The finding that ethnic prejudice is particularly weakly developed among those with interethnic friendships is often construed as confirming the so-called ‘contact theory,’ which holds that interethnic contact reduces racial prejudice. This theory raises cultural–sociological suspicions, however, because of its tendency to reduce culture to an allegedly ‘more fundamental’ realm of social interaction. Analyzing data from the first wave of the European Social Survey, we therefore test the theory alongside an alternative cultural–sociological theory about culturally driven processes of contact selection. We find that whereas interethnic friendships are indeed culturally driven, which confirms our cultural–sociological theory, contacts with neighbors and colleagues do indeed affect ethnic prejudice. They do so in a manner that is more complex and more culturally sensitive than contact theory suggests, however: while positive cultural stances vis-à-vis ethnic diversity lead interethnic contact to decrease ethnic prejudice, negative ones rather lead the former to increase the latter.
American Journal of Cultural Sociology – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 20, 2017
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