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Seeing Red: A Social-Psychological Analysis of the Rajneeshpuram Conflict

Carl Latkin
Sociological Analysis
Vol. 53, No. 3, Monopolism and Pluralism in American Religion and Society (Autumn, 1992), pp. 257-271
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/3711703
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3711703
Page Count: 15
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Seeing Red: A Social-Psychological Analysis of the Rajneeshpuram Conflict
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Abstract

The commune of Rajneeshpuram, Oregon (1981-1985) provided for a naturalistic, social-psychological study of intergroup conflict - between the Rajneeshees and other groups. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected on the Rajneeshees and on Oregon residents' attitudes toward them. The prevailing attitude was overwhelmingly negative. The public's perceptions of and reactions to the Rajneeshees can be understood in terms of a dynamic social-cognitive process. The psychological concepts of schema, level of abstraction, and stress and coping mechanisms are useful in explaining the public's strong opinion. The construct of "moral exclusion" is of utility in understanding the Rajneeshees' attitudes and hostile actions. This conflict provided a unique opportunity to analyze how beliefs and tactics interact with social-cognitive processes throughout the conflict dynamic.

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