Equal but Different: Effects of Equality/Inclusion and Cultural Pluralism on Intergroup Outcomes in Multiethnic Classrooms

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Abstract

Objectives: Integrating research on intergroup contact and intercultural relations, we investigated effects of 2 types of cultural diversity norms (equality/inclusion and cultural pluralism) on outgroup orientation and perceived discrimination among students of immigrant and nonimmigrant background. Method: Our sample comprised 1,975 6th graders (Mage = 11.53, SDage = 0.69, 47% female) in Germany, of whom 1,213 (61%) were of immigrant background, defined as having at least 1 parent born in a different country. A total of 83 countries of origin were represented. We applied a multilevel framework to assess the impact of individual-level and class-level predictors on intergroup outcomes, controlling for the classroom ethnic composition, school track, and individual-level covariates. Immigrant background was treated as a moderator. Results: The 2 types of cultural diversity norms were generally associated with more positive intergroup outcomes. Some of the associations differed in strength between students of immigrant and nonimmigrant background. There were stronger associations of equality/inclusion with higher outgroup orientation among students of nonimmigrant background and with lower perceived discrimination among students of immigrant background. Ethnic composition, as well as the classroom-aggregated diversity norms (diversity climate) showed weaker relations with the outcome variables. Conclusions:Equality/inclusion norms and cultural pluralism norms can make complementary contributions to positive relations between students of immigrant and nonimmigrant background. Equality/inclusion norms foster positive contact and equal treatment, while cultural pluralism norms emphasize that it is also important to value diversity.1

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