Turning the Analytic Gaze on “Us”: The Role of Authorities in the Alienation of Minorities

Leda Blackwood, Nick Hopkins, Steve Reicher

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What leads to the alienation and political (dis)engagement of minority groups is a critical question for political psychologists. Recently, research has focused attention on one particular minority group – Muslims in the West – and on what promotes “anti-Western” attitudes and behavior. Typically, the research focus is on factors internal to the individuals or the minority communities concerned. However, we argue this overlooks the ways in which the perspective and practices of the majority group affect minority group members’ understandings of who they are and how they stand in relation to the majority. In this paper we examine the social-psychological processes through which authorities’ surveillance and intervention affects minority group members’ sense of themselves, their relationship to authorities and the wider community. In doing so, we discuss a number of hitherto neglected psychological processes that may contribute to alienation-namely, processes of misrecognition, disrespect, and humiliation. We draw on research conducted with British Muslims to illustrate our argument for widening our analytic focus to give a more dynamic account of alienation and (dis)engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-252
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Psychologist
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2013


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