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By Tony Gallagher (auth.)

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Extra resources for Education in Divided Societies

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Conclusion In this chapter we have considered some of the broad themes which have informed psychological discussions on prejudice and intergroup conflict over a considerable period of time. We focused on a number of particular moments in the development of psychological theory. In the early, pre-war, years, psychologists sought to understand some of the basic processes involved in perception and how, if at all, they might influence the development of prejudice within some people. One of the main themes to emerge from this work was that while there might be some differences in the ways prejudiced and tolerant individuals use cognitive processes, they all used essentially the same type of processes.

Land reform measures were introduced, education was secularised, the Jesuit order was dissolved and Church-state ties were ended. In 1933 a coalition of centre-right parties was elected and began to reverse some of these measures. Left-wing and regionalist groups opposed this retrenchment, leading to social instability, the collapse of the coalition in 1935 and the election of a new, left-wing coalition in 1936. This coalition restored the previous measures, but social instability remained high.

Later research by Sherif and Tajfel highlighted the relative ease with which intergroup behaviour, and even conflict, could be generated. These could be contrasted with the relative difficulty in finding mechanisms for reducing conflict once it had occurred. In general, however, a similar emergent theme came from these studies as with the earlier 34 Education in Divided Societies ones: the processes involved in conflict and prejudice appear not only to be common, but also to be completely normal. This might lead to a fatalistic conclusion that, if categorisation is inevitable, then the division of people into separate groups is inevitable, and so too is intergroup conflict.

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