Thesis ID: CBB001567207

The History and Enactments of Contact in Social Psychology (2010)


Torre, Maria Elena (Author)

New York, City University of
New York, City University of
Fine, Michelle
Hart, Roger
Opotow, Susan
Kidder, Louise
Hart, Roger
Opotow, Susan
Luttrell, Wendy
Kidder, Louise
Luttrell, Wendy

Publication Date: 2010
Edition Details: Advisor: Fine, Michelle; Committee Members: Hart, Roger, Opotow, Susan, Luttrell, Wendy, Kidder, Louise.
Physical Details: 206 pp.
Language: English

The atrocities of World War II and the lingering racial segregation in the United States ignited the field of intergroup relations. With a fierce sense of responsibility and purpose, social psychologists sought to unite theory and action, in order to better understand the potential extremes of intergroup hostility. Much of this research, conducted at the time in the spirit of democracy, was lost to the anti-communist hysteria. The rest was shadowed overtime by the canonization of Gordon Allport's Contact Hypothesis (1954). This dissertation begins with an analysis of the history of the social psychological study of contact. It follows the theoretical legacy established by early contact scholars that prioritized the disruption of dominant ideologies, relational and naturalistic research designs, the connection between research and action, participatory methods, and an engagement (rather than tolerance) of difference. The historical analysis is then joined by a longitudinal study of a real-world enactment of contact in the form of an intergenerational research and performance project called Echoes of Brown that documented the history of segregation and integration in public schools and contemporary educational injustice in the United States. Created as a contact zone (Pratt, 1992) Echoes brought together thirteen radically diverse young people, scholars, community elders, spoken word artists, dancers, and a choreographer in the final phase of a participatory action research project. The findings from Echoes analyzed in the context of the early contact research of Benedict and Weltfish (1943), Williams (1947), Watson (1947), Dubois (1943, 1950), and Dubois and Li (1955), as well as post-colonial (Pratt, 1992) and borderland (Anzaldúa, 1992, 2002) theories, suggests a revision of Allport's optimal conditions of contact: shifting equal group status to an explicit engagement of history, power, and privilege; common goals to shared collectively determined goals; cooperation to participation with negotiated conditions of collaboration; and support of authorities to collectively determined solidarity. They further demonstrate how engaging history, power, and improvisation can foster individual and collective development and the production of knowledge, making the argument that contact should not only be engaged in social psychology as a subject, but as a critical epistemology.


Description Cited in Dissertation Abstracts International-B 71/09, Mar 2011. Proquest Document ID: 746585848.

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Authors & Contributors
Duvall, John
McCoy, Sharon D
Raskin, Victor
Schneider, Ryan
Anderson, Mark
Varel, David Alan
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
New Books Network Podcast
Journal of Negro Education
Lexington Books
Johns Hopkins University Press
New York University
University of Nevada, Reno
Purdue University (Lafayette, Indiana)
Bold Type Books
Science and race
African Americans
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Medicine and race
Boas, Franz
Davis, Allison
Terman, Lewis Madison
Garrison, William L.
Davis, Angela
Jefferson, Thomas
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
20th century, early
21st century
18th century
United States
Chicago (Illinois, U.S.)
New York City (New York, U.S.)
Great Britain
Louisiana (U.S.)
University of Chicago
Lafargue Mental Hygiene Clinic

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