Attitudes towards biculturalism in New Zealand: Social dominance and Pakeha attitudes towards the general principles and resource-specific aspects of bicultural policy
Two studies examined Pakeha (New Zealanders of European descent) attitudes towards biculturalism in New Zealand. In Study one, Pakeha who were lower in Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) expressed increased support for an affirmative action policy providing postgraduate scholarships for ethnic minorities only in the absence of material self-interest (i.e., only when they themselves would not be competing for scholarships). In contrast, Pakeha higher in SDO opposed this policy regardless of self-interest. Study two used qualitative responses evoked in the first study to develop a scale distinguishing between attitudes towards (a) biculturalism in principle (general acceptance of a partnership between Maori (the indigenous peoples of New Zealand) and Pakeha as a central aspect of social representations of New Zealand identity) and (b) resource-specific biculturalism (support for policies to redistribute resources in favour of Maori on a categorical basis). In Study two, a majority of Pakeha students supported biculturalism in principle (53% support, 3% opposition) but were opposed to resource-specific biculturalism (3% support, 76% opposition). As expected, SDO moderated this effect. Pakeha low in SDO (and to a lesser extent Right-Wing Authoritarianism) supported biculturalism in principle; however, they were relatively opposed to resource-specific biculturalism regardless of SDO. Consistent with integrated threat theory, we argue that symbolic threats to identity and values must be distinguished from realistic threats to material interests, especially in contexts like New Zealand where biculturalism is part of the national ideology for governance. This distinction is critical for understanding how values, such as group equality, influence perceptions of policy relating to minority-majority group relations.