Minority v. Majority: A new BIGSSS project about dealing with diversity › view all


DFG awards Dora Simunovic funding for her Postdoc position and a 30-month research project

It is not news that our societies are multicultural and ethnically heterogeneous. Neither is it news that, despite the great strengths of diversity, it comes with a fair bit of conflict. Minority ethnic and religious groups frequently face discrimination, while the majority tends to feel threatened and disenfranchised by their presence. This frequently leads to smaller contributions to public goods and over-exploitation of communal resources which we all rely on, thus weakening the whole group. It is this conflict between minorities and majorities which becomes the topic of a new BIGSSS project funded by the DFG and conducted by BIGSSS postdoctoral fellow, Dora Simunovic.

While the issue may be an old one, the approach to it is new, combining game theory with social psychology to understand the dynamics between minority and majority groups in the lab and outside of it. The project, “Minority v. Majority: Structural Determinants of Conflict and Cooperation in Heterogeneous Societies”, relies on a central theoretical prediction: that the conflict which occurs between minority and majority groups has to do, in part, with the difficulties achieving cooperation in common resource management dilemma. In other words, the insecurities about common resources and, more specifically, the majority’s expectation that minorities will cheat in this dilemma, are a significant predictor of negative prejudice and discrimination against them. Dora’s work will be tracking this effect down in laboratory and survey data, and testing potential ways to manage it.

Dora has been working on this idea since coming to BIGSSS in 2014. As the project grew, so did the team involved in the research, which has now come to include a good deal of international collaborators, as well as many BIGSSS members: Ulrich Kühnen, Klaus Boehnke, Adalbert Wilhelm, and Franziska Deutsch at Jacobs University, Steffen Bandlow-Raffalski and Johannes Huinink at Bremen University, and BIGSSS alumni, Nazan Avci (METU University) and Lusine Grigoryan (Ruhr University Bochum).

Contact: Dora Simunovic