This article proposes that addressing the complex ethnic and racial issues of the 21st century will require a diversity science. A diversity science will consider how people create, interpret, and maintain group differences among individuals, as well as the psychological and societal consequences of these distinctions. A diversity science will recognize that these significant social distinctions (in the case of this article, race and ethnicity) are not simply natural, neutral, or abstract. Instead they are created and recreated in the process of everyday social interactions that are grounded in historically derived ideas and beliefs about difference and in a set of practices and institutions that reflect these ideas and beliefs and that therefore shape psychological experience and behavior. According to this “sociocultural” framework, psychological experience and behavior, in turn, reinforce particular cultural and structural realities. As an initial step toward a diversity science, this article reviews the roots and consequences of two examples of how to think about difference, color blindness and multiculturalism. Through this sociocultural lens, intergroup behaviors can be understood as more than just products of individual prejudice. This article also proposes that a comprehensive diversity science requires a critical examination of majority group perspectives, minority group perspectives, and their dynamic interaction beyond the typical Black– White binary. Such a diversity science has the potential to help meaningfully inform race-related policy.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/victoria_plaut/14/