Insights from the discipline of psychology can be used to design societies compatible with the exigencies and opportunities provided by the 21st Century.
Prepared as a keynote address for the conference "Multiculturalism: Diversity in Action" held at the University of Tartu in Tartu, Estonia, May 6, 1998.
Unity in Diversity:
Orientations and Strategies for Building a Harmonious Multicultural Society
My objective is none other than the betterment of the world
and the tranquility of its peoples. The well-being of mankind,
its peace and security are unattainable unless and until
its unity is firmly established.
In discussing the important emergence of global social
change organizations, Cooperrider and Pasmore (1991) observed that, "So
much of what is being said and done in our journals is beside the point,
unrelated to the crucial questions of human relationships in a global era of
unprecedented change." (p. 771). The emergence of new political states and
their assertions of a distinctive identity is one manifestation of this epocal
ferment (Naisbitt and Aburdene, 1990, ch. 4). Many such states are young and
enterprising enough to consider carefully the vision that will guide their
nation-building and channel their selection of institutions, laws, and norms
This paper is offered in light of Cooperrider and
Pasmore's (1991) challenge to be relevant, recent world developments, and
the conviction that planned change is possible. I am a social psychologist. I
have read widely in culture and cross-cultural interaction to help produce a
recent text (Smith and Bond, 1998), and have long held a keen interest in
humane forms of association. These two parts of my personal history have led
me to ask how the yield from our discipline's labors can be used to design
societies that are compatible with the presses and opportunities provided by
the 21st century.
In assuming this novel task, I will step outside my
typical stance of purported objectivity and value-free analysis. I share what
Cooperrider and Pasmore (1991) identified as, "something of a 'hidden hunger'
among social theorists from throughout the world to make their lives and
their work count, and count affirmatively, as it relates to the questions of
survival and human dignity in our time." (p. 779). Of course, many people share
this hope for their labors in this life. Perhaps as social scientists, however,
we are uniquely trained "to put idealism on empirical footing and to construct
a science whose constructive mandate is to become a generative-theoretical
partner with evolution itself, in the service of promoting the widest good and,
ultimately, in the service of life." (Cooperrider and Pasmore, 1991, p. 780)
Certainly we can address questions about the probable consequences of the
value stances and procedures, or what I have called "orientations and
strategies", adopted by people, groups, organizations and nations.
Awareness of these consequences can then be used to
inform the consultation about what kind of social forms we wish to govern
ourselves by as we structure our future. Our social scientific knowledge of
persuasion techniques may even be used to ensure that awareness of these
consequences figures in the consultation! Many other parties will be involved
in this on-going dialogue, and it would be na´ve and presumptuous to expect
that the inputs of our professional community will be specially privileged.
Nonetheless, these consultations, in whatever forms they occur, must take the
psychological, social, institutional, and national consequences of changes into
account. And in these areas of intellectual discourse, we are plying our trade.
In the following essay, I will try to articulate the
considerations that I judge important to make in designing a harmonious,
multicultural society. I will "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" by
specifying and defending the end-state towards which I am hoping nations
move and the procedures for attaining that end-state, but "render unto God
what is God's" by daring to specify and defend that end state in the first place.
A Humane Harmony
So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole
What is my vision of an ideal state, particularly now, as
our planet approaches the millennium? Other social scientists have
undertaken the daunting task of answering this question (e.g., Naroll, 1983),
and I claim no authority in the validity of my assertions beyond the fact that I
have reached these conclusions in good faith and offer them up for
I would begin with the medical dictum, "Primum, non
nocere". For present purposes, that injunction implies that an ideal state is
one where any activity destructive to human life is minimized. At the
individual level, injurious behaviors, ranging from taking hard drugs to
committing suicide are minimized; life expectancy is at a maximum. At the
group level, norms are shared ensuring that individual inputs to group life will
be encouraged and attended to, even if not adopted; that process of adoption
will not entail the exclusion of deviates. At the inter-group level, identifiable
groups with different ideologies and agendas will be accommodated within
the limits set by the laws necessary to preserve the fabric of society;
systematic denial of access to resources will not be mandated or tolerated,
nor will any form of genocide be practiced or racism be institutionalized. At
the societal level, institutions such as the military and mechanisms such as
international treaties and economic controls are in place and maintained, so
as to prevent the annexing of one nation by others.
My basic concern is that society not embed the
individual within a dangerous social niche where individual energies are fully
deployed in preventing one's destruction and in merely surviving. One can
readily think of contemporary societies where a citizen's patrimony entails
precisely such a consuming preoccupation. It is in this spirit that I would
subscribe to the Russian adage that, "A bad peace is better than a good
But my vision for the ideal state has an obverse, i.e., a
society which fosters and promotes distinctive, individual development while
maintaining its own integrity and nurturing the conditions for social synergy.
This broad mandate is best encapsulated in the concept of harmony. An
essential component of any viable harmony is the integrity and
distinctiveness of the constituent elements that compose the complex unit of
which they are a part. Unification does not require homogenization or
uniformity. Just as effective cooking preserves the distinctive flavors,
textures, colors, and aromas of the ingredients used, so, too, the society I
envision must remain responsive to the concerns, the needs, and the
aspirations of its individual members, families, groups, and institutions.
I do not believe that such harmony presupposes or
requires sameness in the citizens of a society:
Where harmony is fecund, sameness is barren. Things
accommodating each other on equal terms is called blending in harmony, and in
so doing they are able to flourish and grow, and other things are drawn to
them. But when same is added to same, once it is used up, there is no more . . .
There is no music in a single note, no decoration in a single item, no relish in
a single taste. (Discourses of the States, China, 4th Century
We are each uniquely endowed, genetically and by
socialization. We later distinguish ourselves further from one another by the
acquisition of character and skills and knowledge. Society must then be
ordered in such a way as to protect and utilize those differences to benefit
both its members and itself. In order to attain such a harmony-engendering
state of affairs, the resulting differences among citizens must be believed to
arise from this fundamental logic surrounding individual abilities and
An ideal unity in a state is all about equal life chances, about
standardizing the life course to the point where people, despite their
inescapable genetic and historical differences, perceive themselves as
mastering the social order to the extent that resulting differences can be
explained by individual choices or chance rather than attributed to external,
social-structural causes. (Borneman, 1993, p. 315)
Each person will then be released to find her or his place
within the ambient social order. A natural unity will thereby be fostered.
"Indeed, it is precisely an inhering diversity that distinguishes unity from
homogeneity or uniformity." (Baha'I International Community, 1995, p.4) If
this ordering is successfully achieved, I believe that unimagined human and
social benefits will follow. For me, this vision of natural harmony and its
shimmering promise is graphically illustrated in Escher's inspiring print,
Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in,
and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements.
Almost all contemporary nations are de facto
multicultural. Indeed, this was probably the state of affairs historically for
many countries, as well. Economic, political, educational and cultural
migration, both in the past and in the present, combined with arbitrary,
geographical border-drawing have made them so. However, the size, frequency,
and visibility of contemporary migrant movements make the problems
multiculturalism poses for host countries especially acute now (Weiner,
A concomitant development is the widespread interest
in, and commitment to, multiculturalism. As defined by Fowers and Richardson
(1996), "Multiculturalism is a social-intellectual movement that promotes
the value of diversity as a core principle and insists that all cultural groups
be treated with respect and as equals." (p. 609). These authors maintain that
multiculturalism is, ". . . at its core, a moral movement that is intended to
enhance the dignity, rights, and recognized worth of marginalized groups." (p.
609) As such, they locate the movement squarely within "the moral and
political traditions or Euro-American civilization." (p. 611)
Clearly the proponents of multiculturalism are
motivated by a liberal idealism that extends ideas "of individual uniqueness to
cultural groups". (p. 612) This idealism is fueled by an empathetic response to
the suffering of certain groups, an empathy that is sustained by a worldview
espousing the ideology that, "Within the four seas, all men are brothers."
(Confucius, The Analects)
There is no question in my mind that many groups,
culturally and otherwise distinct, have been savagely mistreated. The
Algerian and Rwandan and Cambodian and Serbian situations come most
recently to mind. The heart shivers before such atrocities. As Berger (1969)
put it, "There are certain deeds that cry out to heaven. And it is this
monstrosity that seems to compel even people normally or professionally
given to such perspectives to suspend relativizations." (p. 85) These acts
would be rejected almost universally, and hardly require a Euro-American
cultural legacy to do so; I do not believe that one must subscribe to Euro-
American values to be a multiculturalist.
The cultural issue for multiculturalism is where a
society positions itself on the universal value dimensions of conformity vs.
self-direction and hierarchy vs. egalitarianism (Schwartz, 1992, 1994). These
outcomes are very much culturally shaped. Pressures for complete conformity
will homogenize differences or led to elimination of those who champion
those differences; excessive self-direction undercuts the sociality necessary
for a society to remain viable. The achievement of complete egalitarianism
will eliminate group differences with respect to power, but run counter to
equity in resource distribution; rigid hierarchical structuring of society
results in manifest injustices and cannot survive in a democratizing world.
Outside of these extremes, it seems to me that a
harmonious multicultural society may be developed. But, what kind of
harmony? "God", Mozart is alleged to have asserted, "lives in the details." So, I
next look at the key orientations and strategy issues whose addressing will
play a key role in determining the viability of a society's solution to the
Orientations and Strategies
It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding
to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action.
I will approach this task as a social psychologist. This
avenue gives me a narrow focus on the individual but, as we shall soon
realize, must by necessity come to include the broad canvas of that
individual's social world. The individual actor is the repository of the
orientations I will discuss and the enactor of the strategies I will propose.
However, "No man is an island, entire unto itself." to quote Donne. So, the
ambient norms, traditions, and laws of the families, groups, organizations,
and nation where that individual functions will potentate, sustain, and
channel those orientations.
Regard ye not one another as strangers;
Ye are the fruits of one tree and the leaves of one branch.
By orientations, I am referring to individual dispositions
found in attitudes, stereotypes, emotions, beliefs, values, and features of
personality. Certain of these orientations conduce towards the harmonious,
multicultural society I described earlier; others counteract such a
One concern in making this selection is the problem of a
criterion: our goal is to predict those interpersonal behaviors that unite or
divide persons and groups. Psychologists have generally been more adept at
designing self-report measures of harmonizing or divisive orientations than
they have been at validating them against the actual behaviors of interest. I
will thus exercise my own judgment in selecting for discussion those few
orientations, like Altemeyer's (1981) Right Wing Authoritarianism, that have
been validated against such outcomes and those, like Leung & Bond's (1998)
belief syndrome of Social Cynicism, that hold such promise.
Divisive orientations. Any orientation that
supports separation from and avoidance or isolation and suppression of others
because of their ethnicity, national origin, language, color, or disability is
divisive. So, attitude complexes like ethnocentrism (Brewer & Campbell,
1976), most defensibly measured by Altemeyer's (1981) scale of Right Wing
Authoritarianism, create such barriers (see e.g., Peterson, Doty, & Winter,
1993). So, too, does nationalism, as opposed to patriotism (Feshback, 1987).
Social Dominance Orientation (Sidanius, 1993) is an
attitude syndrome that legitimizes the ranking of groups within a society and
predicts higher degrees of ethnic prejudice in the national ethnic hierarchy in
the United States (Pratto, Sidanius, Stallworth, & Malle, 1994) and in a
number of cultures (Pratto, Liu, Levin, Sidanius, Shih, & Bachrach, 1996). SDO
is also strongly correlated with nationalism across a number of American
samples (Pratto et al., 1994).
Also divisive are stereotypes, packages of beliefs about
out-groups and their members which characterize their personality as
malevolent, especially where such negative evaluations are not counter-
balanced by positive assessments on other dimensions, such as competence
(see Gudykunst & Bond, 1997, pp. 129-131 for elaboration). Beliefs about the
values held by members of other groups are also predictive of negative out-
group sentiment (Schwartz, Struch, & Bilsky, 1990). Low presumed
endorsement of Schwartz's (1992) value domains of universalism and
benevolence seem especially important in this respect (Bond & Mak, 1996). In
fact, stereotypes about out-group member values seem relatively more
powerful than stereotypes about character in predicting negative prejudice
(Esses, Haddock, & Zanna, 1993). This prejudice, though, is more likely to be
translated into discriminatory actions by those high in Right Wing
Authoritarianism (Haddock, Zanna, & Esses, 1993).
Specific stereotypic beliefs about particular out-groups
may be decisive in generating prejudice towards them and their members.
Beliefs that certain other groups are antagonistic to our group's way of life
(the "symbolic beliefs" of Esses et al., 1993) are strong predictors of
prejudice. So, too, I expect are beliefs about historical episodes of unjust
behavior by certain groups towards one's own group. These beliefs form
important components of what Staub (1988) has identified as "ideologies of
antagonism". These beliefs color attributions about current behavior which
then justify counterattack at the group level, just as they do at the
interpersonal level (Felson, 1978). Such beliefs are unlikely to arise out of
personal experience, but instead be transmitted through group lore, media
portrayals, educational curriculum, and other indirect means.
Emotions become associated with various out-groups as
a result of historical alliances and hostilities, portrayals in educational
curriculum and the media, relative economic status, and personal experiences
interacting with their members. When these emotions are negative, e.g., envy,
fear, anger, they predict negative prejudice (Dijker, 1987) over and above that
predicted by stereotypic cognitions about the group (Stephan, Ageyev, Coates-
Shrider, Stephan, & Abalkina, 1994). Fear, in particular, may drive the belief
that out-groups are hostile towards one's own group, thereby promoting
anticipatory aggression (Stephan & Stephan, 1985).
Beliefs are personal understandings about how the
social, material, and spiritual worlds operate. For example, those who
subscribe to a just world belief maintain that rewards are fairly distributed
in this world. One consequence of such a general belief is that one assumes
that those with unfortunate outcomes deserve what they receive (Lerner,
1980). Such a belief structure can readily function to support the status quo
of a society's economic and political hierarchy or caste system (Staub, 1989).
Similarly, Altemeyer (1988) asserts that a belief in humankind's genetic pre-
disposition to violence promotes out-group hostility, since people so
predisposed will be inclined to construe the intentions and actions of out-
groups and their members as hostile (see also Seville Statement on Violence,
Leung & Bond (1998) have collected a wealth of such
beliefs operative in Chinese culture through interviews and surveys of
literature, proverbs, and media reports. They combined these with those found
in the psychological literature (e.g., Lerner's just world belief scale) and
administered them to a representative sample of Hong Kong persons. They
grouped these beliefs into five dimensions through factor analysis. One of
these groupings, Reward for Application, bears a striking resemblance to the
just world ideology mentioned above. Another, Social Cynicism, refers to
beliefs that the powerful exploit the weak and that kindheartedness is
socially ineffective. Both of these belief complexes appear to support social
hierarchy and the status quo. So, it is probable that these belief syndromes
will be shown to legitimize group-based differences in access to material and
A person's values are yet another type of personal
orientation that has been linked to prejudicial reactions towards members of
other groups. Feather (1980) found that presumed overall value similarity
between one's own group and another was associated with greater willingness
to associate with out-group members. Bond (1988) identified a pan-cultural
value factor from the Chinese Value Survey that contrasted the values of
tolerance, harmony, and non-competitiveness against respect for tradition and
a sense of cultural superiority. Average individual scores on this dimension of
Social Integration versus Cultural Inwardness varied across cultural groups
and probably relate to stronger endorsements of prejudice and in-group
favoritism. Stronger identifications with one's collective are linked to
nationalism and in-group defensive reactions to criticism (Kowalski & Wolfe,
1994). This result seems consistent with findings that people who are
strongly identified with their social group respond to threats to their group
identity by derogating the out-group (e.g., Branscombe and Wann, 1994).
Finally, basic personality appears to be related to
prejudice. If one accepts the Big Five as the fundamental dimensions of
personality variation (Digman, 1990), then evidence shows that a person's
endorsement of Openness to Experience is negatively and strongly linked to
measures of prejudice in particular, and political conservativism in general
(Trapnell, 1994). Interestingly, the facet of Openness most strongly linked to
the measure of prejudice used, Right Wing Authoritarianism, was Openness to
Personality considered at such a broad level as that of
the Big Five may subsume some of the orientations mentioned above. So, the
Big Five are related to the endorsement of certain value domains (e.g., Luk &
Bond, 1993), although not apparently to the general belief complexes tapped
by Leung & Bond (1998) in Hong Kong. As of yet, little work has been done by
social psychologists to relate stereotyping of out-groups to personality
dispositions. Integrative work of this sort would be most welcome, as
prejudicial reactions may derive from common sources, variously labeled as
attitudes, values, or beliefs.
One encouraging attempt at integration comes from
Hagan, Ripple, Boehnke, & Merkens (1998). They argue that right-wing
extremism arises from "near-term, group-linked interests of individuals in
their own well-being, ascendancy or domination." (abstract). Focusing on the
competitive logic of market-driven forces, they identify a constellation of
four, social-psychological factors -- social comparison, individualism,
preoccupation with material success, and the acceptance of social inequality.
"These dimensions coalesce into a higher order, latent subterranean construct
we call hierarchic self-interest." (abstract). These various personal
orientations fuse in predisposed individuals to "accentuate, exaggerate, and
dangerously distort the fundamental tenet of stratified market societies." (p.
Hagan et al. (1998) show that hierarchic self-interest
predicts the endorsement of extremist attitudes towards outsiders in both
the former East and West Germanies, accounting for higher extremism in both
males compared to females and in the former East Germany compared to the
former West Germany. The value of this exemplary study lies in its
integration of themes relating broadly to personality and driving the
resurgence of political extremism.
Another integration uses the concept of threat, arguing that prejudice against
other groups develops out of perceptions that these groups and their members
pose a danger to oneself and one's group. "Integrated threat theory" (Stephan,
Ybarra, and Bachman, 1998; Stephan, Ybarra, Martinez, Schwartzwald, and Tur-
Kaspa, in press) identifies threat as arising from "symbolic threats based on
value differences between groups, realistic threats to the power, resources
and well-being of the in-group, anxiety concerning social interaction with
outgroup members, and feelings of threat arising from negative stereotypes of
the outgroup." (Stephan et al., in press, p. 2) These four types of threat are
conceptually distinct and empirically separate predictors of prejudice
(Stephan et al., 1998). These authors believe that, "The degree to which
different threats are salient and therefore likely to be related to prejudice
depends on such variables as the prior history of the relations between the
groups, the relative status of the groups, the strength of identification with
the in-group, and the amount and type of contact between the groups." (p. 15)
The process is complex, but its common focus on perceived threat synthesizes
a considerable amount of literature and suggests strategies for intervention,
to be discussed below.
Harmonizing orientations. One could argue that
harmonizing orientations are simply the bipolar opposite of divisive
orientations. Berry & Kalin (1995) focus on the construct of tolerance which
they take to be the opposite of ethnocentrism. Likewise, Staub (1989) argues
throughout his book, The roots of evil, that altruism counteracts the
aggression that can be channeled towards out-groups and their members. An
embracing universalism towards all others may well do so. However, social
group boundaries are important qualifiers for many social behaviors,
especially in more collective cultures (Triandis, 1995), so a person's high
level of in-group altruism may not extend to outsiders. Unfortunately, no
measure of altruism specifically assesses one's humanity towards all
varieties of different others, so that we cannot yet test the relationship
between altruism and prejudice. Similarly, the behaviors or strategies
required to bring about harmony among groups may not simply be the opposite
of those that foment disunity. At this stage, then, it makes sense to separate
these two orientations. Hopefully, researchers will examine the empirical
linkages among this congeries of divisive and harmonious orientations in
order to clarify their relationships.
Much less work has been invested in exploring this
positive side of the inter-group coin. The best known is that of Berry and his
various colleagues in Canada on attitudes related to multiculturalism. One set
of studies examined the attitude of ethnic tolerance, defined as, "one's
willingness to accept individuals or groups that are culturally or racially
different from oneself." (Berry & Kalin, 1995, p. 306) Following a
comprehensive survey of the various ethnic groups in the Canadian mosaic,
Berry & Kalin (1995) concluded that, "Tolerant individuals show little
differential preference for various groups. Intolerant individuals on the other
hand show relatively great positive preference for those groups that are
generally preferred by the population, and great negative preference for
groups least preferred." (p. 315) Individual tolerance flattens out the ethnic
hierarchy; lack of tolerance sharpens it.
Another set of attitudes targets multiculturalism itself
and is involved in Berry's (1990) two-dimensional typology of orientations
towards ethnic acculturation. He distinguished attitudes towards the
maintenance of own ethnic traditions from attitudes towards inter-ethnic
contact. The former sustain the sense of ethnic security required to maintain
the ethnic mosaic; the latter support movement across group lines, creating
the potential for positive inter-group relations. These attitude complexes
have been instrumented and measured in immigrants, confirming hypothesized
relations to their adaptation outcomes (Berry, Kim, Power, Young, & Bujaki,
What is needed is to extend these measurements to the
host groups in a given society (Bourhis, Moise, Perreault, & Senecal, 1997).
This needed extension will enable researchers to explore the attitudes and
behaviors of the key groups toward members of other ethnic groups as well as
towards the local norms and national policies surrounding their integration
into the wider social fabric. These state integration policies will interact
with group ideologies surrounding acculturation orientations to yield
harmonious, problematic or divisive outcomes (Bourhis et al., 1997).
Berry & Kalin (1995) explored the reactions of Canadians
to their country's policy of multiculturalism by measuring three aspects of
its implementation: attitudes towards the program, perceived consequences of
multiculturalism, and multicultural ideology. They found that these three
components cohere and together correlate with their measure of
cultural/racial tolerance. So, a disposition towards tolerance probably
supports organizational and governmental policy initiatives aimed at
promoting harmony in diversity.
Another constellation of attitudes that appears
important for within-nation multiculturalism is internationalism or world-
mindedness. Sampson & Smith (1957) were the first to explore this concept,
defining it as, "a frame of reference, or a value orientation favoring a world-
view of the problem of humanity, with mankind, rather than the nationals of a
particular country, as the primary reference group." (p. 105). This orientation
showed a coherent clustering of attitudes on political, economic, social, and
religious questions in their American sample. Similar consistency has
recently been confirmed with Hong Kong Chinese, using a similarly multi-
faceted scale of global culture developed by Walter Stephan (Fong, 1996, see
also Der-Kerabetian, 1992; Kosterman & Feshback, 1989).
Logically, a person espousing internationalism would be less likely to
endorse prejudicial attitudes towards people of any different ethnicity or
race, be they within the country or outside. Sampson & Smith (1957)
confirmed this deduction using an early measure of ethnocentrism.
Internationalism may increase tolerance for other ethnic , racial, and national
groups by weakening the strength of one's in-group identification or by
embedding that in-group identification within a latticework of broader
Little work has been done on emotions and inter-group
harmony, though a suggestive finding from Berry & Kalin (1995) was that
higher levels of tolerance predicted feeling comfortable around members of
various other groups.
It is difficult to link beliefs to tolerance empirically,
because most contemporary "belief" scales, such as Rotter's (1966) I-E scale,
are a pastiche of values and intentions along with assertions about what is
true, i.e., beliefs. Leung & Bond's (1998) study of "pure" beliefs identified
Fatedness as one of five such dimensions. Those high in Fatedness beliefs
assert that outcomes are determined; one may predict but not otherwise
control these outcomes. We expect that people low on Fatedness beliefs would
struggle against the apparent givenness of inter-group divisions and
hierarchy, a givenness that is sometimes justified by genetic or hereditary
Personal values are related to integrative behavioral
orientations. Sagiv & Schwartz (1995) found that readiness for out-group
social contact was connected positively to his value domains of universalism
and self-direction, but negatively to tradition, security, and conformity for
the dominant Jewish group, but to the value domain of achievement for the
subordinate Arab group in Israel. This finding suggests that the motives
regulating out-group contact differ depending on the group's position in the
Few studies have been done relating personality to
integrative orientations across group lines. One suggestive finding comes
from the work on attitudes towards global culture done by Fong (1996). He
found that self-ratings on adjectival personality measures of openness and
assertiveness positively predicted endorsements of this general constellation
of attitudes, including the integrative facets of humanism, global welfare,
and gender equality. Again, the important role of openness to experience found
in the section on divisive orientations is underscored by its reappearance in
People high on concern for others in particular and
empathy in general show lower social dominance orientations, as do those
high on Katz & Hass' (1988) Humanitarian-Egalitarian scale (Pratto et al.,
1994). Lower SDO scores may be taken as a preference for lesser inequality
among social groups, a probable unifying social feature in social groups
There is an absence of integrative approaches to studying harmonizing
orientations. In this regard it would be fascinating to examine the Baha'I
commitment to the oneness of humankind, a cornerstone of that community's
approach towards social relations (Baha'I International Community, 1995).
Research has already shown the people espousing this commitment have a
distinctive value profile (Feather, Volkmer, and McKee, 1992). It is likely that
they would also present a consistent set of beliefs about people and group
life, of emotional responses to persons of difference, of personality
dispositions like altruism (Heller and Mahmoudi, 1992), of group
identifications, and of inter-group attitudes. All these characteristics may
prove to be distinctive but interrelated manifestations of a commitment to
the oneness of humankind.
From personal orientations to social action. All
the above orientations are personality variables; in most research they have
been related to other personality variables, not to observed interpersonal
behavior. Many psychologists are sceptical about our capacity to predict
either divisive or harmonizing behaviors by reference to personality
variations. Brown (1996) points out that personality variation fails to explain
"the widespread uniformity of prejudice in certain societies or
subgroups within societies." (p. 533) He also notes the historical specificity
of prejudice: its intense targeting of particular groups at particular time
periods is not amenable to explanations requiring long-term socialization of
members to become prejudiced. Instead, it appears that other social factors
involving group identities and normative behaviors are more central in
explaining prejudice and subsequent discrimination. The same could be said of
Social psychologists have pointed out that interpersonal
behavior which occurs across cultural lines may be construed by the actors
along a continuum varying from interpersonal to inter-group (Brown & Turner,
1981; Tajfel, 1978). They argue that under a variety of social conditions
behavior will shift from its more variable, personally shaped forms of the
interpersonal mode to more uniform, normatively driven forms of the group
mode. In this group mode, discriminatory behavior, be it divisive or
harmonizing, is probably influenced much more by situational considerations
than by personality orientations( Deutsch, 1994; Snyder and Ickes, 1985). A
group's norms surrounding behavior between individuals of different groups
should be especially decisive in such encounters.
These norms will shift depending on the construction of
the relationship between the groups and the cultural ideology about group
relations surrounding the interacting groups. Where members of these groups
perceive themselves as legitimately competing for the same, fixed resource,
e.g., land, jobs, food, etc., interpersonal conflict across group lines is more
likely and less tractable (see Deutsch, 1994; Tedeschi & Felson, 1994 on
realistic group conflict). This conflict could be exacerbated by feelings of
relative deprivation (see Walker & Pettigrew, 1984), feelings which would
probably be greater in cultures characterized by an egalitarian ideology
Of course, in some cultural settings it may be normative
for members of one group to believe they are not entitled to compete against
other groups either individually or corporately, as doing so may challenge
accepted social hierarchies (see Hofstede, 1980, ch. 3 on power distance or
Sidanius, 1993, on social dominance orientations). In other cultural settings,
a history of violent inter-group hostilities may lead to widespread beliefs
that any conflict will redound to the detriment of all parties. Such a
"minus - sum", as opposed to a "zero-sum", expectation about the
consequences of conflict (Bond, 1987) would stimulate the search for non-
divisive modes of interaction.
Not all struggles are about material resources; respect
and appreciation communicated across group lines are powerful bonding
forces whose withholding or denial can generate intense conflict. Perceived
denigration of a group's language, dialect, customs, religion, art, music, dress
and traditions can fuel intense defensive reactions and counterattack. Again,
these feelings of unjust treatment are likely to be stronger in cultures with
an egalitarian, or individualistic cultural tradition (Hofstede, 1980, ch. 5)
where human rights legislation (Humana, 1986) empowers groups as well as
individuals. In this light social norms promoting diversity and encouraging
contact across group lines become countervailing forces against the drift
towards group ethnocentrism. We need to begin the tasks of understanding the
structure of these social norms (Moghaddam & Studer, 1997) and of using
information about these norms to predict inter-group behaviors in diverse
Social capital as ballast and momentum. What I
am suggesting above is that divisive or harmonizing behaviors across group
lines are socially controlled or potentiated. Even though these behaviors may
involve only two persons, they are inter-group whenever the other may be
categorized as an out-group member through cues of physiognomy, dialect,
language, dress, or whatever. Even if the groups in question are not in
conflict, inter-personal encounters across group lines will become
increasingly construed in group terms as ethnic, religious, linguistic, and
social class membership becomes politicized through democratization.
Inter-group encounters are channeled by each group's
norms informing inter-personal encounters across group lines. These norms
thus become a form of positive or negative social capital. "'Social capital'
refers to features of social organization, such as networks, norms of
reciprocity, and social trust, that facilitate coordination and cooperation for
mutual benefit." (Putnam, 1995, p. 67) "Coleman (1990) defines social capital
as involving the creation of capabilities for action to achieve shared goals
through socially structured relations between individuals in groups." (Hagan,
Merkens, & Boehnke, 1995, p. 1018). Social capital may be nurtured in the
family, schools, work organizations, and voluntary associations by building
and sustaining strong social bonds of interdependence (Portes, 1998; Sampson
& Laub, 1993). As Bourdieu (1986) asserts,
It is in fact impossible to account for the structure and
functioning of the social world unless one re-introduces capital in all its
forms and not solely in the one form recognized by economic theory. (p.
Social capital has been measured in various ways and at different levels of
analysis (individual, province, nation); it is related to such important societal
outcomes as rates of mortality, homicide, burglary, and assault (Wilkinson et
al., in press), school delinquency and right wing extremism among German
youth (Hagan et al., 1995).
By extension, socially structured relations "that
facilitate coordination and cooperation" may involve individuals interacting
across group boundaries, not simply within group boundaries. Social capital in
the inter-group sense would then be constituted by the harmonizing
components of inter-group attitudes, stereotypes, emotions, and beliefs held
by the participants from each of the groups; social liability, by the divisive
components of the same types of orientation. And more. Inter-group social
capital across individuals would be protected or augmented by the social
norms (e.g., of political correctness), the laws (e.g., against racial
discrimination), and the enforcement practices which structure relations
across group lines in the wider society. Or restrained and undercut.
Such an amalgam of inter-group dispositions at the
individual level of the different group members, combined with larger state
policy form the building blocks of a recent theoretical model developed to
explain consensual, problematic, or conflictual outcomes between immigrants
and members of a host community (Bourhis et al., 1997). The logic of such
approaches to understanding inter-personal outcomes is that a host of factors
must be considered. A number of analytic levels are involved -- the individual
(orientations); the group, including the family (norms and attitudes towards
inter-group contact); the organization (goals, inter-group policies and
practices); and the nation-state (laws; multiculturalism policies; group-
targeted resource allocations; international memberships, relations and
One could visualize a set of concentric circles
surrounding the individual from the most proximal to the most distant
influences, combining to shape the individual orientations which then direct
interpersonal behavior across group lines. In this vein, Pratto et al. (1994)
comment on the development of empathy with others, an individual
orientation, by stating that, ". . . concern for others (particularly out-group
members), is not just a fixed individual propensity, but instead seems likely
to be influenced by social structures and policies." (p. 757). In trying to
explicate the socialization of a social dominance orientation in particular,
they assert that,
Social structures and policies that prevent the formation of close
personal relationships and empathy between high and low status persons (e.g.,
economically or legally enforced segregation, language barriers, publishing
biases), would seem to discourage empathy between groups and the formation
of a common identity. (p. 757)
Our task as social scientists is to identify, measure and
understand the orchestration of these forces. The model will be complex. Its
development may be rendered more manageable, however, by conceptualizing
its inputs in terms of inter-group social capital. "For, the structure of the
distribution of the different types of social capital at a given moment in time
represents the immanent structure of the social world, i.e., the set of
constraints, inscribed in the very reality of that world, which govern its
functioning in a durable way, determining the chances of success for
practices." (Bourdieu, 1986, p. 46)
We will use the concept of inter-group social capital to
inform our discussion of strategies.
Let not the means of order be made the cause of confusion
and the instrument for union an occasion of discord.
There has been considerable recent work examining the
impact of group diversity on group functioning (e.g., Earley, 1997; Jackson,
1991; Watson, Kumar, & Michaelson, 1993). Contemporary researchers
typically begin with a review of earlier studies and conclude with Maznevski
& DiStefano (1996) that, "Diverse teams have the potential to create unique
and innovative solutions to problems, but have great difficulty interacting to
integrate their differences . . . " (p. 5). These investigators note that the
traditional paradigm for group process research assumed a narrow range of
participant backgrounds and experiences. New organizational (and indeed
national) contexts necessitate greater attention being deployed towards the
integration of perspectives, so that diverse teams (and nations) can avoid
becoming mired in conflict, and can harmonize their inputs in order to achieve
success. Effective integration of differences will build social capital by the
training of unit members to accommodate difference and by the bonding of
members that arises out of success.
Maznevski & DiStefano (1996) have argued that
successful integration requires three conditions: effective communication,
collaborative conflict resolution, and constructive interaction. Developing
measures for these inter-related constructs, they find that team success may
be predicted by higher levels of these components, and that it is the mastery
of these issues which makes any team effective, be that team diverse or
homogeneous. This outcome may help explain why Watson et al. (1993) found
that their diverse groups eventually out-performed their homogeneous groups
-- part of their experimental procedure involved the experimenters meeting
on a number of occasions with each group to consult about its performance
problems. By forcing the diverse groups to confront their difficulties, it is
probable that Watson et al. helped these groups to enhance the three
components of successful integration identified by Maznevski & DiStefano
This work trumpets a warning for any social unit
striving to make its diversity a resource rather than a liability: success will
be the margin of good planning. A multi-cultural society is a fragile plant of
potential beauty if astutely nurtured. I will propose some of the key issues
that I believe need to be addressed in this planning.
Confronting multi-culturalism openly. I accept
the proposition of Hagan et al. (1995) that hatred towards out-groups is one
kind of subterranean tradition, i.e., a deviant attitude complex whose animus
is not openly expressed in public discourse. Given the right mix of social and
psychological conditions however, virulent disdain of foreigners, immigrants,
and other out-groups will be manifested in right-wing extremism, as Hagan et
al. have demonstrated in Germany.
I propose that it is important to address this
subterranean tradition explicitly and publicly, as a way of mobilizing controls
around the animus. Such open discussion will be stimulated by the
institutionalization of multiculturalism policies in nations, organizations and
groups. So, for example, in Canada there has been considerable debate about
the merits of the country's 1988 "Act for the Preservation and Enhancement of
Multiculturalism in Canada". Heated exchange has centered around the
economic value of Canada's immigration practices against the backdrop of its
high unemployment, for example.
Recently, Berry (nd) has summarized the issues arising
from the debate in Canada concerning the social-psychological costs and
benefits of having a policy of multiculturalism. He identified some of these
benefits as: morale and self-esteem for members of all groups, arising from
the knowledge that one's ethno-cultural traditions are being considered; a
sense of security arising from the knowledge that a primary prevention
program is in place and enforced; a sense of collective esteem derived from
being the citizen of a country which vigorously promotes human rights
internationally; and the increased biculturalism or multiculturalism of many
individuals within Canada.
Berry's (nd) assessment of the benefits is important but
less important than the fact that they are being openly considered. The public
airing and consideration of benefits in this and other forums is particularly
important, because they are rarely included in underground discourse about
out-groups. The expression of these countervailing points of view balances
the debate, generating greater support for out-groups than would be possible
otherwise. This support arises because the issue of race and ethnicity has
been openly discussed after being made institutionally explicit through
leaders' speaking out or legislation's being enacted. For this reason, I believe
it is important for multiculturalism to become part of our public
Facilitating contacts across group lines. Berry
and his co-workers have found that tolerance was associated with geographic
mobility within Canada (Kalin & Berry, 1980) and degree of ethnic mixing in a
given area of Canada (Kalin & Berry, 1982). One way to explain these results is
to assume that inter-group social capital increases as a result of non-hostile
contact and exchanges across group lines. Recent work on this "contact
hypothesis", however, makes it clear that only certain types of such contacts
promote positive relations (Pettigrew, 1998). Hewstone & Brown (1986)
concluded that the groups must be positively interdependent and enjoy "equal
status" cooperation. Stephan et al., (1998) have summarized the conditions as
optimal, "When prior relations between groups have been amicable, the groups
are relatively equal in status, the members do not strongly identify with the
in-group, and contact has been extensive, voluntary, positive, individualized,
and cooperative." (p. 15) These considerations may be used to frame the
structuring of super-ordinate goals, considered next.
Creating super-ordinate goals. Social
polarizations may be transcended through groups' and their members' uniting
successfully around a common purpose or goal (Sherif, 1966). This might
involve local tasks such as constructing community facilities. Community
service projects, especially if involving younger students from various ethnic
groups serving members of various other ethnic groups, may be especially
effective in building trust and good-will across group lines (see James,
1910/1970; Holland & Andre, 1989; Staub, 1989, ch. 18). National tasks, such
as protecting the shared environment or indeed, fighting off an invader, will
accomplish the same unification. Social capital will then develop out of the
experience of working together and subsequently out of shared pride in the
ongoing benefit from the actual accomplishments themselves.
Ethnic diversity may be a particular resource here if
each group has a distinctive contribution to make (Brown & Wade, 1987). This
will be the case, for example, if increased tourism is being promoted as a
national goal, and ethnic groups can exploit their cultural legacy to develop
tourist attractions. Internal tourism increases contacts across group lines;
external tourism brings into the country wealth that diffuses across the
constituent ethnic groups. Taxation and re-distribution policies must ensure,
however, that such diffusion occurs and is perceived by citizens to diffuse to
the benefit of all.
Implementing integrative language policies.
Cooperative activities of any sort are facilitated by having a common script
and spoken language available for joint use. Where ethnic communities have
different linguistic heritages, government educational policy must promote
the acquisition of a common language by all citizens. Given the centrality of
one's "mother tongue" to one's self-concept (Fishman, 1972), some care must
be taken to avoid such policies themselves becoming a source of contention
among ethnic communities. Promoting mutual bilingualism in the constituent
languages of the country, as in Canada, or mastery of heritage languages plus
a common language, as in Singapore, may be workable options to consider.
Promoting cross-cutting social ties. The
potential divisiveness of group memberships may be moderated in two ways:
first, a super-ordinate identity may be made salient, uniting members of
oppositional groups under a common identity (Gaertner et al., 1993). This is
the re-categorization strategy adopted by political figures who appeal to the
common citizenship of the people in a country. Nationalistic or patriotic
rallying calls invoke this same dynamic.
Second, non-ethnic associations may be encouraged when
these associations have non-ethnic membership criteria and can draw their
members from various ethnic communities, e.g., professional societies, local
parent-teacher groups, work organizations, labor unions, etc.) Putnam (1995)
has discussed the ways in which voluntary group memberships enhance social
capital, and many researchers have operationalized their measure of social
capital by indexing the extent of membership in such associations (see
Putnam for examples). A given person may then have a number of competing
loyalties whose balancing demands make any polarizing claims along ethnic
lines harder to sustain (see Brown and Turner, 1979, on criss-cross
categorization or Dorai, 1993, on cross-cutting social ties). Associations
which mix ethnic groups thereby increase the social opportunities for building
inter-group social capital.
Avoiding extremes of wealth and poverty.
Wilkinson (1996) has documented the extensive evidence connecting relative
economic inequality in nations and states within nations to a host of
undesirable outcomes ranging from decreased longevity and poorer health to
lower educational performance, higher accident rates, and increased crime.
Hofstede (1980, ch. 3) had earlier shown a connection between inequality and
the level of domestic political violence. Many of these effects, as in the case
of homicide (see e.g., Wilkinson et al., in press), persist even if the effects of
average national or state wealth is held constant. Wilkinson et al. explain
these socially undesirable outcomes as arising through a deterioration in the
quality of social bonds, producing psychosocial stress for all, particularly
those of lower status.
We know that norms of distributive justice vary across
cultures, especially in the strictness with which equity principles are applied
(Morris & Leung, 1996). Pratto, Tatar, & Conway-Lanz (1996) have found that
those higher in SDO favored equity-based over need-based allocation of
resources. This finding suggests that social and personal ideologies
surrounding the distribution of resources may have to change in high-SDO
cultures if greater egalitarianism across groups in society is to be promoted
and greater economic democracy (Korten, 1993) achieved. In such societies, a
sustained re-orientation of value priorities will be required to support the
lowered emphasis on material wealth and power which undergird a strict
equity focus ( Korten, 1993; Schwartz, 1994).
Often economic class divisions are confounded with
ethnicity or racial differences. These divisions may have arisen historically
through specialization by various groups in particular forms of subsistence
activity, through immigrant status, or through systematic discrimination and
denial of educational resources. Stereotypes will then coalesce around
ethnic/racial group membership to legitimize these economic differences
(Augoustinos & Walker, 1995). Economic cleavages across group lines seem
particularly galling and incendiary, since it then becomes easier to attribute
one's low status to discrimination. Where these differences become
sufficiently wide, ethnic/racial group membership can then be used to fuel
and rally political and social agitation against the group status hierarchy.
Where a smaller ethnic group becomes notably wealthier, it often becomes the
target of hostility from larger ethnic groups, especially when economic
downturns occur (Staub, 1989, ch. 8; Mackie, 1976).
Societies which are more egalitarian are not only healthier, but . .
. are also more socially cohesive than others . . . With reduced income
inequality, people are connected in public life through a variety of social
organizations, purposes and activities. Some sense of the moral collectivity
and of social purpose remains important. (Wilkinson, 1996, p.
Such societies have earned high levels of social capital. To achieve and expand
this social capital, Wilkinson (1996) argues that,
Policies on education, employment, industrial structure, taxation,
the management of the business cycle, must all be assessed in terms of their
impact on social justice and social divisions. Economic management must
have the explicit aim of increasing social cohesion and the social quality of
life. (p. 223)
Special attention to such policy initiatives should be made in societies where
economic inequalities parallel ethnic/racial/caste differences.
Enhancing perceptions of procedural justice.
Thibaut & Walker (1975) have demonstrated at the individual level that a
person's reactions to an allocation decision are determined not only by the
outcome received but also by the process which resulted in that outcome.
Procedural justice focuses on the processes by which material and other
resources are distributed in a social group (Lind & Tyler, 1988). A wide
number of decision-making strategies, such as negotiation, third-party
intervention, arbitration, and withdrawal, have been explored. Their use is
determined in large part by the extent to which they are perceived to be fair
to the participant.
The degree of fairness associated with a given strategy
is jointly determined by properties of the decision-making process
(procedural justice) and the quality of treatment received from the persons
carrying out the procedures, i.e., interactional justice (Tyler & Bies, 1990).
Procedural considerations are: the perceived control over the dispute process
an approach gives the participant, and the capacity of the approach to reduce
animosity between the disputants.
A key feature of process control is the opportunity to
express one's point of view (Folger, 1977). This granting of voice is often
undertaken with some ambivalence, since it opens the Pandora's box of
possible disharmony and animosity in exchange for the process control it
confers upon the aggrieved party. Recently in America, for example, there has
been considerable controversy arising from public debate in the media and in
the courts. This debate centers around whether certain ethnic group practices,
such as female clitorectomy, may continue to be performed even though they
are at variance with mainstream American customs and even law (Shweder,
Markus, Minow, & Kessel, 1997). Most multicultural societies will face such
potential for conflict in accepted practices; the American model of
multiculturalism grants voice to the ethnic groups involved. It appears to be a
judgment call whether the increase in fairness judgments resulting from such
conferment compensates for the struggle and possible social polarization
Considerations about interactional justice include
participants' assessments of decision-makers as neutral, respectful, and
benevolent. These assessments have been shown to exercise a stronger impact
on fairness judgments than perceived process control, and indeed were even
more important than outcome favorability (Lind, 1994). This relative
emphasis on interactional fairness relative to outcomes is even more
important to those in societies characterized by lower power distance (Tyler,
Lind, & Huo, 1997).
Interactional unfairness seems to be particularly
incendiary when it communicates disrespect towards the other. Tedeshi &
Felson (1994) have integrated a body of literature to argue that violence
follows the perception of unjustified attack, in particular, insults from the
other (see also Wilkinson et al., in press). This conclusion underscores the
importance of decision-makers' interpersonal behavior when processing
disputes between parties, so as to neutralize the potential for anger arising
out of applying the procedures for conflict resolution themselves.
Procedural concerns thus seem to be fundamental to
judgments of fairness. Lind & Tyler (1988) explain this power conferred by
procedures using the group value model. It "is based on the notion that people
are concerned about their standing in a group and infer their status from the
treatment they receive from the group (or its representatives) in the
procedures used to allocate social benefits and burdens." (Leung & Morris,
1996, p. 39, brackets added) Unjust procedures belittle participants; it is this
social communication and status outcome that seems so basic to the
responses made by participants in allocation situations. This conclusion
harkens back to Wilkinson et al.'s (in press) explanation of how relative
inequality leads to violence through the agency of felt disrespect.
Importantly, procedural considerations show no evidence
of cultural variability. In their literature review, Leung & Morris (1996) draw
two conclusions: "First, the available evidence suggests that the content of
procedural and interactional justice is largely similar across cultures . . .
Second, the consequences of perceived procedural and interactional justice
also seem to be similar across cultures." (pp. 40 - 41) What appears to vary
culturally is the restraint of anger in the face of injustice. Higher power
distance at the societal level (Gudykunst & Ting-Toomey, 1988) is associated
with a muting of anger in response to perceived injustice. This finding is
understandable in light of recent work on the appraisal theory of emotions
(Ellsworth, 1994): anger arises when situations are construed as controllable.
In hierarchical societies, many interpersonal exchanges which lead to
perceptions of interactional unfairness involve superiors and are hence less
controllable by the subordinates (see e.g., Bond, Wan, Leung, & Giacalone,
So, the way that decision-making procedures are
assessed for their fairness is culturally invariant; the expression of anger in
response to that perceived unfairness is not. Again, it may be a social
judgment call whether a group places a premium on the social debate that may
arise where process control is promoted or on the apparent social order that
appears in more hierarchical organizations.
Of course all this research has been focused on the
individual within a mono-cultural social encounter. An important question is
how the key outcomes of perceived fairness and of expressed anger will vary
when the encounter shifts towards the inter-group end of the spectrum.
Recently, Huo, Smith, Tyler, & Lind (1996) have examined the processing of
interpersonal conflicts between bosses and workers across ethnic lines in
American organizations. They found that weak identification with the
organization was associated with a worker emphasis on dispute outcome
rather than with procedural concerns. Given that limited resources are
available to distribute in any group, inter-group relations will easier to
manage by improving procedural (and interpersonal) considerations. What must
be done is to enhance super-ordinate identification, so that disputants' focus
of concern shifts away from the less tractable outcome issues. Fortunately,
as Huo et al. demonstrated, this super-ordinate identification need not occur
at the expense of identification with the participant's own ethnic group (see
also Berry's 1990 work discussed above).
Of course, we must appreciate that this research did not
involve groups in a state of current or recent hostility. It also occurred in an
organizational context where participants have a basic level of commitment
to the system. And finally, it was run in a nation that has a backdrop of
legal/constitutional protections for minority groups. There is, in short,
opportunity for voice throughout the whole social system, releasing minority
group members from avoiding conflict by withdrawing. In many societies, the
consequences of giving any voice to discontent may be too frightening to
contemplate until such procedural mechanisms are instituted. Only after these
are in place and are enacted in an interpersonally just way, will a social
system be able to reap the benefits that follow from perceptions of minimal
fairness in treating group interests.
Without such publicly available mechanisms, the social
specter of informal retribution will always be lurking across ethnic lines.
Cultures of honor (e.g., Cohen, 1996; Peristiany, 1965) typically demand
retaliation for injustices inflicted on one's group. These "blood feuds" (e.g.,
Dragoti, 1996) pass across generations, fostering an endless cycle of attack
and counter-attack. Available legal mechanisms and their enforcement are
necessary to break this vicious cycle. A full range of social responses,
including restitution, reconciliation (e.g., Moore, 1993) and other appeasement
forms (Keltner, Young, & Buswell, 1997), needs to be explored, so that this
whole legal process not only satisfies demands for fairness but also restores
(Consedine, 1995) inter-group social capital. This broadening of social
responses should include a close assessment of the destructive costs of
current legal processes in many nations characterized by the ruler of law
Educational provisions. There are many ways a
society may decrease the divisive forces of inter-group disharmony through
its educational provisions (Hollins, 1996). First, it can invest in open access
to education based solely on considerations of pupil competence. Human
resources will be enhanced generally, redounding to the benefit of the
economy and stimulating associated benefits, like improved health care. Also,
the openness of educational training to all citizens will ensure that members
of all ethnic groups in a society will gain access to trades and professions.
Cross-cutting of social ties will thereby be promoted, embedding ethnic group
membership in a wider lattice-work of associations.
Secondly, a part of standard school curriculum should
include a re-orientation of spiritual priorities (Korten, 1993). He believes
that a socialization for community and harmonious living must replace the
contemporary focus on materialism if we are to enjoy a sustainable global
future, ". . . as an act of collective survival, to recreate the political and
economic structures of human society in ways that free our world from the
grip of greed, waste, and exploitation . . . to re-establish the nurturing bonds
of sharing on which human community and life itself depend." (p. 59). This re-
orientation will help reduce the pressure on limited material resources
arising from widespread acquisitive motivation, and move society away from
a status hierarchy based primarily on wealth (see also Hatcher, 1998; and
Schwartz, 1992, for the trade-off between power motivations and values of
One educational requirement that could be deployed
towards "nurturing bonds of sharing" is community service (Holland & Andre,
1987; James, 1910/1970). Engaging students to assist other citizens outside
the school setting would go some way towards achieving greater empathy
from these future leaders of the nation, gratitude from the recipients of their
contributions, and social capital generally. Additionally, work at school could
make greater use of cooperative learning tasks where students interact to
achieve a common goal (e.g., Sharan, Hare, Webb, & Hertz-Lazarowitz, 1980).
Students learn to teach and help one another under these requirements. Both
types of project could be designed to span ethnic/racial boundaries. These
opportunity structures would then help promote ethnic harmony within
societies (Fishbein, 1996).
Another relevant educational module is the training of
students for non-violent forms of conflict resolution (Stevahn, Johnson,
Johnson, & Real, 1996; Zhang, 1994). These skills would help reduce levels of
ethnic disharmony within the school setting itself, but also generalize to
social settings outside school and later in life. Well-ingrained strategies for
conflict resolution are a protection against escalation (Felson, 1978), and a
vital form of social capital.
Additionally, school curricula can be broadened, so that
a variety of skills, social, aesthetic, musical, athletic, and so forth become
nurtured and recognized (Gardner, 1993). Such an opening presupposes a wider
definition of what it is to be fully human, and provides alternative routes and
rewards for self-development. An over-emphasis on the professions ossifies
and narrows the status hierarchy in a society, and materially over-
compensates the survivors of such a focused, competitive scramble. Also, the
content of some of these additions to the curriculum can be used to confront
prejudice directly, e.g., the songs from Time For Healing by the musical
group, Sounds of Blackness.
Third, liberal arts can be encouraged, both as major
fields of study and as elective courses in the curriculum. Altemeyer (1988)
has found that lower levels of Right Wing Authoritarianism characterize
students in the humanities and social sciences, and that this level decreases
over their course of study.
The content of history courses may be particularly
important in promoting multiculturalism; the inflammatory portrayal of
ethnic group interactions in the past can fuel "ideologies of antagonism"
(Staub, 1988) and divisive perceptions of history impacting on social
identities (Liu, Wilson, McClure, & Higgins, 1997). Ethnically balanced
reporting may be an antidote to possible in-group bias in historical
representations in the school curriculum. This balancing of content could also
include a greater emphasis on peace building, as a counterweight to the
emphasis on war that currently dominates most people's perceptions of
history (Liu, in press).
Fourthly, culture as a topic of study should receive much
more attention (e.g., Claydon, Knight, & Rado, 1977; Hoffman, 1996), so as to
moderate students' attitudes towards race and other forms of difference
(Banks, 1995). This exposure could include culture as the primary focus (e.g.,
Ladson-Billings, 1995) and with appropriate techniques (Pusch, 1979) or as a
supplement to other social science or business courses where cultural
considerations are central to the validity of material presented (e.g., Smith &
Bond's 1998 text on social psychology across cultures). By the identification
of culture as a vital and worthy concern, ethnicities are legitimized and
validated. Weight is given to cultural claims and a sense of security imparted
to ethnic groups in the national mosaic.
The International Context
The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.
This essay has been focused on social psychological
recommendations for building harmonious, multicultural societies. The
current context for undertaking these initiatives is dramatically different
than it was, say, at the end of WW2. As expressed by the Baha'I International
Community, "History has thus far recorded principally the experience of
tribes, cultures, classes, and nations. With the physical unification of the
planet in this century and the acknowledgment of the interdependence of all
who live on it, the history of humanity as one people as one people is now
The novel, contemporary dynamic driving this change is
the "porous border" (Rosenau, 1997), viz., the relative ease with which
influences pass across national boundaries placing enormous stress on those
boundaries (Blake, 1998). These influences may be ecological, as with
environmental pollution and resource depletion; financial, as with currency
devaluations and huge, unregulated flows of capital; human, as with legal and
illegal , migrants; informational, as with the uncontrollable input available
over the internet; and ideological, as with the growing pressure for human
rights and clean government. Added to this ferment is the unrelenting
pressure on the eco-sphere by continued population growth (Korten, 1993). The
upshot of these developments is that all people on this fragile planet have
become more interconnected and interdependent; the successful management
of this relatedness has become a matter of our corporate survival. As
Benjamin Franklin aptly put matters, "We must learn to hang together, or
surely we shall all hang separately."
In forging this often-reluctant cooperation, we might
pause to consider whether the same considerations will be needed to achieve
unity at the international level as are needed at the national level. In thinking
through this broader, global issue, the Baha'I International Community has
. . . such rethinking will have to address practical matters of
policy, resource utilization, planning procedures, implementation
methodologies, and organization. As it proceeds, however, fundamental issues
will quickly emerge, related to the long-term goals to be pursued, the social
structures required, the implications for development of principles of justice,
and the nature and role of knowledge in effecting enduring change. (1995, p. 2)
I submit that this daunting agenda is exactly what we have been exploring in
the main body of this essay, and that the possible solutions proposed there
will be applicable inter-nationally. As an important example, the emergence
of global social change organizations (Cooperrider & Pasmore, 1991) is
generating a growing body of social capital that transcends national borders
and targets planetary concerns. This "international" social capital arises in
part out of a belief in the oneness of humankind and adds to the momentum of
this awareness and commitment through its investment in various projects.
This "international" social capital will be augmented by practicing in
relations across nations any of the harmonizing solutions discussed as
applicable within nations. In all these ways, we will be better positioned to
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I wish to express my appreciation to the following colleagues who provided thoughtful feedback on an earlier version of this paper: Steven Burgess, Seena Fazel, James Liu, Walter Stephan, and Harry Triandis.