Racial Encounter : The Social Psychology of Contact and Desegregation book cover
1st Edition

Racial Encounter
The Social Psychology of Contact and Desegregation

ISBN 9781138876897
Published December 22, 2014 by Routledge
272 Pages

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Book Description

The political and legislative changes which took place in South Africa during the 1990s, with the dissolution of apartheid, created a unique set of social conditions. As official policies of segregation were abolished, people of both black and white racial groups began to experience new forms of social contact and intimacy.

By examining these emerging processes of intergroup contact in South Africa, and evaluating related evidence from the US, Racial Encounter offers a social psychological account of desegregation. It begins with a critical analysis of the traditional theories and research models used to understand desegregation: the contact hypothesis and race attitude theory. It then analyzes every day discourse about desegregation in South Africa, showing how discourse shapes individuals' conception and management of their changing relationships and acts as a site of ideological resistance to social change. The connection between place, identity and re-creation of racial boundaries emerge as a central theme of this analysis.

This book will be of interest to social psychologists, students of intergroup relations and all those interested in post-apartheid South Africa.

Table of Contents

Introduction. Part I. The Contact Hypothesis Reconsidered. The Contact Hypothesis as a Framework for Understanding the Social Psychology of Desegregation. Contact and the ‘Ecology’ of Everyday Relations. ‘You Have to be Scared when they’re in their Masses’: Working Models of Contact in Ordinary Accounts of Interaction and Avoidance. Part II: Attitudes to Desegregation Reconsidered. Attitudes Towards Desegregation as a Framework for Understanding the Social Psychology of Desegregation. Evaluative Practices: A Discursive Approach to Investigating Desegregation Attitudes. Lay Ontologizing: Everyday Explanations of Segregation and Desegregation. Group Differences in Narrating the ‘Lived Experience’ of Desegregation. Part II: ‘Locating’ the Social Psychology of Contact and Desegregation. Dislocating Identity: Desegregation and the Transformation of Place. Conclusions: ‘Racial Preferences’ and the Tenacity of Segregation.

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Kevin Durrheim is Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

John Dixon is Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology at the University of Lancaster




'This is an excellent book. It is a joy to read on a number of levels. It is clear, thoughtful and weaves its way through the different literatures of racism and segregation in a subtle but surefooted manner. The breadth of the authors' scholarship shows through, as does the value of their use of a case study to focus everything around.' - Jonathan Potter,  Professor of Discourse Analysis in the Department of Social Sciences, Loughborough University

"This is a marvellous book. It is sharp, clear, bright-minded and deals with a very important issue for group relations in general: the psychology of segregation and desegregation. It is a major contribution to our new era (post 1990) understanding of contact and group relations in deeply divided societies." - Don Foster, PINS - Vol. 42, 2011