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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

Realistic Conflict Theory’

Race and Demographics: Biden’s Challenge

So, thankfully, Joe Biden got enough Electoral College votes to claim victory in the 2020 US presidential election. However, it is far from the landslide that the more wishful-thinking Democrats had hoped for and which might have obliged Donald Trump to concede defeat. As it is, Trump is threatening a barrage of lawsuits to challenge the results in several states, alleging electoral fraud. Given that a Michigan judge has already rejected the Trump campaign’s allegations as lacking any substance, as reported by CNN’s Jessica Schneider & Laura Jarrett, Trump may find he simply doesn’t have the backing of his sponsors and donors to pursue his case throughout so many courts. According to Sky News’ James Matthews, some of Trump’s closest advisers are against his continuing Tweets about electoral fraud and senior Republicans such as Maryland governor Larry Hogan and Congressman Adam Kinzinger are calling for Trump to cease these allegations. However, given Trump’s history of erratic behaviour, it is entirely possible that he may refuse to accept Biden’s victory and resist his own dismissal, using every tactic available to him, from the courts to white supremacist militias like the infamous Proud Boys. So unpredictable is Trump seen to be that there are… Read More

Prejudice & Discrimination Theories #2

PART 2 Realistic Conflict Theory It is widely recognised that people tend to identify with their groups. They also tend to have negative views about some other groups – out-groups. But why do some outgroups attract hostility and discrimination but others are treated neutrally or sometimes even admired? This is what Realistic Conflict Theory (RCT) tries to explain. RCT states that, whenever there are 2 or more groups seeking the same limited resources, this will lead to conflict, negative stereotypes and beliefs about the out-group – prejudice –  and discrimination between the groups. The negative beliefs about the out-group become shared memes, affecting the schematic set-up of the group members. The conflict generated can lead to increasing animosity and eventually to violence. Competition over resources can be played out as a ‘zero-sum game’, in which only one group is the winner (obtained the needed or wanted resources) and the other loses (unable to obtain the limited resource due to the winning group achieving the limited resource first). The likely length and severity of the conflict is based upon the perceived value and shortage of the given resource. It is tempting to think of ‘limited resources’ as BEIGE survival needs – eg:… Read More

The Prison Studies #2

PART 2 Evaluation of the Stanford Prison Experiment Most criticisms of Zimbardo’s study are on ethical issues:- Zimbardo deceived the ‘prisoner’ participants, with their arrest at the beginning of the experiment. They were not told partly because final approval from the police wasn’t given until minutes before the arrests were due to begin and partly because the researchers wanted the arrests to come as a surprise. However this was a breach of the ethics of Zimbardo’s own contract that all of the participants had signed It was not ethically acceptable to expose people to such degradation and hostility even with their fully-informed consent Zimbardo being both ‘superintendent’ and chief researcher produced a conflict of roles whereby he lost sight of the harm being done to the participants – in effect he undermined his own competence to conduct the study,  competence of the researcher being somewhat  belatedly recognised as a key ethical issue by the British Psychological Society in 2006 Those who had been guards had to face up to the disconcerting fact that they had been willing to mistreat their prisoners. Guard ‘A’ said in debrief: “I was surprised at myself – I made them call each other names and clean the toilets out with… Read More

The Case for a Second EU Referendum is now compelling

Even if, following the departures of David Davis and Boris Johnson (and a minor slew of lesser Tories), Theresa May can impose a workable degree of collective responsibility on her new-look Cabinet….even if, as reported by BBC News (2018b), the 1922 Committee has yet to receive the full 48 letters from MPs required to trigger a ‘no confidence’ vote in her as leader of the Conservatives…even if there are no more big name resignations…the chances of May’s compromise fudge, supposedly accepted by all Cabinet members at Chequers last Friday (6 August), forming a viable starting point for negotiating the UK’s future relationship with the European Union are minimal. As Kirsty Hughes of the Scottish Centre for European Relations explained to The National’s Emer O’Toole: “This is the cherry picking that the EU has made clear will not be allowed to proceed…[the EU] will not go for such cherry-picking of the single market and the four freedoms.” The UK leaving the EU with no trade deal will indeed hurt companies in a number of member states. However, as been widely and consistently reported – eg: Paul Withers (2018a) in the Daily Express – for Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, the integrity of the single market and… Read More

How the Plutocrats are waging War on the Bureaucrats… #2

PART 2 Tax obligations and ‘offshoring’ Besides intensely disliking bodies like the European Union due to the laws and regulations they impose on issues like consumer rights, health & safety and worker’s rights, the Plutocracy and the Elite have another very real reason to want to see such bodies severely emasculated if not actually broken up: tax. ‘Offshoring’, in the words of John Urry (2013), “involves moving resources, practices, peoples and monies from one national territory to another but hiding them within  secrecy jurisdictions as they move  through routes wholly or partly hidden from view. Offshoring involves evading rules, laws, taxes, regulations or norms. It is all about rule-breaking, getting around rules in ways that are illegal, or go against the spirit of the law, or which use laws in one jurisdiction to undermine laws in another. Offshore worlds are full of secrets and lies.” Secrecy jurisdictions – or ‘treasure islands’ as Nicholas Shaxson (2011) terms them – are tax havens which provide varying degrees of secrecy – ie: freedom from disclosure. This is to attract foreign individuals who wish to hide assets or income to avoid or reduce taxes in the home tax jurisdiction. Relevant laws and approaches to the… Read More

Whither the EU..?

‘Whither the EU?’ is, according to BBC News (2016b), the likely theme for Slovakian president Robert Fico’s proposed informal summit of European Union leaders, to be held in Bratislava in September. (Slovakia assumed the presidency on 1 July.) As the Slovak-Hungarian Most-Hid (Bridge) party, the junior partner in Fico’s coalition government, has said in a statement: “Britain’s decision completely changes the Slovak presidency, it becomes the number one issue… It is extremely important that Slovakia rises to the challenge of this presidency, for never before has a presiding country faced such a tough task”.  Whether or not the UK goes through with a complete ‘hard’ Brexit in quite the way Nigel Farage and Michael Gove called for – and, according to The Guardian’s Jennifer Rankin, US secretary of state John Kerry certainly believes that can be avoided – the EU has huge challenges it must face or it risks falling apart, with dissension between its leaders and more and more far right parties demanding their own version of Brexit. Le Front National’s Marine Le Pen has been a thorn in François Hollande’s side for several years, her demands for a ‘Frexit’ referendum becoming more vociferous in tandem with the fast-growing popularity of Le Front. Neo-Nazi Austrian presidential candidate… Read More

The Trouble with Tribalism…

7 July 2016 …is that most Western politicians don’t get it. It’s seen as something relevant to Pre-Modern ‘primitive’ communities but not to Modern societies. And, when Western-style one person/one (secret) vote Democracy is offered to tribal communities as part of the Modernisation process, so many Western leaders seem genuinely perplexed at the relative lack of enthusiasm for it. The Americans in particular seemed baffled that attempts to embed Democracy in the wake of their invasions of the Noughties produced the markedly-corrupt government of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan and the corrupt and overtly-sectarian government of Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq. A Do-It-Yourself attempt to introduce Democracy in Egypt produced a government (of the Islamic Brotherhood) so unacceptable to the urban middle classes and the army that a ‘sort-of coup’ was instigated, followed by rigged elections, to return the country to neo-military rule as before. Highly-controversial and bitterly-contested ‘democratic’ elections following Libya’s revolutionary civil war resulted in 2 – and arguably 3? – would-be governments claiming the right to rule with their various militia, often organised on sectarian or tribal lines, slugging it out in a patchy, second civil war. Anyone versed in the Gravesian approach could have told the Western planners and the internet-inspired urban ‘democrats’ of Egypt that their campaigns to introduce Western-style Democracy would hit trouble. (See:… Read More

Robber’s Cave

Relaunched: 4 March 2018 The Robber’s Cave study is on a par with Stanley Milgrim’s ‘Obedience Experiments’ and Philip Zimbardo’s infamous prison study at Stanford University (Craig Haney, Curtis Bank & Philip Zimbardo, 1973), both for its sheer audaciousness and what it tells us about situational pressures to produce normative influence. Muzafer Sherif had been a growing force in the development of Social Psychology ever since his ‘autokinetic effect’ experiments in 1935 had developed the concept of conformity that would come to be known as informational influence. In fact, Sherif could be considered one of the founders of Social Psychology. His work was also highly thought of by interactionist sociologists, becoming the first psychologist to receive the Cooley-Mead Award for contributions to Social Psychology from the American Sociological Association. By the end of the 1940s his interest in understanding social processes, particularly social norms and social conflict had led him to conceive of developing a field experiment in which pubescent boys would be nurtured into forming 2 distinctive teams with strong group identities to see how conflict between the 2 groups could be exacerbated and then reduced. This would be the basis of the famous and challenging Robber’s Cave study of 1954 (Muzafer Sherif et al, 1961).… Read More

Islamification: Europe’s Challenge #2

PART 2 Preparing for change British Home Secretary Theresa May was vilified by much of the media for her 6 October speech at the Conservative Party conference for saying (amongst other things):  “… when immigration is too high, when the pace of change is too fast, it’s impossible to build a cohesive society.” (The Guardian’s Alan Travis called it a “new low in politics of migration”.) However, May was merely echoing the Functionalist argument of Talcott Parsons (1966) that sudden large-scale change disrupts the equilibrium of society and leads to dysfunction. Parsons postulates that social change is necessary for a society to renew and refresh itself but at a gradual pace which the institutions of society can adjust to and cope with. The disruption of equilibrium brought on by significant sudden large-scale change can bring about conflict. Over the past half-century Western Europe has been flooded with migrants. Their cultures were initially marginalised and disregarded – and then, through Multiculturalism, given nominal equal status with the host majority and a degree of positive discrimination to help foster that equality. A half-century is a relatively short amount of time to assimilate such large-scale changes. In retrospect, it’s surprising that there hasn’t been more overt conflict… Read More

Is Racism Natural..?

Updated: 9 November 2015 In my past as a part-time teacher, teaching psychological and sociological approaches to prejudice & discrimination, every year I found myself confronted with this question from one or more of my A-Level students. With posters on some Internet discussion forums making statements like: “I think they [British National Party, Britain First, etc] is only saying what most people think but are too afraid to say” , it seems appropriate to me to revisit the students’ question from an Integrated SocioPsychology perspective. It was explaining Henri Tajfel & John Turner’s Social Identity Theory (1979) in relation to the formation of in-groups and out-groups that usually triggered the student’s question as to whether racism is natural. In essence, Tajfel & Turner say that, simply by identifying yourself with one group as opposed to another, your group becomes the in-group and the other becomes the out-group. According to Tajfel & Turner, this basic act of social categorisation – one group has one identity label and the other group has a different identity label – is enough to bring about prejudice and discrimination. Because we invest something of our self in the groups to which we belong, we need our in-groups to… Read More