Group identity as an obstacle and catalyst of peace

TitleGroup identity as an obstacle and catalyst of peace
Publication TypeBook Chapter
AuthorsFry, D. P.
EditorLeckman, J., C. Panter-Brick, and R. Salah
Social identity is not only an obstacle to peace; it can also be engaged to advance peace, such as when children are raised to develop multiple and cross-cutting forms of identification. This chapter considers the evidence that nomadic forager band social organization is not particularly conducive to the formation of hostile “us versus them” social identities and that, consequently, “ us versus them” distinctions have only become strongly manifested with the development of more complex forms of social organization (e.g., tribes, kingdoms, nations) within the last 12,500 years or so. Such a proposition highlights the malleability of the concept of identity and contradicts the school of thought that sees “us versus them” identity formation as a long-standing innate tendency. This chapter will also consider how social identity can contribute to peace when it is employed in inclusive and unifying ways, in contrast to exclusionary and dehumanizing ways. This occurs, for example, within non-warring peace systems, when additional overarching identities are developed in the service of peace. In terms of promoting peace and inclusive social identities during childhood, it is suggested that explicitly teaching global citizenship can contribute to raising a peaceful world.
Title Group identity as an obstacle and catalyst of peace
Publication Title Pathways to peace: The transformative power of children and families
Publication Type Book Chapter
Published Year 2014
Publisher MIT Press
Authors D.P. Fry
Editors J. Leckman; C. Panter-Brick; R. Salah
Section 6
Edition 15
Grant List


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