Peace and the Politics of Contact: A Brief History

Phillip L. Hammack

in Narrative and the Politics of Identity

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780195394467
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199863488 | DOI:
Peace and the Politics of Contact: A Brief History

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This chapter constructs a narrative that contextualizes the intervention efforts examined in this study of Israeli and Palestinian youth. It outlines, in broad strokes, the history of the contact hypothesis and its grounding in an American context of interracial relations. It suggests that, as the cultural grounding of the contact hypothesis has been increasingly interrogated, the notion that conflict is primarily a product of individual personality development has been contested. An integrated approach that recognizes the social structural origins of conflict and their consequences for social cognition and intergroup behavior was developed by Henri Tajfel and his colleagues in the UK as an alternative to this original emphasis on personality. Based on a brief review of Israeli–Palestinian contact, it is argued that the history of those efforts actually runs parallel to this intellectual history within social psychology. The growing influence of social identity theory among practitioners of intergroup encounters in Israel provides evidence of this parallel history.

Keywords: contact hypothesis; Israeli youth; Palestinian youth; social psychology; social identity

Chapter.  9518 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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