Social Psychology Assignment

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A string of police killings of Black people in the U.S. and statistics of disproportionate deaths in custody of Indigenous people in Australia led to a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S., Australia and across the world in 2020/21. One possible cause for police brutality against Black people is racism among the police force. In this assignment, you are to discuss:

Racism: Psychological explanations, their meta-theoretical underpinnings, and implications for the police force

(Note: We are not concerning ourselves here with the question of whether indeed there is racism among the police, or to what extent. Rather, if there was, how could we explain it.)

                           ——————————————————————

The aim of this assignment is to review psychological explanations of racism, analyse the meta-theories they reflect, and discuss implications for stemming racism in the police force. Specifically, you should discuss any two ‘classic’ theoretical accounts of racism plus the social identity account. The classic accounts should be only briefly discussed and the focus should be on the social identity account.

You should also briefly discuss what meta-theories the classic accounts may reflect, but the focus should again be on an analysis of the meta-theory that infuses the social identity account. The meta-theories of interest are those discussed in the lectures/workshops: dispositionalism, situationism, static or dynamic interactionism. There is no need to choose theories that represent all of them. It is also possible that some theoretical accounts of racism do not exactly match one of the meta-theories, and rather may only approximate one or be a blend of some. This would be for you to discuss.

In the final section, you should further discuss what the implications of the reviewed theories are for the possibility of, and practical steps toward, reducing racism in the police force.

The following chapter by Reynolds and colleagues is the key reading, but you may wish to consult other primary or secondary literature for further input. The book is available as e-book through the Central Library catalogue and you can access and download the chapter as pdf:

Reynolds, K. J., Haslam, S. A., & Turner, J. C. (2012). Prejudice, social identity and social change: Resolving the Allportian problematic. In J. Dixon & M. Levine (Eds.), Beyond prejudice: Extending the social psychology of conflict, inequality and social change (pp. 48-69). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

To summarise, your task is to

  • describe psychological explanations of racism (racial prejudice) and their reflection of different meta-theories
  • focus on the theoretical account proposed by Reynolds et al., and analyse precisely how interactionism is represented in this account
  • apply the accounts to the present question and discuss what they suggest should be done to reduce racism among the police force.

Formal requirements:

  • Max. word count is 1250 words; 1% deduction per any full 10 words over the limit. In-text references and reference list are not included in the word count.
  • Due on Thursday, October 6, 4pm; late papers will see a reduction of 2% for each full day that the work is late.
  • To be submitted electronically via FLO.
  • APA style for text (12 points Times New Roman font, double-spaced) and referencing.
  • Subheadings can be included for structure, but keep them at a minimum given the shortness of the assignment.
  • Use the attached assignment paper template that includes a standardised introduction that will not add to the word count.

Make sure you consult the Grading Rubric, which is also attached.

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