National identification counteracts the sedative effect of positive intergroup contact on ethnic activism

TitreNational identification counteracts the sedative effect of positive intergroup contact on ethnic activism
Type de publicationJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuteursPereira, A, Green, EGT, Visintin, EPaolo
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Mots-clésethnic identification, intergroup contact, minority activism, national identification, Roma

Positive intergroup contact with socially and economically advantaged national majorities has been shown to reduce ethnic identification among minorities, thereby undermining ethnic minority activism. This finding implies that ethnic identity is the relevant social identity driving ethnic minorities’ struggle for equality. We argue that the study of the “sedating” effect of positive intergroup contact for minorities should be more nuanced. The existence of multiple and sometimes interplaying social identities can foster a reinterpretation of the meaning of “ethnic” activism. This study therefore examines how the interplay of ethnic and national identities shapes the sedating effect of contact on minority activism. We expect national identification to buffer the sedated activism resulting from reduced ethnic identification. That is, the mediation from intergroup contact to reduced ethnic activism through weakened ethnic identification is expected to be moderated by national identification. With survey data from Bulgaria, we investigated support for ethnic activism among Bulgarian Roma (N D 320) as a function of their contact with the national majority as well as their degree of ethnic and national identification. The predicted moderated mediation was revealed: a negative indirect relationship between contact and activism through decreased ethnic identification occurred among Roma with low national identification, whereas no sedating effect occurred among Roma identifying strongly as members of the Bulgarian nation. We discuss the meaning of national identification for the Roma minority, who experience harsh discrimination in countries where they have been historically settled, as well as convergence of these findings with work on dual identification. We highlight the role of interacting social identities in mobilizing resources for activism and the importance of adopting a critical view on ethnic discourse when studying activism in both traditional and immigrant minorities.