Negative contact, collective action, and social change: Critical reflections, technological advances, and new directions
Dixon J., McKeown S.
Intergroup contact research has expanded exponentially in the last few decades, with researchers employing a widening range of methods to offer new insights into the effects of both positive and negative contact experiences. In this commentary, we discuss the contributions of three papers to this special issue of the Journal of Social Issues on advances in intergroup contact research, namely Schäfer et al.’s (2021) review of research on negative intergroup contact experiences, Hässler et al.’s (2020) review of research on intergroup contact and social change, and O'Donnell et al.’s (2021) review of technological and analytic advances in contact research. Having outlined the key arguments of each paper, we then offer some theoretical and methodological reflections, also discussing potential gaps, connections, opportunities, and future directions along the way. We end by reflecting on a common theme that permeates our commentary: the need to contextualize adequately the dynamics of intergroup contact across a range of everyday settings. Here we argue that to fully understand how to promote beneficial forms of intergroup contact, we need to consider more carefully how contact is experienced, enacted, and evaluated “on the ground” by participants themselves. This requires work of both theoretical and methodological innovation.