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Identity Questions. Researching Openness and Closure in European Societies

Thursday October 15, 2009, at 14:00
Aula 4 - IBEI
Research seminar
This paper gives insights into the theoretical assumptions underlying my research project. It aims to demonstrate how different processes of identity construction can influence individuals’ attitudes towards immigrants, and to illustrate how in-groups categorise different out-groups; not only making comparisons with the self but also through the concept of the salient other.
In the first part of the paper, by illustrating the different processes of identity construction, I explain why I expect to find an inverse relation between degrees of social interaction and attraction towards ascribed identities, and a direct relation between individuals’ interactions and positive attitudes towards immigrants.
In the second part, I explain why the concept of the salient other can be particularly helpful in a dual identification context, like Catalonia, in order to understand how in-groups define scales of diversity. In a dual identification context, indeed, the “salient other” can refer to the main national identity rather than – as in other national contexts – to the most numerous out-group, or to those out-groups that are perceived to be antagonistic to the in-group, as a result, perhaps, of international events. This model can be extremely helpful in explaining why results in dual nationality contexts are often contradictory, and why, when studying inter-ethnic relations, a scholar should not imagine he/she is dealing with an undistinguished other, but must examine otherness in a plurality of frames.