Advantages And Disadvantages Of Contact Theory

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The racial mixing of previously segregated people in South Africa is often regarded as desegregation being achieved or completed. This assay will argue that inter-racial co-existence does not necessarily mean desegregation by reflecting on other research that was conducted for the purpose of studying the behaviourism of individuals and groups in specific spatial contexts. The limitations and certain criticisms of Contact Theory will become a central focus as the theory was developed during a time when racism and racial tension were thought to derive from irrationally held beliefs and attitudes (Emerson, Kimbro & Yancey, 2002).
The theory is now regarded as “one of psychology’s most effective strategies for improving intergroup relations” (Zuma, 2010) because Gordon Allport (1954 as cited in Wright & Baray, 2012) and his contact hypothesis proposed that increasing the frequency of inter-group interaction serves to reduce racial
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This contact and interaction was referred to as desegregation, promoting the belief that greater contact would quickly produce more positive attitudes (Zuma, 2010) but attitudinal change is far from achieving desegregation.
There are three elements of segregation, namely, the geographical element which refer to the physical barriers between racial groups - an element previously forced during apartheid but still exists today through the residential design as White and Black communities continue to live in different social and economic spaces even where there is little geographical space between them (Zuma, 2010). The other two elements of segregation are psychological and behavioural based, which include sense of group position and the modes of conduct toward those of different race
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