Social Dominance

An Intergroup Theory of Social Hierarchy and Oppression

Social Dominance
  • By Jim Sidanius

    By Felicia Pratto

  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press

    Online Publication Date:June 2012

    Online ISBN:9781139175043

    Hardback ISBN:9780521622905

    Paperback ISBN:9780521805407

  • Book DOI:

    Subjects: Social Psychology

This book suggests that the major forms in intergroup conflict, such as racism, classism and patriarchy, are essentially derived from the human predisposition to form and maintain hierarchical and group-based systems of social organization. Using social dominance theory, it is presumed that it is also a basic grammar of social power shared by all societies in common. We use social dominance theory in an attempt to identify the elements of this grammar and to understand how these elements interact and reinforce each other to produce and maintain group-based social hierarchy.


"In a time of molecular theories in social psychology, it is inspiring to see a theory of such scope, depth and ambition--a harkening back to the traditions of Weber, Marx, and Durkheim. And like those theories, this one generates insight after insight, offering us the most comprehensibe, satisfying description of power relations that we currently have in the literature. This work has evolved impressively over the years and now occupies a singular position that, I believe, sets a major direction for our field to take." Claude Steele, Stanford University

"A cross-cultural, thorough, and scholarly analysis of the social psychology of power, this book is the most complete statement of the conceptual framework of Sidanius and Pratto's social dominance theory....finely documented, well-researched, timely, and tightly argued study....Recommended for all libraries supporting psychology and sociology programs." Choice

"Something genuinely novel in modern-day social psychology: a comprehensive theory that transcends disciplinary boundaries and levels of analysis...Social Dominance will provoke strong reactions in many, if not most, readers." European Bulletin of Social Psychology

"The authors lead us to question the assumption that discrimination and oppression have been overcome in our own recent history, or that they are manifested only by unenlightened individuals or countries. They provide a lucid, provocative account of the extent to which social dominance and discrimination transcend time and place. A compelling, well-documented account of group dominance processes--how they work, how they are manifested, and why they are so resistant to change. The authors provide evidence to show that group discrimination continues to be omni-present in all aspects of social life, e.g., the workplace, educational institutions, the judicial system, and health care systems. Social Dominance should be 'must' reading for social psychology courses. It takes our thinking of group processes in important, new directions." Daphne Bugental, University of California, Santa Barbara

"This volume by Sidanius and Pratto is a major scholarly accomplishment. Both conceptually and empirically, the book is a synthesis of cross-national,institutional, and individual levels of analysis. Although some of the premises of their social dominance theory will be controversial, the empirical data the authors have compiled are impressive and compelling. This work places the study of intergroup discrimination in a broader context than anything before has done." Marilynn Brewer, The Ohio State University

"Social Dominance is a work of potentially foundational importance for the study of intergroup attitudes, prejudice, racism, and discrimination. Sidanius and Pratto shed new light on the ubiquitous phenomena of group-based social hierarchy and the social psychological and institutional mechanisms that maintain it....There is a great deal of value here for any serious student of social inequality." Lawrence Bobo, Department of Sociology, Harvard University

"Social Dominance represents the most demanding kind of scholarship, and Sidanius and Pratto engage in it with more skill and produce more impressive results than almost anybody. I think that it is an exceptional bit of scholarship." John Petrocik, Department of Political Science, University of Missouri, Columbia

"An original and provocative study of the nature and causes of human oppression. Sidanius and Pratto have refined and pursued the concept of Social Dominance Orientation with analyses that are broad-reaching and carefully crafted. Essential reading for students of racial, ethnic, and gender inequality." Mary R. Jackman, Department of Sociology, University of California, Davis

"Sidanius and Pratto shed new light on the ubiquitous phenomena of group-based social hierarchy and social psychological and institutional mechanisms that maintain it." Lawrence D. Bobo, American Journal Of Sociology