This volume examines the antecedent conditions necessary for collective guilt to be experienced, methods for measuring this group-based emotion, and how collective guilt differs from other emotions. The political implications of collective guilt and forgiveness for the past are considered, as well as how those might depend on aspects of the national context. Researchers from Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, and the United States address the critical questions of who, when, and why collective guilt is experienced. How collective guilt may be harnessed to create a more peaceful future for groups with a history of intergroup violence is highlighted.
Specifically [the article’s authors] propose that collective guilt in Australia cannot be understood by assumiung that a uniform ideology that can be summarised as neatly as racist, sexist, xenophobic, optimistic, or patriotic is widely shared in Australian society. Rather, there are fault lines within Australian society that reflect social conflict. The social conflict is not so much between racial or ethnic groups, but is about these groups.
In this chapter, we consider the political context and social psychology of collective guilt in Australia and discuss some empirical research on this issue.