Minority and Majority Identity



Type of instruction




Part of degree program


Recommended in

Semester 1

Typically offered in

Autumn semester

Course description

The course gives an introduction to the social psychological literature on identity, especially social identity, with an emphasis on various aspects of cultural, ethnic and national identity. With a special focus on minority / non-dominant and majority / dominant groups the course discusses group identification processes and their consequences relying on the relating basic social psychological concepts - such as self-categorization, self-concept, self-esteem and social identity. The investigations of these phenomena take place on three levels; view systems and practices are examined on individual intrapsychic level, interpersonal level – as appearing in group and inter-group processes - , and social system level. While discussing the role of status and power differences in intergroup relations, the course deals with the development of majority and minority identity. Questions of bi-and multicultural identity are also addressed.

Learning outcome, competences

  • Knowledge of the historical and cultural aspects of the relationship between majority & minority groups
  • Recognition of cultural differences, the importance of individual cultural identities and the complexity of everybody’s identity
  • Knowledge of the basic social psychological concepts relating to the topic (social identity, stigma, majority and minority identity, identity threat, identity development)
  • Interpretation of phenomena in individual, interpersonal and social system level with the consideration of various theoretical aspects


  • Openness to accepting the values and identities of other cultures
  • Sensitivity to every form of social discrimination
  • Openness to accepting the values of other culture
  • Recognition of cultural differences, the importance of individual cultural identities and the complexity of everybody’s identity
  • Acceptance of the fact that the co-existence of cultures may lead to conflicts in every field of social life, which can be peacefully solved by mutually constructive process of pluralistic societies
  • Seeing cultural diversity an opportunity with valuable assets that can be used for te purpose of social integration and development


  • Ability to use the acquired knowledge and approach in works situations, support and facilitate related processes (e.g. the development of positive identity)
  • Ability to reflect on the hidden assumptions of one’s own culture, to identify and critically relate to one’s own prejudices and ethnocentric views and to help others to develop this self-reflection
  • Ability to take into accout basic human rights, the characteristics of values and belief systems of different cultures as well as the process of value change

Content of the course
Topics of the course

  • Concept of identity interpreting at individual, group/intergroup and societal level.
  • The dimensions of power relations; majority- and minority identity, privileges and their consequences.
  • Acculturalism and identity; bi- and multicultural identities, the complexity of identity. Identity threat; classical theories; stigma and ways of coping (Goffman, Breakwell).
  • The dynamics of identity threat; new approaches (e.g. Ellemers).
  • Developmental aspects: positive identity development models (e.g. Helms, Phinney).
  • The complexity of identities, multiple (bi- and multicultural) identity, superordinate identity.
  • Sections of identities/group memberships; intersectionality.
  • Methods of strengthening minority identity (empowerment - for example: Photo Voice).
  • Learning activities, learning methods Interactive presentation, training methods, experiential learning, workshop by guest expert who work on the field, film- and literature review

Evaluation of outcomes
Learning requirements, mode of evaluation, criteria of evaluation:


  • Active participation during the class - maximum 6 hours absence
  • Reading the assigned readings
  • Writing a paper and/or photo / essay about a chosen topic related to course syllabus with the working title "identity”.

mode of evaluation:

Pratice mark. The writing assignment will be evaluated by grades and text feedback.

criteria of evaluation:

  • Constructive participation in the course
  • Relevance of the topic in writing assignment, and meeting the criteria
  • Self-reflexivity of the writing assignment
  • Coherence and complexity of the writing assignment


Compulsory reading list

  • Azmitia, M. (2015). Reflections on the Cultural Lenses of Identity Development. In McLean, K.C., Syed, M. (2015). (Eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Identity Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Branscombe, N.R., – Ellemers, N. – Spears, R. – Doosje, B.(1999). The context and content of social identity threat. In: Ellemers, N. – Spears, R. – Doosje, B.(eds.) Social identity. Context, commitment, content.
  • Blackwell, Oxford, 35-58. - Breakwell, G.M (1986). Coping with Threatened Identities. London and New York: Methuen.
  • Crocker, J., Garcia, J.A. (2006). Stigma and the social basis of the Self: A synthesis. In Sh. Levin, C. van Laar (eds.) Stigma and group inequality. Psychology Press.287-308.
  • Phinney, J. S., - Ong, A. D. (2007b). Conceptualization and measurement of ethnic identity: Current status and future directions. In: Journal of Counseling Psychology, Vol 54(3), 271– 281.
  • Quintana, S. M. (2007). Racial and ethnic identity: Developmental perspectives and research. In: Journal of Counseling Psychology, 54, 259–270.
  • Shields, S.A.(2008) Gender: an intersectionality perspective. Sex Roles, 59, 301-311. 
  • Worrell, F.C., (2015). Culture as Race/Ethnicity. In McLean, K.C., Syed, M. (2015) (Eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Identity Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.