Final Conclusions

  • Elke Murdock
Part of the Palgrave Politics of Identity and Citizenship Series book series ( CAL)


Increasingly complex societies pose a challenge to human identity development, and culture contact adds an additional dimension. The reach of globalization was noted in Chap.  3: People experience an increase in the frequency and intensity of intercultural exposure even without necessarily physically relocating. Culture contact presents additional challenges to core human motives (Chap.  4): At the cognitive level, the culture contact experience may represent a challenge to understanding and the experience of control. As was noted, belongingness is a core motive, and within multicultural societies, the boundaries between in- and out-groups become increasingly blurred and categorization processes become more and more difficult. As was also noted, belongingness shapes cognition and people classify in terms of social relationships. Information about in- and out-group members is cognitively processed differently, with information about in-group members being processed in more complex ways (attribute-based) and out-group information more simplistically (category-based). As Baumeister and Leary (1995) observed, prejudice can be employed towards out-groups to which individuals have no opportunity to belong (e.g. ethnicity or gender). The in-group is then bolstered at the expense of the out-group—serving the need to enhance self-worth—self-enhancement being another core motive. In the context of proliferation of groups within complex societies, it was also remarked that if complexity reaches a certain degree, a move towards simplification as a counter-reaction emerges. Alibhai-Brown (2001) was quoted who observed that the reaction to this bewildering opening up of our lives has been a greater (and more idealized) identification with old histories and smaller, neater identities. Thus at a time of proliferation of choice of in-groups, a counter-reaction may be observed in the form of (over-) simplification or nostalgia.


Host Society Core Motive Language Competence Multicultural Society Foreign Population 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elke Murdock
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LuxembourgEsch-sur-AlzetteLuxembourg

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