Minority group members' theories of intergroup contact: A case study of British Muslims' conceptualizations of Islamophobia and social change


Correspondence should be addressed to N. Hopkins, Department of Psychology, Dundee University, Dundee DD1 4HN, Scotland, UK (e-mail: n.p.hopkins@dundee.ac.uk)


Much research in intergroup relations concerns the potential for interventions (e.g. intergroup contact) to reduce majorities' discrimination against minorities. In this paper we focus on how minority group members construe such interventions, especially as they affect their abilities to act in terms of their collective identity to realize social change. In addressing this issue, we focus on a minority's beliefs and theories concerning the intergroup dynamics lying behind their marginalization. Our data are qualitative and concern British Muslims' analyses of the dynamics of Islamophobia. Specifically, we explore two theorizations of Muslims' marginalization. Both share a concern with improving Muslims' collective position in Britain. However, they construe the dynamics to Islamophobia in very different ways, and this shapes their approach to intergroup contact and dialogue. Our analysis is informed by, and seeks to complement, social psychological theorizing on social change and intergroup contact.