‘What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love and understanding?' Further reflections on the limits of prejudice reduction as a model of social change

John Dixon, Kevin Durrheim, Philippa Kerr, Manuela Thomae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper aims to encourage greater reflexivity about the limits of prejudice reduction as a model of social change, particularly when applied to societies characterised by historically entrenched patterns of inequality. We begin by outlining some underlying values and assumptions of this model. We then elaborate how our research on political attitudes in post-apartheid South Africa has led us to question, qualify and sometimes reject those assumptions and move towards a ‘contextualist’ perspective on the efficacy of different models of social change. We agree that the project of getting us to like one another may be crucial for producing change in some contexts. In other contexts, however, it is an epiphenomenon that distracts psychologists from the main causes of, and solutions to, problems such as race, class, or gender discrimination. In still others, with an irony that is evidenced increasingly by research, prejudice reduction may actually contribute to the very problem it is designed to resolve. That is, it may diminish the extent to which social injustice is acknowledged, rejected and challenged.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-252
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Social and Political Psychology
Volume1
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Intergroup relations
  • Prejudice
  • Prejudice reduction
  • Social change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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