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Scapegoating refers to a process of projecting blame or guilt onto a “goat” (e.g., person, animal, inanimate object, or out-group), which is then banished, thereby allowing one to “escape” blame or guilt. The term derives from the biblical story of Aaron, who casts the sins of the Israelites onto a goat and sends it into the wilderness so that the goat, rather than the Israelites, bears the punishment for the sins. In contemporary scholarship, the concept of the scapegoat has been used to explain group behavior as well as political behavior. After further describing the biblical scapegoat, this entry explores the use of the scapegoat thesis in explaining group behavior; then the entry discusses its use in attempts by nations or interest groups within a ...

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