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Heymans Colloquium - MiniSymposium: Prof. T.Kessler & drs. B. Akkus

Wanneer:do 03-10-2013 10:00 - 12:00
Waar:Room BL205, Bloemstraat 36, Groningen

Social Regulation within Groups and Cultures

Prof. Thomas Kessler
Drs. Birol Akkus

Thursday, 3 October 2013, 10.00 – 12.00 hrs

Room BL205, Bloemstraat 36, Groningen

Prof. Thomas Kessler
(Professor at Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Jena, Duitsland)

Authoritarianism: Its Virtues and Vices

Everybody knows that authoritarianism is a social problem. However, this might be due to the association of authoritarianism with conservatism. Once we divorce ideology from group processes underlying authoritarianism, we may see that authoritarianism consists in group formation, normative differentiation, and the punishment of ingroup deviants, which may be found in a great variety of groups. The punishment of ingroup deviance may foster group cohesion and cooperation. Thus, authoritarianism is not as bad as we thought. However (again and a big one), following the ingroup projection model the same intragroup processes that promote the punishment of ingroup deviance may also lead to prejudice and conflict between social groups. Moreover, the idea of punishment itself may sometimes produce social conflict and distance.

Although authoritarianism may foster ingroup cooperation it has the strong potential to produce intergroup tensions. Thus, irrespective of ideology, authoritarianism may not be so good after all.  In this talk I will illustrate this line of thought with current studies and discuss some of its implications.

Drs. Birol Akkus
(Social psychology, University of Groningen)


Community Collectivism: Hierarchy, honor and loyalty as cultural processes

The Individualism-Collectivism spectrum is generally regarded as a useful heuristic to observe and explain differences between cultures. Current operationalizations of this spectrum focus mainly on cultural values and less on social processes. In collectivist communities, particular social values are encouraged and enforced by social networks within which the individual plays a subservient role. This implies
that individuals may perceive differences between their own individual values and community values, and that the latter may exert a strong influence on individual behavior. Moreover, within those social networks we see not just variation in the degree to which individual autonomy is tolerated: those networks also have a particular social hierarchy, they are held together by a sense of loyalty and norms are regulated through honor. In order to test these ideas we have developed a new measure, which measures cultural dynamics on both individual as community levels: the Community Collectivism Scale (ComCol). In this talk I present the results of our validation of the ComCol, its characteristics, which we also related to some behavioural measures, and discuss its implications. I will also talk about some future
ideas, including research on the protests in Turkey. I will suggest that these protests can be seen in terms of a (sub)cultural shift in Turkish society: a perceived value conflict illustrated through the multi-leveled ComCol structure.