Ironies of proximity: Intergroup threat and contact avoidance on neighbourhood interface areas

Dixon, John; Tredoux, Colin; Durrheim, Kevin; Kerr, Philippa and Gijbertsen, Brice (2023). Ironies of proximity: Intergroup threat and contact avoidance on neighbourhood interface areas. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology [Early Access].

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/casp.2732

Abstract

Research on the dynamics of neighbourhood desegregation and diversity has identified a paradox. On the one hand, such processes may engender positive intergroup contact experiences, improving intergroup attitudes and relations. On the other hand, they may have the opposite effect, exacerbating negative intergroup relations and generating new forms of avoidance and exclusion. The present research explored one aspect of this paradox. Building on a field survey conducted with Indian residents (n = 364) of a suburb of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, we demonstrate how their relative proximity to areas occupied by ‘incoming’ Black African residents has shaped their perceptions of intergroup threat and associated reactions such as contact avoidance, boundary fortification and support for policies resisting desegregation. At the same time, we demonstrate how such effects are moderated by residents' wider experiences of positive interracial contact. In conclusion, we emphasize the need to better integrate psychological work on the contact hypothesis with work in companion disciplines such as urban studies and human geography. Please refer to the Supplementary Material section to find this article's Community and Social Impact Statement.

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