Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Teo

Social Distance

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5583-7_559


Within diverse societies, people from different groups experience connection and solidarity in some social situations and distance and alienation from members of different groups in other situations. The concept of social distance was developed to advance understanding of processes of acceptance and estrangement between groups of people in cities where people who belong to different groups come into regular contact with one another.


Social distance refers to the extent to which people experience a sense of familiarity (nearness and intimacy) or unfamiliarity (farness and difference) between themselves and people belonging to different social, ethnic, occupational, and religious groups from their own. Social distance is not a static cognitive attribute of acceptance. People can shift and change their sense of affinity or dissonance with particular groups across different contexts. Accordingly, it is more accurate to think of social distancingas a dynamic social...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand