Spontaneous Contact and Social Resilience Following Eruption of Interethnic Violence in Ethnically Mixed Settings

28.05.2024 - 12:00 to 13:30
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Type of Event : 
AB B-Kolloquium
Dan Miodownik
Lecturer affiliation: 
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Does spontaneous contact between individuals from different ethnonational groups affect their social resilience, i.e., their ability to reestablish equilibrium after incidents of ethnic violence? To address this question, we conducted a series of studies in mixed Jewish-Palestinian cities and academic settings. Study One is based on data collected through large-scale online surveys of residents in mixed and non-mixed cities in Israel (n=944). It reveals that Jewish and Palestinian residents living in mixed cities exhibit higher social resilience than residents of homogeneous cities. This is manifested through their more favorable attitudes toward the outgroup and reduced feelings of tension during and following episodes of intercommunal violence. We suggest that the underlying mechanism that can explain resilience to the disruptive effect of violence is the higher prevalence of spontaneous intergroup contact enabled in mixed settings (compared to more homogeneous settings). This explanation is supported by Study Two, which involved two rounds of surveys filled by Jewish and Palestinian students (n=6467) at a heterogeneous campus in a mixed city in Israel. The findings show that positive attitudes toward the outgroup following incidents of intercommunal violence were more durable among students exposed to spontaneous intergroup contact. We discuss the implications of our findings for deepening our understanding of conflict and conflict management in ethnically mixed and conflicted settings.