Living apart, living together? The role of intergroup contact in social integration

by Miles Hewstone

Working Papers WP 09-12
August 2009

ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

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This paper outlines the central role of intergroup contact in promoting successful social integration between members of different groups. The paper deals with six main issues: (1) the main types of intergroup contact, and whether they are effective; (2) under what conditions intergroup contact is most effective; (3) by what processes intergroup contact works; (4) the extensive effects of intergroup contact beyond changes in explicit attitudes towards outgroups; (5) the major policy implications of intergroup contact; and (6) criticisms of intergroup contact, and rejoinders to them. Finally, progress is summarized in the form of a new theoretical model, and conclusions are drawn about the centrality of ‘meaningful contact’ for improving intergroup relations.

Miles Hewstone FBA is Professor of Social Psychology and Fellow of New College, Oxford University. His main research topic is intergroup relations and the reduction of intergroup conflict, especially via intergroup contact, and he has edited or authored many books, including Psychology (Blackwell, 2006). He was the recipient of the Kurt Lewin Award, for Distinguished Research Achievement, from the European Association for Experimental Social Psychology in 2005.