Negotiation: Interpersonal Approaches to Intergroup Conflict


This issue considers the emotional complexities of intergroup conflict. The chapter authors examine the relational challenges that youth encounter in dealing with conflict and, combining innovative theory with ambitious practical application, identify conflict management strategies. These interventions have affected millions of youth across the continents.

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This issue considers the emotional complexities of intergroup conflict. The chapter authors examine the relational challenges that youth encounter in dealing with conflict and, combining innovative theory with ambitious practical application, identify conflict management strategies. These interventions have affected millions of youth across the continents.

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Interpersonal Approaches to Intergroup Conflict
By Daniel L. Shapiro

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7879-7649-0

Chapter One

Enhancing collaborative tendencies: Extending the single identity model for youth conflict education

Tricia S. Jones

Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed. -Preamble of the Constitution of the United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

PERHAPS MORE THAN EVER before, we need innovative and successful approaches to developing the defenses of peace in the minds of all humanity. We have witnessed the consequences of not attending to these needs in the many and varied international, interethnic, and intergroup conflicts around the globe. And while there are a variety of approaches to peace education, such as those that Ian Harris and Mary Lee Morrison have chronicled recently, we still know too little about how to encourage a peaceful orientation.

My own reflections on these issues, prompted by two decades of work in conflict education, were stimulated during a three-year project in the Gauteng region of South Africa in the immediate postapartheid era. In this chapter, I share some reflections on our successes and our missed opportunities and integrate those thoughts with more recent developments in peacemaking. The majority of my attention in this chapter is given to exploring the possibilities forconflict intervention using the concept of single identity work as a process that enhances the potential for collaboration among youth involved in entrenched and even intractable conflicts, especially when used in conjunction with contact-based interventions.

Assumptions about reducing intergroup conflict

Several assumptions about the reduction of intergroup conflict guided the initial design of the South Africa project that my colleagues and I developed for the U.S. Information Agency (USIA). Like many other scholar-practitioners working to reduce prejudice and intergroup conflict, we were guided by contact theory and social identity theory.

Contact theory

Since the end of World War II, social scientists have been concerned with how to reduce conflicts between groups, particularly when those conflicts are caused or heightened by identity-based differences. As Thomas Pettigrew and Linda Tropp report, the human relations movement in the late 1940s began experimenting with the use of strategic intergroup contact to reduce discrimination and prejudice. Less than ten years later, Gordon Allport published his groundbreaking work, The Nature of Prejudice, in which he outlined the basic assumptions of contact theory.

For fifty years, Allport's theory has been used as the basis for conflict interventions. During that time, researchers and practitioners have asked, "Under what conditions will contact reduce intergroup hostility?" From the beginning, there was an appreciation that contact alone was not sufficient. Allport's work began by specifying four conditions necessary for contact to have the desired effect:

1. Supportive environment. There should be institutional and social support for the intergroup contact. If social institutions are resistant to the contact or if significant identity groups are not supportive, the contact will have little positive effect.

2. Equal status. There needs to be equal status between the groups. Contact between minority and majority groups is not likely to be successful in reducing hostility unless power balancing between the groups happens first. In fact, contact between power-imbalanced groups can create the opposite effect from that desired.

3. Close contact. In order for the contact to make a difference, it must be close, prolonged, and frequent. In other words, members of the groups have to spend considerable time together over a series of interactions.

4. Cooperation. The interaction of group members must be in an environment of cooperation, not competition. This factor is later echoed in the work of Morton Deutsch, who suggested that cooperative social climates are key to developing constructive and functional conflict processes.

Over the years, research has confirmed that all of these conditions are likely to reduce prejudice and the destructive intergroup conflict associated with discrimination. For example, Pettigrew and Tropp conducted a massive meta-analysis of 203 studies on intergroup contact as an influence on prejudice. Ninety-four percent of these studies found that when contact occurred under these conditions, prejudice was significantly reduced. They also found that the positive impacts applied beyond the groups in conflict. The prejudice reduction in one situation tended to extend to other situations. This is a very hopeful finding, suggesting that youth who become less prejudiced as a result of intergroup contact in one situation are likely to be less prejudiced in general and less likely to develop prejudices when encountering others who are different from them.

This effect is not the same for members of majority and minority groups, however. One cautionary note in Pettigrew and Tropp's analysis was that intergroup contact was much more likely to have the hoped-for effects with members of the majority group. For members of the minority group, the impacts were significantly less evident. Practitioners working with youth from minority groups should realize that additional intervention is probably going to be necessary.

Susan Fiske and her colleagues found an important condition for contact to work. Fiske was interested in why someone would be motivated to work with another whom he or she disliked or disrespected. She argued that in order for contact to make a positive difference, the people involved had to believe that they needed each other in order to achieve some task or goal that was important to them; they had to feel they were socially interdependent. Her research on social interdependence provided support for her assumptions and demonstrated that contact without social interdependence was unlikely to make much difference in the degree of prejudice or discrimination.

Social identity theory

Social science research on prejudice has followed two major theoretical perspectives: contact theory and social identity theory. Contact theory is concerned with how to structure intergroup contact to reduce discrimination, but it does not explain why these intergroup differences exist in the first place.

Social identity theory provides an explanation for why we see our membership in groups as important and why those group loyalties are likely to lead to conflict with people who are not in our group. Social identity theory rests on two premises. First, people see the world in terms of categories in such a way that they minimize the differences between people in the same category and accentuate the differences between categories. Second, since people are members of some categories and not others, there is an in-group/out-group distinction. More important, people gain a sense of identity and an emotional comfort from their membership in the group.

The more we define ourselves in terms of these categories or in-groups, the more we feel the need to defend them against "outsiders." And this need is especially pronounced in adolescence, when the primary life challenge is one of forming and maintaining a social identity.

What do we know about how to counteract our tendency to categorize ourselves and others? Stuart Oskamp has a fairly pessimistic assessment of how much energy we have devoted to this question:

As far back as the 1920s, prejudice has been a major topic of study in the social sciences. In fact, it is one of the most studied areas in all of psychology and sociology. However, most of the research has been aimed at describing the nature of prejudice and understanding its causes, and also, to some extent, at documenting its consequences in people's lives. Probably almost all the researchers wanted to attack prejudice and destroy its pernicious effects, but few of them have concentrated their research energies on the key question of how to reduce prejudice and create a society where equality and social justice are the norm instead of the exception.

John Dovidio agrees that we have posed more possibilities than we have produced processes to accomplish these goals. He and his colleagues explain four models of intervention that can be used to decrease categorization and reduce discrimination: decategorization, recategorization, mutual differentiation, and dual identification:

Decategorization models. These models involve personal contact between members of different social groups. This is a typical outgrowth of contact hypothesis assumptions. Basically, the members of various in-groups are taken out of their groups and put together in social situations for certain periods of time. This contact leads to a breakdown of the stereotype used against the out-group. Once those barriers have lessened and people see each other as individuals, they are less likely to use the group categories to define others.

Recategorization. This model involves uniting the people in a common in-group identity that may be new or may already exist. The hope is that the new group identity will be more important than the old identities-for example, taking "Virginians" and "Georgians" in eighteenth-century America and getting them to see themselves as "Americans." Benjamin Broome has talked about this idea as creating a "third culture." Drawing on his experience in the Greek and Turkish Cypriot conflict, he describes the power of creating a third culture with which members of two conflicting cultural groups can identify.

Mutual differentiation. This model keeps the original social groups and their differences, but sets the groups up to have to work together on some project. For example, I may not attempt to change your mind about the other group or encourage you to see yourselves as more similar, but I will ask you to work together toward the common completion of some goal that we all feel is worthwhile.

Dual identification. In this last model, a new idea that Dovidio and his colleagues developed, people are encouraged to see themselves as members of both their original groups and a new group. In school-based conflicts with youth, there may be fights between "goths" and "geeks." These original groups do not get along. But imagine a third, overarching group identification: "conflict managers" where it is possible to be a goth and a conflict manager or a geek and a conflict manager.

Contact theory and social identity theory offer insights about what to do in a project that brings together people from various cultural and ethnic groups that had traditionally been in serious conflict. Such was the case in the mid-1990s when our team of educators began work on the Community Peace and Safety Networks project in South Africa.

Community Peace and Safety Networks in Johannesburg

If people cannot collaboratively resolve differences, democracies, and especially new democracies, are in jeopardy. Such was the case in 1995, a year after Nelson Mandela had been elected to the presidency of South Africa, a year after the de Klerk government had resigned, ending one of the most dramatic social conflicts of the twentieth century.

It was clearly a period of important and rapid social change for South Africa. The country was in the process of racially integrating institutions that had been completely segregated and unequal for some time. A critical social institution, then and now, was the educational system-the public schools. Our project involved establishing Community Peace and Safety Networks that linked school-based mediation programs and community mediation programs in four sections of Johannesburg.

Community Peace and Safety Networks (CPSN) originated in the Philadelphia region and were used to extend the impact of school-based mediation programs by involving the school, a community conflict management organization, and community members (sometimes involving police, clergy, business owners, or representatives of other community groups based in and dedicated to the neighborhood surrounding the school). The school-based and community-based mediation programs taught children constructive and collaborative approaches to handling conflicts, especially conflicts related to bias, prejudice, and discomfort with cultural diversity.

There were several reasons for the emphasis on school-based conflict programs and conflict education for youth in South Africa. The damage that had been done in the apartheid era struck most devastatingly at the youth of the country. Especially in the townships, children had been raised on a diet of violence. Straker, Mendelsohn, and Tudin studied the perceptions of violence among South African youth in the apartheid and postapartheid periods and found that black-on-black violence did not decrease after the repeal of apartheid; it changed from politically motivated violence to domestic violence and random violence. The township youth increasingly perceived distrust and hostility in the townships. Peace education efforts were seen as opportunities to reverse these conditions. Valerie Dovey stated that the youth "are far more assertive and 'verbal' than their parents ..., but they are often insufficiently equipped to channel their idealism constructively. They need to have opportunities to understand, question, and challenge how society operates and how they can influence peaceful change in a positive way."

After apartheid, schools were seen as an agent of social reform. The Department of Education in South Africa was very explicit about this, as Clive Harver notes in his analysis of peace education programs in South Africa:

In South Africa, government policy since 1994 has strongly emphasized education for peace and democracy. The Department of Education White Paper on Education and Training stated, "The education system must counter the legacy of violence by promoting the values underlying democratic processes and the charter of fundamental rights, the importance of due process of law and exercise of civic responsibility and by teaching the values and skills for conflict management and conflict resolution, the importance of mediation and the benefits of tolerance and cooperation.

Given the changes in educational policy in postapartheid South Africa, schools were becoming more quickly integrated than other institutions. Thus, it was assumed that the educational institutions could teach and model social justice, especially given the success of conflict education in some schools. These programs could build social and life skills, particularly for students in the black townships. Peace and conflict education was a means of strengthening the society to more effectively manage the issues of diversity inherent in the new social configuration. These goals resonated with similar ideologies in the use of peace education for social justice in the United States. And, not unimportant, conflict education programs, like those in this project, have proven effective in increasing social and emotional competencies related to constructive conflict, tolerance, and social justice.

The Community Peace and Safety Networks generally were meant to build cultural bridges in two ways: (1) helping members of diverse cultural groups from South Africa to work together as a team of conflict managers who promote and deliver mediation programs and (2) encouraging South African students, teachers, and community members to collaborate in community outreach activities to increase cultural awareness and promote effective conflict management. The South African team included members from two black African townships (Soweto and Thokoza), an Afrikaans community, and a British community, as well as representatives from a black South African nongovernmental organization. In each community, a school-based conflict education and mediation program was created in a local high school and linked with a community mediation center created in that community. The project took place between 1995 and 1998.


Excerpted from Negotiation by Daniel L. Shapiro Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Foreword 1
Editors' notes 3
1 Enhancing collaborative tendencies : extending the single identity model for youth conflict education 11
2 Seeds of peace : toward a common narrative 35
3 Normalizing effective conflict management through academic curriculum integration : the example of workable peace 47
4 After the fall : a conflict management program to foster open society 69
5 Youth intervention for peace project : Burundi case study 81
6 Challenging intolerance 95
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