Ethnic identity, legitimizing ideologies, and social status: A matter of ideological asymmetry

Shana Levin, Jim Sidanius, Joshua L. Rabinowitz, Christopher Federico

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125 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper examines the ideological asymmetry hypothesis with respect to the interface between legitimizing ideologies and psychological attachment to one's ethnic group. The ideological asymmetry hypothesis suggests that hierarchy-enhancing legitimizing ideologies should be positively associated with ingroup attachment among high-status groups, but that among low-status groups these associations should be either less positive in magnitude (isotropic asymmetry) relative to high-status groups or negative in direction (anisotropic asymmetry). The opposite pattern should be found with respect to the interface between hierarchy-attenuating legitimizing ideologies and ingroup attachment: Among high-status groups these associations should be negative, but among low-status groups these associations should be either less negative in magnitude (isotropic asymmetry) relative to high-status groups or positive in direction (anisotropic asymmetry). The presence of isotropic versus anisotropic asymmetry is hypothesized to depend on the degree of disparity in status between the groups being compared: Wider status gaps should tend toward anisotropic asymmetries. The relationships between legitimizing ideologies and ingroup attachment were compared for (1) relatively high-status ethnic groups (European and Asian Americans) versus relatively low-status ethnic groups (Latinos and African Americans) in the United States, (2) the higher-status Jewish ethnic group (Ashkenazim) vesus the lower-status Jewish ethnic group (Mizrachim) in Israel, and (3) the high-status Israeli Jews versus the low-status Israeli Arabs. The data were largely consistent with the ideological asymmetry hypothesis. The implications of these findings are discussed within the theoritical frameworks of social dominance theory and other approaches to intergroup relations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-404
Number of pages32
JournalPolitical Psychology
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1998

Keywords

  • Ethnic identity
  • Group status
  • Ideology
  • Intergroup relations
  • Social dominance

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