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Social Distance and Affective Orientations

Nedim Karakayali
Sociological Forum
Vol. 24, No. 3 (Sep., 2009), pp. 538-562
Published by: Wiley
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40542691
Page Count: 25
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Social Distance and Affective Orientations
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Abstract

Most groups have social distance norms that differentiate "us" from "them." Contrary to a widespread assumption in the sociological literature, however, these normative distinctions, even when they are collectively recognized, do not always overlap with the affective orientations of group members in a uniform manner. Relations between normatively close members of a group are not always warm and friendly, and normatively distant groups can sometimes be an object of reverence and love. In this study, a typology of five different ways in which normatively distant groups can be perceived is presented: as competitors, allies, symbols of otherness, saviors, and ambivalent figures. Each type tends to emerge under certain circumstances and triggers different affective orientations. This typology is not a substitute for a general theory, but it aims to provide preliminary insights for investigating why affective orientations toward normatively distant groups take different forms and, more generally, to motivate further inquiry into the relationships between different dimensions of social distance.

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