays intergroup differences and provides challenges for people who are low identifiers with their ethnic groups. Here's the key quote in his piece:

a focus on groups and group differences is understandable and, to a certain extent, useful, for example, for improving intergroup relations. It can, however, also lead to a situation in which these identities become overwhelming or unidimensional and society, out-groups and in-groups oblige people to place this particular identity in the forefront of their minds and make it central in their behaviour.

Personally mose of my students, being good neo-liberals, love the idea of an "identity free for all" and have little tolerance for the idea of focusing on group identity. This isn't surprising since majority students have little to worry about in terms of the loss of cultural identity. A pedagogical challenge is to get them to focus on group difference to begin with.

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