ITEM METADATA RECORD
Title: Flanders' real and present threat: How representations of intergroup relations shape attitudes towards Muslim minorities
Authors: Van Acker, Kaat
Issue Date: 13-Dec-2012
Abstract: <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0cm;margin-bottom:.0001pt;text-align:justify;text-indent:35.4pt;line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Cambria&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;;mso-ascii-theme-font:major-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:major-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US">In this thesis, I studied the attitudes of Flemishmajority members towards Muslim minorities. In particular, I set out tounderstand majority members’ feelings ofthreat as well as their restrictive acculturation attitudes – i.e. theirlimited approval of minority culture maintenance and their high expectations ofmajority culture adoption. I examined how majority members’ acculturationattitudes and feelings of threat are related to (a) their individual experiencesand perceptions (chapters 2-3) and to (b) collective representations ofmajority-minority relations (chapters 4 to 6). <span style="font-size:11.0pt;font-family:&quot;Cambria&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;;mso-ascii-theme-font:major-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:major-latin" lang="EN-US">At the level of the individual, Istudied the role of majority perceptions of minority acculturation as well asmajority members’ own contact experiences with minority members. A survey study(Chapter 2) yielded<span style="font-size:11.0pt;font-family:&quot;Cambria&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;;mso-ascii-theme-font:major-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:major-latin;mso-ansi-language:EN-GB;mso-fareast-language:NL" lang="EN-GB"> that majority members feelmore threatened to the extent that they perceive Muslim minorities to maintaintheir minority culture, and not to adopt the majority culture. Majoritymembers’ feelings of threat in turn,were associated with more restrictive acculturation attitudes<span style="font-size:11.0pt;font-family:&quot;Cambria&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;;mso-ascii-theme-font:major-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:major-latin" lang="EN-US">. There is thus an important relationship between the way in whichmajorities perceive minority acculturation, and their attitudes concerning thetype of minority acculturation that would be desirable. In a secondexperimental study (Chapter3), I found further evidence that majority membersperceive minority culture maintenance and majority culture adoption asincompatible. I also examined the roleof contact: I found that positive contact experiences were associatedwith lower feelings of threat, which in turn were related to less restrictiveacculturation attitudes (Chapter 2). However, on average, majority members’ contact experiences werenegative rather than positive. Jointly, the first two studies suggest that majority members’ perception of Muslimminorities as both reluctant to adopt the majority culture and committed totheir culture of heritage and their rather negative contact experiences with Muslimminorities are at the basis of their feelings of threat and restrictiveacculturation attitudes. <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0cm;margin-bottom:.0001pt;text-align:justify;line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Cambria&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;;mso-ascii-theme-font:major-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:major-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US"> Inthe last three chapters, I studied the role of collective representations ofintergroup relations in majority members’ acculturation attitudes and feelingsof threat. I analyzed representations of current intergroup relations in mediaand political communications, and found evidence for two very differentrepresentations (Chapter 4, Study 1).Most pervasive were representations ofimmigrant minorities as threatening the majority, but an alternativerepresentation in which immigrant minorities were seen as disrespected by themajority also occurred. A subsequent experiment revealed that threatrepresentations legitimize majority members’ restrictive acculturationattitudes. In contrast, the alternativerepresentation of immigrant minorities as disrespected by the majorityde-legitimizes high expectations of culture adoption and motivates support forimmigrant minorities’ culture maintenance (Chapter 4, Study 2). In a dailydiary study (Chapter 5), I found that majority members who endorsed arepresentation of minorities as threatening reported more negative appraisalsand more negative affect during ongoing interactions with minority members,whereas majorities who endorsed a representation of minorities as disrespectedby the majority reported more positiveappraisals as well as more positive emotions during these interactions. In afinal series of studies (Chapter 6), I show that drawing an analogy betweenpresent and past intergroup relations can serve to (de-)legitimize currentintergroup attitudes. Both a survey study and an experiment yielded lessfeelings of threat towards Muslims in contemporary Belgium when participantssaw an analogy between the discrimination and stigmatization of Muslims now andJews during WWII.<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom:0cm;margin-bottom:.0001pt;text-align:justify;line-height:normal"><span style="font-family:&quot;Cambria&quot;,&quot;serif&quot;;mso-ascii-theme-font:major-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:major-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-ansi-language:EN-US" lang="EN-US"> Inconclusion, this dissertation takes a two-pronged approach from individualunderstandings and collective representations of intergroup relations to thestudy of majority attitudes towards Muslim minorities. I identify pervasiverepresentations of threat as a major explanation for majority members’ negativeattitudes towards immigrant minorities and show that an alternativerepresentation, which attributes responsibility to majority members, can be aneffective means to reduce the current hostility. 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Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: TH
Appears in Collections:Social and Cultural Psychology

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