Self-categorization and social identification: Making sense of us and them

Al Ramiah Ananthi, Hewstone Miles, Katharina Schmid

Research output: Book chapterChapter

Abstract

Social identity processes are at the heart of social psychological theory and research, and are known to play a pivotal role in a vast array of individual-level and social phenomena, including, for example, health and well-being (see, e.g., Branscombe, Schmitt & Harvey, 1999), educational achievement (see, e.g., Steele, Spencer & Aronson, 2002), and collective action and crowd behaviour (see, e.g., van Zomeren, Postmes, & Spears, 2008). This chapter provides a general overview of social psychological theory on social identity, including social identity theory (Tajfel, 1978; Tajfel & Turner, 1979) and self-categorization theory (Turner, Hogg, Oakes, Reicher, & Wetherell, 1987). Prior to these seminal writings of Tajfel and Turner, theoretical explanations of intergroup relations and intergroup conflict were dominated by two types of theory. First, so-called 'prejudice' accounts proposed that intergroup conflict arises due to individual-level variations in a prejudiced personality, and, later, by realistic group conflict theory (Campbell, 1965; Sherif, 1966). Second, realistic group conflict theory contended that negative intergroup relations are a consequence of conflicting group goals and a competition over resources or power (see e.g., Jackson, 1993, for a review). Compared with these types of theory, social identity theory and self-categorization theory offered a unique and theoretically advanced account to explaining intergroup relations, and one that remains important to this day. In fact, these two linked theoretical approaches constitute the most popular social-psychological approach to intergroup relations (yielding over 2.2 million and 7,910 entries in Google Scholar, respectively).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTheories in social psychology
Pages211-231
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011

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