Report on EASP Meeting: Boundaries, Norms, and Conflicts: Understanding Intergroup Relations and Rising Intolerance Across Europe and Beyond
08.10.2018, by Tina Keil in meeting report
September, 6-8th 2018, Bratislava, Slovakia
Increasing intergroup violence and the emergence of new targets of prejudice all over Europe highlight the importance of the normative context of intergroup relations. Individuals choose extreme actions based on the changing concepts of normativity in public discourse. In this meeting, we wanted to bring together researchers who are interested in the connection between societal norms and both positive and negative intergroup behaviour. Our objective was to demonstrate that intergroup behaviour is dependent on the normative appropriateness of positive or negative intergroup relations between particular groups, and the definition of group boundaries.
The EASP Meeting was organized by Barbara Lášticová (Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava), Anna Kende (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest), Katarzyna Jaśko (Jagiellonian University, Krakow) and Steve Reicher (University of St. Andrews). The meeting took place in Bratislava, a capital that is located near the border of four European countries: Slovakia, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic, and that has witnessed multiple changes of cultural and political boundaries throughout its history.
The 38 participants of the meeting came from institutions based in 19 different countries in Western, Eastern, Northern, and Southern Europe, the US, Turkey, Israel and India, and they were of 18 different nationalities. 22 participants were senior researchers, and 16 were PhD students. 52.63 % of participants were EASP members, and 63.16 % were ISPP members.
Although the topics were highly diverse, the recurring themes of social norms, shifting power relations, identity, intergroups relations and behaviours wove the talks and posters nicely together. The meeting was also diverse in terms of the methods used, ranging from experimental studies and surveys to qualitative interviews and analysis of political discourse. Most notably, the issue of normatively accepted prejudice and discrimination against the Roma appeared as one of the most urging issues in the region that current social psychological research needs to address. Several presentations focused on the situation of Syrian refugees and the normative context of their perceptions in the host societies. Muslims in Western societies were also a social category that was frequently addressed from diverse perspectives.
The opening talk by Steve Reicher focused on the need to reconceptualize key topics and approaches in mainstream social psychology in order to be able to grasp the current pressing societal issues such as rising intolerance across Europe and beyond. The first thematic session focused on the institutional norms of intergroup relations, particularly on the interplay between school norms, peer norms and parental norms, using both longitudinal and experimental research designs. The second thematic session explored the politicized context of intergroup relations, focusing on topics such as politicized identity, empathy and collective action; the effect of political engagement on mental health and protest participation; and construction of ingroup norms and boundaries in political commemorations. The blitz session was dedicated to different perspectives on intergroup norms and boundaries, focusing in particular on nationalism and political extremism. The third thematic session focused on threat, prejudice and right-wing populism, exploring the issues of the relationship between egalitarian and non-egalitarian cultural values and prejudice; collective threat and desire for stricter norms and economic inequality and the rise of far-right populism.
The first session of the day focused on the relationship between social norms and biased group evaluation; threat to personal control and norm following; psychological threat and social projection, as well as resistance to prevailing societal norms and stereotypes such as caste system in India. The blitz session was dedicated to various perspectives of anti-Muslim prejudice; Muslim identity constructions; helping behaviour towards Syrian refugees; media constructions of ethnic minorities, and migration. The afternoon poster session presented diverse topics such as the interplay between collective action and national identity inclusiveness or right-wing extremism; the relationship between blind and constructive patriotism and intergroup hostility within the EU; migration and refugee crisis; interventions to reduce prejudice in schools; intergroup contact and stereotype consistency. The last thematic session focused on minority-majority relations and the role social identity inclusiveness/complexity in overcoming intergroup boundaries in diverse societies such as Serbia and on the role of humour in challenging subtle discrimination of the Roma in Hungary.
In this meeting we brought together high-quality scientific papers focusing on topics with utmost societal relevance that have been on the periphery of mainstream social psychology. The presentations were followed by extensive and inspiring discussions. The future challenge is to create a network of researchers who would explore the avenues for further collaboration. In order to do that we assessed participants’ opinion about the meeting as well as suggestions for setting up a discussion group to enhance networking among researchers with the shared interest in intergroup processes within the changing normative context of Europe and beyond. We thank EASP, ISPP and Slovak National Research and Development Agency APVV for making this meeting happen.
Barbara Lášticová, Anna Kende, Katarzyna Jaśko, & Steve Reicher
Impressions from Participants
Singidunum University, Belgrade, Serbia
The organizers of the small group meeting Boundaries, Norms, and Conflicts: Understanding intergroup relations and rising intolerance across Europe and beyond made us all feel very welcome in Bratislava. The leitmotiv of the meeting was diversity – not only in terms of participants coming from different parts of Europe and the world but also in terms of methodology. I particularly liked the high prevalence of meaningful qualitative research, as much as I enjoyed learning about quite interesting contexts, from India to Greece, Turkey, Hungary and many more. I was very grateful for the opportunity to meet fellow researchers studying all these contexts and to be able to hear their thoughts on my research and the region I am coming from. The message we all took home was the need to rethink how social psychology can move forward to better include different parts of the world. This inspired me to think about how our specific experiences can contribute to charting new lines in the development of theorizing and research. I would like to thank the organizers for this wonderful experience.
International Max Planck Research School on Adapting Behavior in a Fundamentally Uncertain World; Friedrich Schiller University, Jena
This EASP meeting in Bratislava has been one of the most interesting and inspiring meetings I have ever attended during my PhD. The meeting has covered a big range of topics related to intergroup boundaries, norms and social identity. Presenters in the meeting were very diverse in their choice of research methods and often very creative. Many of the presenters conducted studies that, in my opinion, are underrepresented in mainstream social psychology and all were very relevant to real-time events such as anti-Roma attitudes, populism, caste, prejudice and inequality. Needless to say, researchers who participated in the meeting were highly critical researchers. Yet, they knew when and how compliment one’s research.
One of the great benefits of being in a small or medium size meeting is that it makes us, junior researchers more visible. The meeting allowed many of us to get feedback on our work in a devoted and personal manner and paved the way for collaborations with other researchers who attended the conference.
I would like to thank the organizers of the conference for being very kind and friendly. Anna Kende, Barbara Lášticová, Katarzyna Jaśko and Stephen Reicher made me feel very welcomed. What I liked most is that they made an effort to approach me and other participants and to make sure we feel being visible and part of the group and the place. This is very unique to such occasions where often one feels lost in a crowd of ambitious researchers. Thank you very much indeed!
Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, India
I wish to express my gratitude to the organisers for giving me the opportunity to present my research at the brilliant platform that was EASP Bratislava. The novel ideas, approaches, and methodological rigour in the work of all presenters has been nothing short of inspiring. As a PhD student from India the two days at the meeting with all the presentations, discussions, and conversations have been filled with many learnings. The meeting was for me, not just an opportunity to exchange researches in the field across diverse contexts, but also to learn the idea of social/group psychology as a discipline in several different countries. The warmth in all interactions during the meetings made for a positive experience, and I felt at home amongst scholars engaged in a truly ‘social’ social psychology.
The organization of both formal sessions and informal outings was impeccable. The format and schedule ensured that all participants attend all the sessions, including posters. Personally, I’m grateful to the organisers and fellow participants for their extremely encouraging and responsive comments. All in all, it was an enriching experience.
Selected anonymous feedback
“I liked the narrow topic focus and the number of presenters and balance between longer and shorter presentations was perfect - it was great to be in Eastern Europe and hear about research from there.”
“I really liked the structure of the conference (single-panel), the interesting and high-quality talks, and also the social programs.”
“The schedule was a little tight. More time for discussion would have been nice.”
“The topics of the presentation were quite similar, more variance (either on topics, methods or theories) would have been nice.”
“I like the idea that some sessions are reserved to discuss the issues of general interest - without individual presentations, just directly discuss important issues (e.g. whether models developed in the West apply to other contexts). Also, perhaps some apps can be used for the questions from the audience (like Slido) to both encourage more people to participate in discussions and to allow presenters to keep their questions and comments and discuss them at a later moment.”
“Maybe 2-3 days with the same amount of talks; an overall discussion about where to go from here would be nice.”
Selected impressions from social media
#EASPBratislava has been fantastic; great organization of both formal & informal events, lots of good conversations and interesting people. Big thanks to Barbara, Anna, Kasia & @ReicherStephen for making it happen! #welldone ps. Great Slovakian coffee was an added bonus! pic.twitter.com/OwnZiI3uOg— Sandra Obradovic (@SandyObradovic) September 9, 2018
#EASPBratislava is finally over. It was a great pleasure to attend this conference with such a diverse background and extremely inspiring research. Many thanks to organisers!— Anna Potoczek (@AnnaPotoczek) September 9, 2018
Barbara Lasticova gives the closing remarks to #EASPBratislava. ‘For two days Bratislava has been the capital of European social psychology’. And what a social psychology it has been. Critical, innovative, creative. A model for the future. Thanks, Barbara, for making it happen! pic.twitter.com/9QLpELvNJ9— Stephen Reicher (@ReicherStephen) September 8, 2018
Great talk by Thomas Kessler at #EASPBratislava rethinking the concept of prejudice. It is a normative and rhetorical device used to characterise -ve evaluations of groups we see as normative. Negativity towards groups we see as anti-normative is seen as simply the way it is.— Stephen Reicher (@ReicherStephen) September 8, 2018