Anti-Semitism in Poland and Ukraine: The Belief in Jewish Control as a Mechanism of Scapegoating

  • Michal Bilewicz Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw
  • Ireneusz Krzeminski Institute of Sociology, University of Warsaw

Abstract

Systemic transition in post-communist Eastern Europe resulted in high inflation, rapid economic changes, and increased lack of control in everyday life. At
the same time, anti-Semitic incidents were reported in this region after 1989. The ideological model of scapegoating (Glick 2002; 2005) might serve as
an explanation of anti-Semitic prejudice in post-transition Eastern Europe. The model predicts that the ideology defining Jews as powerful, cunning, and
dangerous would gain popularity in times of crises and would lead to greater discrimination against Jews. In two nationwide representative sample studies
of anti-Semitism, in Poland (n = 1098) and Ukraine (n = 1000), we applied the ideological model of scapegoating to study various forms of anti-Semitism
(conspiracy-based belief in Jewish control and discriminatory intentions toward Jews). In both samples, economic deprivation led to increased discriminatory
intentions toward Jews; however, only in the Polish sample was deprivation linked with higher beliefs in Jewish control (scapegoat-defining ideology). In
Poland the rise of conspiracy beliefs about Jewish control partially explained the effect of deprivation on discriminatory intentions toward Jews. The implications
of these results are discussed.
Published
2010-11-24
Section
Focus: Prejudices and Intergroup Differentiation – Within and Between Cultures