International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

2G Critical Perspectives on Contact Aimed at Improving Intergroup Relations

(Session Organizer) Ifat Maoz, Hebrew University; (Discussant) Kevin Durrheim, University of KwaZulu-Natal; (Discussant) Linda R Tropp, University of Massachusetts Amhers

Conference: ISPP 2011
Affiliation: Hebrew University
Research Area: Intergroup relations

In the past few decades, planned contact interventions between groups in conflict have played an important role in attempts to improve intergroup relations and achieve peace and reconciliation.  This panel focuses on such reconciliation-aimed intergroup encounters between Israeli Jews and Palestinians that seek to reduce hostility and increase understanding and cooperation between the two nationalities.  Like other contact interventions conducted in settings of intergroup conflict, encounters between Israeli Jews and Palestinians represent a paradoxical project that aims to produce equality and cooperation between groups embedded in a reality of conflict and asymmetry. Although existing research offers valuable lessons on the efficacy of contact interventions conducted under optimal conditions (Pettigrew and Tropp, 2006), little is known about the efficacy of such interventions between groups involved in an acute, asymmetrical dispute.
The perspective presented in this panel is inspired by a recent school of thought that looks at processes and effects of contact under the non-optimal conditions that exist in deeply divided societies (Dixon, Durrheim, & Tredoux, 2005; 2007; Riecher, 1986). It also joins a growing number of studies presenting a critical approach to planned encounters between Israeli Jews and Palestinians (Halabi & Sonnenchein, 2004; Suileman, 2004). Building on these research traditions, the goal of the papers included in this panel is to critically examine reconciliation-aimed contact interventions between Israeli Jews and Palestinians and to uncover processes, dilemmas and issues that characterize planned contact in situations of asymmetrical conflict and that affect the ability of such contact interventions to actually improve intergroup relations.