Oiling the Mechanics of Racism. "Understanding Prejudice, Racism, and Social Conflict", by Martha Augoustinos and Katherine J. Reynolds (eds) and "The Social Psychology of Adolescence", by Patrick C.L. Heaven. [review]
Martha Augoustinos and Katherine J. Reynolds have edited an intellectually substantial collection of essays on a timely topic. The ease with which the perception of group difference can be cultivated and transformed into the perception of a threat, as seen in the rise of One Nation and, more recently, in the Australian community’s response to asylum seekers, sharpens the need for such a collection. It is not enough for those of us concerned by the inherent racism of the government’s policies, and the public approval of them, to point out either its irrational character or its inhumanity. If our opposition is to be effective, we need to understand the mechanics of racism. While the editors have consciously tried to remedy what they see as the dominance of socio-cognitive theories of prejudice and stereotyping that focus on the individual and present prejudice and racism as multi-level phenomena, questions of group and individual identity loom large in this collection and also in Patrick Heaven’s "The Social Psychology of Adolescence", where the central adolescent task of constructing one’s own identity is examined. How are the individual, group and national identity shaped? What are the rôles played by individual personality traits, parental styles, social groups, and social and political structures in constructing identity? How fixed, how malleable, are these identities?