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Intergroup Contact Can Be An Effect Strategy To Reduce Discrimination

688 words - 3 pages

Research over the last several decades has shown that intergroup contact can be an effective strategy to reduce discrimination. In 1954, Allport outlined four conditions for optimal contact; equal status in the situation, common goals, cooperation, and institutional support. Common goals and cooperation were later combined as interdependence by Sherif. Although these four factors may lead to optimal outcomes, depending on the situation, positive outcomes can be achieved even if all four factors are not satisfied. Moreover, the historical nature of the relationship between target groups defines which of the conditions will be the most important. If the historical nature of the relationship has been quite tense (such as groups that have overt histories of intergroup violence) then institutional support is the most important factor. However, for groups that have had less tense relations, interdependence is the most important factor in achieving a positive outcome. In addition, to Allport’s four conditions, contact over a long duration is also needed to achieve the best intergroup outcomes.
If groups have had tense relations, institutional support is a necessary condition for advantageous intergroup contact. Because beneficial intergroup outcomes are only achieved through positive interactions, contact that causes anxiety or leads to physical and emotional violence must be avoided. Since it is likely for anxiety or violence to arise in natural contact situations between two groups that have had tense relations, institutional support may help restructure the interaction in a positive way. Institutions (laws, culture, officials, etc.) that are acknowledged by both groups can shift social norms to make contact between groups seem acceptable. This will allow the individuals to recognize members of the other group as peers. It will also cause individuals to gain knowledge and feel empathy for the other group, which will decrease prejudice between groups. On the contrary, without institutional support, either the groups will decline to come in contact with each other (because contact may be seen as deviant) or will only experience negative contact such as violence.
On the other...

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