Incidents as Catalysts of Change
Seemingly permanent injustice comes to be the status quo and improvement as a result comes at a glacial pace. But individual incidents, from murders caught on cellphones to conceptual breakthroughs debuting in courtrooms, can catalyze change.
What does social and behavioral science say or suggest as the first draft of history is laid down?
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In the aftermath of the grand jury decision not to prosecute a white police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black teen, a paper in a new journal from the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences looks at the bias in the U.S. criminal justice system.
One black city council member is not nearly enough. In a study of city councils, only one place in America had a greater representational disparity than Ferguson, Missouri.
Social psychology teaches us that when people riot, their collective behavior is never mindless. It may often be criminal, but it is structured and coherent with meaning and conscious intent. To address the causes of such violence, we need to understand this.
You and a body of like-minded people want to reform a wretched regime, or perhaps just break away from it and create an independent state. Are you more likely to achieve your goals by a campaign of bombings, assassinations and riots, or by mass protests which are avowedly peaceful? Your first step should be to schedule a sit-down with Erica Chenoweth, who has been studying that question since 2006.
“In a sense, you could summarize the literature: ‘Groups are bad for you, groups take moral individuals and they turn them into immoral idiots.’ I have been trying to contest that notion,” social psychologist Stephen Reicher says in this Social Science Bites podcast, “[and] also to explain how that notion comes about.”