On Friday 5th of April 2019, as part of the Francqui international professorship attributed to Prof. Jolanda Jetten, will organize a symposium on the social psychology of inequalities. Four outstanding international scholars have been invited to talk about this topic.
– 9:00: Welcome (Olivier Klein, Université Libre de Bruxelles)
– 9:15: “Framing inequality: How language and communication shape perceptions of and reactions to social inequality” (Susanne Bruckmüller, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany)
– 10:00: “The importance of social psychological factors within education: Explaining achievement, motivation, and engagement (Matt Easterbrook, University of Sussex, UK)
– 10:45: Coffee break.
– 11:00: “Social inequality: Understanding the role of Stigma and Self‐Regulation processes” (Colette van Laar, KU Leuven, Belgium)
– 11:45: “Economic inequality: consequences for societies’ social and political vitality” (Jolanda Jetten, University of Queensland, Australia)
– 12:30: Discussion
– 12:45: Lunch
Framing inequality: How language and communication shape perceptions of and reactions to social inequality
Susanne Bruckmüller (University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany)
Abstract: Social and economic inequality has become a much-debated topic in the social sciences, in politics, and the media. Yet, the way inequality is talked about (that is, its framing) varies. For example, income differences between men and women can be described as men earning more or as women earning less. Some descriptions of economic inequality focus on CEOs who earn a multitude of what the average worker makes; some highlight how many – or rather, how few – individuals together own as much as the poorer half of the world combined; and others describe how many people work in precarious employment conditions or focus on the number of people living in absolute or relative poverty. Yet others use metaphors to describe inequality such as the “glass ceiling” for women or the “gap” (or the “scissors” in Germany) between the rich and the poor. These different framings matter, because language is not only an expression of human thoughts and feelings, it also influences them. Accordingly, even subtle variations in framing can have profound effects. In this presentation, I will (1) discuss the role of framing for the perpetuation of, and challenges to, social inequality, (2) suggest a way to systemize research from different disciplines, and (3) present some empirical examples for how different framings of economic inequality can shape appraisals of and responses to inequality.
The importance of social psychological factors within education: Explaining achievement, motivation, and engagement.
Matt Easterbrook (University of Sussex, UK)
Abstract: In this talk I will argue that social psychological factors are important but often neglected contributors to educational inequalities between groups. I will present a series of studies conducted with school pupils and college students which show that a sense of belonging at school and/or college, and a sense of identity compatibility – a sense that doing well in education is in line with one’s social background – predict academic achievement, wellbeing, and university choice, and contribute to the seemingly intractable social class achievement gap in the UK. I will also present evidence showing that students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds also experience stereotype threat, which is negatively related to academic performance. Finally, I will present evidence suggesting social psychological interventions can help to improve the performance of disadvantaged students and enable them to achieve their potential within education.
Social inequality: Understanding the role of Stigma and Self‐Regulation processes
Colette van Laar (KU Leuven, Belgium)
Abstract: This presentation will focus on social inequality processes, particularly processes relevant to the targets of stereotyping such as ethnic minorities and women (but also men as we will see): how negative stereotypes, low expectations, prejudice and discrimination affect members of stigmatized groups, resulting in lower outcomes in for example education and on the labor market. Specifically, I will focus on stigma and self-regulatory processes and their role in social inequality – in particular on the role of threat and support, and hidden costs in regulating stigma – using illustrations from laboratory and field studies, cross-sectional and large scale longitudinal designs, and studies using psycho-physiological measures.
Economic inequality: consequences for societies’ social and political vitality
Jolanda Jetten (University of Queensland, Australia)
Abstract: Societal inequality has been found to have pernicious effects reducing mental and physical health and decreasing societal cohesion. However, in almost all studies to date, the effects of inequality are examined by focusing on objective indicators, based on collated administrative data (such as the Gini index). Even though these efforts are important, they rest on the untested assumption that changes in actual income inequality in a country or society affect how citizens perceive and judge the inequality they face. In a range of studies and contexts, we examine the effect of objective measures of inequality (as measured by the GINI coefficient), and perceptions of inequality on outcomes such as well-being and perceptions of societal functioning. In experimental work, we examine effects of inequality on among others the wish for a strong leader, prosocial behavior, and the endorsement of conspiracy theories.