How National Identity is Formed in Frustration and Alienation by Employing the Scapegoat Mechanism


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Political & Governmental Studies


Groups in close proximity are likely to be groups in conflict. A group that possesses a social identity that varies from another, whether in a subtle or obvious manner, poses a potential threat. While different cultures can coexist, they do not fuse into a single entity that incorporates social equality. In South Africa citizens and foreigners might be neighbors but there are varying levels of tension; socialization is limited and insufficient to prevent these neighbors from becoming targets when there is conflict. According to the ideological model of scapegoating, economic changes and rapid social change create confusion within communities, which then respond by interpreting these developments and considering a violent solution. Within a given cultural context the interpretation of events, though wrong, might not necessarily be irrational, as communities revert back to the source of their knowledge to understand causality and justify their actions. Leadership is therefore central to the interpretation of events and the creation of national identity.