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Power relations in intergroup encounters: a case study of Jewish–Arab encounters in Israel

International Journal of Intercultural Relations
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0147-1767(99)00035-8
  • Power Relations
  • Intergroup Encounters
  • Coexistence Projects
  • Jewish–Arab Conflict
  • Contact Hypothesis
  • Minority Influence
  • Power Bases
  • Educational Intervention
  • Majority–Minority Relations
  • Group Processes
  • Education
  • Psychology


Abstract The purpose of this study is to examine processes and patterns of power relations between majority and minority groups, as manifested in a case study of intergroup encounters between Jews and Arabs in Israel. The research method was qualitative, relying mostly on ethnographic data assembled during the last 4 years of an educational encounter project aimed at reducing hostility and promoting coexistence between the sides. The findings point to two parallel processes of influence: the more expected process of dominance of the Jewish majority, together with an interesting pattern of dominance and influence of the Arab minority that emerged primarily when the encounters focused on the conflict between the sides. It is suggested that the latter process of minority influence is related to a dispute that appeared throughout the project regarding the legitimacy and desirability of discussing the conflict inside the encounter. These processes are outlined and analyzed in accordance with social-psychological theories of majority and minority influence (Moscovici, 1980; Mugny & Perez, 1991) [Moscovici, S., 1980. Toward a theory of conversion behavior. In: L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology (Vol. 13, pp. 209–239). New York: Academic Press; Mugny G., & Perez J.A. (1991). The social psychology of minority influence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press].

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