Religious fundamentalism and social identity
The attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in the United States of September 11th, 2001 brought the phenomenon of religious fundamentalism to the world's attention.Sociological research has clearly demonstrated that fundamentalists are primarily reacting against modernity, and believe that they are fighting for the very survival of their faith against the secular enemy. But we understand very little about how and why people join fundamentalist movements and embrace a set of beliefs, values and norms of behaviour which are counter-cultural. This is essentially a question for social psychology, since it involves both social relations and individual selves. Drawing on a broad theoretical perspective, social identity theory, Peter Herriot addresses two key questions: why do fundamentalists identify themselves as an in-group fighting against various out-groups? And how do the psychological needs for self-esteem and meaning motivate them? Case studies of Mohammed Atta, the leader of the 9/11hijackers, and of the current controversy in the Anglican Church about gay priests and bishops, demonstrate how fruitfully this theory can be applied to fundamentalist conflicts. It also offers psychologically sensible ways of managing such conflicts, rather than treating fundamentalists as an enemy to be defeated. Religious Fundamentalism and Social Identity is unique in applying social identity theory to fundamentalism, and rare in that it provides psychological (in addition to sociological) analyses of the phenomenon. It is a valuable resource for courses in social psychology which seek to demonstrate the applicability of social psychological theory to the real world.
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Social identity theory
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action adherents Allah Almond American Protestant Anglican Communion Archbishop argues Atta's attributions Bates Bible Biblical Inerrancy bishops born-again BVNs central Chapter Christian Church conservative evangelicals context culture derived distinctive doctrine dualism emphasise enemy evangelicals example faith feature of fundamentalism feel fight funda fundamentalist belief system fundamentalist conflict fundamentalist leaders fundamentalist movements God's Haredi Hence hijackers holy book hostile ibid important in-group individual Intergroup internalised Islam issue jahili Jerry Falwell jihad Juergensmeyer Lambeth Conference liberal M.A. Hogg mainstream Mawdudi mentalist militant mobilise modern Mohammed Atta moral majority motivate Muslim nature norms of behaviour one's organisational out-group perceived perceptions Peter Tatchell political prejudice prototype Qur'an Qutb religion Religious Fundamentalism religious movements salient Satan Sayyid Qutb secular world self-esteem self-esteem and meaning sexual social comparison social identity theory Social Psychology social situations spiritual stereotypes struggle threat tion values versus victory violence worldview