Social systems are organized so that some groups are at the top of the hierarchy and others are at the bottom. Psychosocial approaches to intergroup relations have typically operationalized status differences as pairs of social categories (i.e., high‐ vs. low‐status groups). This paper discusses the role of intermediate‐status groups and how the introduction of a third element in the hierarchy permits the consideration of more dynamic and complex intergroup relations. Starting from social identity theory, a theory of triadic social stratification is presented and four hypotheses are advanced. The key point is that intermediate‐status groups supply members with a positive social identity through downward social comparisons with the lower‐status group and hence intermediate‐status group members are motivated to maintain their social position. Further hypotheses concern the fact that intermediate‐status group members may act in a reactionary way especially when social stratification is unstable and members experience fear of losing their relative advantages. Contrariwise, intermediate‐status group members would collectively challenge the status quo only when their relative social advantage is not in question. I consider existing work that supports these hypotheses and discuss how triadic social stratification theory may help to explain some intergroup dynamics such as the reluctance of dominated groups to collectively act in order to change the social stratification and the formation of alliances between groups for social change or hierarchy maintenance.
Considering intermediate-status groups in intergroup hierarchies: A theory of triadic social stratification / Caricati, Luca. - In: JOURNAL OF THEORETICAL SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY. - ISSN 2475-0387. - 2:2(2018), pp. 58-66. [10.1002/jts5.19]
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