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The Blackwell encyclopedia of race, ethnicity and nationalism
The main idea behind the concept of social distance is that any given social relationship involves elements of “nearness” and “distance.” There is, however, a diversity of ways in which distance is conceptualized as a sociological notion. Most notably, social researchers emphasize the affective (how members of a group feel about “others”), normative (how “us” is distinguished from “them”), interactive (how long and how often people interact with each other) and cultural–habitual (to what extent groups share similar traits) dimensions of social distance. How these different dimensions interact with each other and with other (especially spatial) types of distance is one of the salient areas of research. It is widely noted that, as interactions with “strangers” intensify, norms distinguishing “us” from “them” become increasingly problematic in modern societies, giving way to both more tolerant and xenophobic attitudes. Social distance will remain a significant area of research for contemporary scholars.
Published Version (Please cite this version)https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118663202.wberen547
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