- This sense of collective victimhood can be associated with the feeling that the recognition of their victimhood is insufficient, especially compared with other groups, who they perceive as benefitting from more recognition than they do;
- When this feeling is associated with the belief that their group’s lack of recognition is due to the greater recognition granted to another group, it tends to induce negative attitudes towards this other group, even though this group was not responsible for the initial victimizing events.
- Our paper does not show that claims for victimhood recognition are widespread among minorities – i.e. that minorities keep on complaining. We only addressed the sense of collective victimhood in two minority groups in Belgium. Both samples were not representative so that we cannot claim anything about the real average levels of collective victimhood among these two populations, let alone other minorities in other societal contexts, such as the USA. We were interested in social psychological processes, which we outlined by exploring associations between variables (sense of collective victimhood, lack of victimhood recognition, attribution of this lack of recognition to another group, negative attitudes towards this outgroup). The three studies confirmed our theoretical assumptions.
- Our paper does not show that all claims for recognition of collective victimhood from minorities are fake, nor that they are illegitimate – i.e. that minorities instrumentalize their victimhood. On the contrary, most of the time, claims for collective victimhood recognition are expressed by members of minorities that really went through intentional harm from one or more outgroups. In our sense, claims for victimhood recognition should be taken seriously.
- Our paper does not suggest that authorities should simply disregard minorities’ claims for collective victimhood recognition. On the contrary, inspired by Axel Honneth’s approach of the struggle for recognition, we believe that authorities should be able to value and recognize the diverse constituents of the societies or institutions they govern. Failing to do so only heightens the struggle for recognition, leading to more conflicts. However, authorities should pay attention to the way they manage their politics of recognition – especially when collective victimhood recognition is at stake – because perceived inequality in the granting of recognition can trigger a sense of injustice, which may fuel conflicts among minorities, and distrust towards these authorities.
3 August 2017