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Understanding Prejudice: Stigma, Self-Esteem and the Dynamics of Antisemitism & Islamophobia 

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

This thesis sets out to understand the consequences of prejudice against German Jews in the Weimar Republic, and British Muslims in contemporary England. I am interested in the responses of targets of these prejudices, and the social and political dynamics underpinning these responses, as well as how the collective self-esteem of targets relates with their responses. Discourses of self-esteem have been well documented in psychological literature, however, there is little research on the mechanisms connecting stressors of prejudice, collective self-esteem and coping with Islamophobia and Antisemitism in particular. The primary contribution of this piece of work is its attempt to devise a typology of coping strategies and use them to offer insight into the processes of Antisemitism and Islamophobia. I explore the lived experiences of Jews in the Weimar Republic and British Muslims in contemporary, post-9/11 England. Through an exploration of their responses to Anti-Semitic and Islamophobic prejudices, ranging from assimilation to withdrawal from society, I put forward the ‘third way’ response of accommodation. I study their choice of coping strategies against these prejudice through a combination approach using semi-structured interviews, questionnaires, and an analysis of memoirs, diaries and autobiographies. The thesis also evaluates how the collective self-esteem of individuals in both cases is affected by the prejudices they face, and it seeks to establish a link between collective self-esteem and coping strategies of the targets of prejudice. I hope that by studying these two cases in parallel, I can bring to prominence a more contextualised understanding of responses towards religious prejudice through the target’s lens, as well as a nuanced perspective into the dynamics of both Antisemitism and Islamophobia.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date2018

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