The political orientation of Blacks and Whites: Converging, diverging, or remaining constant?

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This paper examines the extent to which patterns of public opinion between Blacks and Whites have converged, diverged, or remained constant since the late1970s. It explores how trends in public opinion reflect a decline in the role of race in the formation of pubic opinion. The findings show a slight convergence of public opinion between Blacks and Whites on some issues and stabilization on others depending of the nature of the issue. The data also showed that the magnitude of difference on most issues, other than those related to race, rarely constituted anything more than a gap in public opinion and not a gulf of chasm. The fact that significant differences continue to exist between Blacks’ and Whites’ public opinions suggest that race is still a significant indicator of opinion position.

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... In fact, in its original conceptualization, the underdog thesis was considered a manifestation of selfinterest (Robinson and Bell, 1978). That is, the liberal attitudes of oppressed individuals may be driven by their interest in promoting their own equal status, while the more conservative attitudes of members of privileged groups may be driven by their interest in maintaining the status quo (Bolzendahl and Myers, 2004;Davis, 2005;Kane and Whipkey, 2009). Indeed, early work using non-representative samples suggests that sexual minorities' attitudes may be indistinguishable from those of heterosexuals (Bailey, 1999;Bell and Weinberg, 1978;Connell, 1992;Saghir and Robins, 1973). ...
... The present study also explores possible mechanisms that produce sexual orientation differences in sexuality, race, and gender attitudes, specifically education, religion, and political ideology. Prior research has documented a number of factors that shape Americans' attitudes, particularly with regard to race and gender: group position and group threat, self-interest, contact, exposure, and socialization (Bolzendahl and Myers, 2004;Davis and Greenstein, 2009;Hughes and Tuch, 2003;Kane and Whipkey, 2009). However, since these predictors of attitudes overwhelmingly reflect the lives of heterosexual people, they are less useful for understanding the attitudes of sexual minorities. ...
... However, since these predictors of attitudes overwhelmingly reflect the lives of heterosexual people, they are less useful for understanding the attitudes of sexual minorities. For example, it is unclear whether marriage and one's spouse's work status affects LGB individuals' gender attitudes in the same ways and to the same extent as they do heterosexuals' attitudes (Bolzendahl and Myers, 2004;Davis and Greenstein, 2009). Indeed, this oversight reflects a broader trend in attitudinal research on the predictors of and mechanisms that drive privileged group members' attitudes (Hunt, 2004;Samson, 2012). ...
Researchers have extensively documented sociodemographic predictors of race and gender attitudes, and the mechanisms through which such attitudes are formed and change. Despite its growing recognition as an important status characteristic, sexual orientation has received little attention as a predictor of Americans' race and gender attitudes. Using nationally representative data from the American National Election Survey 2012 Time Series Study, I compare heterosexuals' and lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people's attitudes about sexuality, race, and gender. For most attitudes, LGB people hold significantly more liberal attitudes about sexuality, race, and gender than do heterosexuals, even upon controlling for other powerful sociodemographic predictors of social attitudes. However, a substantial proportion of these sexual orientation gaps in attitudes – especially about race and gender – are explained by LGB people's relatively liberal political ideology. The findings provide evidence for the necessity of incorporating sexual orientation in future assessments of Americans' social and political attitudes.
... The second perspective-what might be called the "spurious/social convergence" thesis-contends that the racial gap in opinions is not enduring but will narrow to the extent that African Americans come to share similar social characteristics with White Americans who tend to support capital punishment. Davis (2005) argues that there is the need to continually monitor racial divisions in public opinion as African Americans socially and economically assimilate into the mainstream of America. Continual assessments are needed to determine whether there is a "declining significance of race" (Wilson 1980). ...
... Continual assessments are needed to determine whether there is a "declining significance of race" (Wilson 1980). Davis (2005) contends that some convergence can be expected because the social and economic success of African Americans partly depends on their ability to inculcate the dominant group's beliefs, values, and opinions. Notably, others have argued (e.g.; Hagan and Albonetti 1982) that perceptions of injustice are determined by structural locations other than race, with class being a primary contextual determinant. ...
... These elaborations might want to explore how this historical lens shapes the interpretations of African Americans as they witness contemporary instances of criminal injustice such as the beating of Rodney King and African American inmates being exonerated from death row . This research can also shed light on the reasons why the potential ameliorating effects of political, social, and economic gains have had a negligible impact on the racial divide in public support for the death penalty but have narrowed it in relation to other policies such as social welfare expenditures (Davis 2005). Lastly, such research may address why potential social convergence effects, such as political orientation, differentially influence African Americans and Whites. ...
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This project investigates the racial divide in support for capital punishment. The authors examine whether race has a direct effect on support for capital punishment and test whether the influence of race varies across class, being a native southerner, confidence in government officials, political orientation, and religious affiliation. Using data drawn from the General Social Survey, they find a substantial racial divide, with African Americans much less likely to support the death penalty. Furthermore, the analysis revealed little support for the “spurious/social convergence” hypothesis; shared factors that might be expected to bring African Americans and Whites together—class, confidence in government, conservative politics, regional location, and religious fundamentalism—either did not narrow African American-White punishment attitudes or, at best, had only modest effects. The Results suggest that the racial divide in support for capital punishment is likely to remain a point of symbolic contention in African American-White conceptions of criminal injustice in the United States.
... 28) and a number of scholars who have examined this issue agree (e.g. Davis, 2005;Kinder and Winter 2001;Smith and Seltzer, 2000). They assert that black-white differences in public opinion matters dealing with race are unmatched by any other type of cleavage based on a social status characteristic (e.g. ...
... Race is one of the strongest predictors of support of capital punishment (Bohm, 1991;Cochran and Chamlin, 2006;Unnever and Cullen, 2007b) and the racial cleavage on this issue has been shown to persist over long periods of time (Borg, 1997;Anderson, 1990Anderson, , 1994. Davis (2005) shows that the black-white difference in death penalty support is greater than any other black-white difference in a public opinion issue that is not explicitly and overtly about race. Since death penalty support is, at best, an issue in which race is a "covert" or "implicit" issue rather than "overt" and "explicit" (see Kinder and Sanders, 1996; page 29) explanations that rely on perceptions of the advancement of individual interests are less satisfying. ...
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This paper evaluates four racial‐ecological theories regarding the historically enduring racial divide in public opinion regarding death penalty support. Using geo‐coded data from the 20th century, this research examines the relative representation of African Americans, the level of black‐white economic inequality, and the extent of racial residential segregation on race‐specific odds of supporting the death penalty. The research finds support for aspects of racial social context accounting for a portion of the black-white gap in death penalty support at the time. We find differential effects, by race, of representation and segregation as mediators of public opinion regarding the death penalty.
... The question remains, however, whether interracial contact has a positive or negative influence on whites' views about crime. That question assumes particular salience not only because of arguments about the racialization of crime but also because of persistent racial divides among social networks in American society (McPherson et al. 2001;Davis 2005). ...
... Building off of the above observations, we develop several hypotheses aimed at investigating whether a link between interracial contact and whites' views about crime exists. The focus is restricted to hypotheses about whites' views, given the theoretical logic underlying these hypotheses and the fact that prior research suggests that the meaning and effect of blacks' experiences of interracial contact may differ from that of whites' (Sigelman and Welch 1993;Powers and Ellison 1995;Pettigrew 1998;Davis 2005). We also examine whether any identified effect of interracial contact varies when the focus is on local versus national crime or when it occurs in urban areas. ...
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In recent decades, crime has emerged as a prominent policy focus nationally. Accordingly, a large literature on public views about crime has developed, one strand of which highlights the racialization of crime as a factor central to public opinion and policy discourse. Drawing on this work and studies on the effects of interracial contact, the authors seek to advance theory and research on public opinion about crime.To this end, they draw on data from an ABC News and Washington Post poll to test competing hypotheses about the effects of interracial friendship among Whites on concern about local and national crime. The results suggest that interracial contact increases concern about crime among urban Whites.The authors discuss the implications of these findings for theory, research, and policy.
... SDO justifies the system for the high-status gender by decreasing their ambivalence, but SDO has the opposite effect for women, the lower-status gender (Jost & Burgess, 2000). Whites, who are high-status among ethnicities, likewise score higher on SDO, tolerate inequality, endorse hierarchy-maintaining ideologies, and are more conservative than Blacks (Davis, 2005; Fang, Sidanius, & Pratto, 1998; Sidanius, Levin, Federico, & Pratto, 2001). Income and status also correlate positively with SDO and conservative ideologies (e.g., meta-analysis of various dominant-subordinate societal groups reports d 5 .15, Lee et al., 2011; cf. ...
Twenty-first century intergroup biases are more automatic, ambivalent, and ambiguous than were old-fashioned biases such as authoritarianism and overt racism, which overtly expressed intergroup hostility. Beyond traditional self-report measures of ethnocentrism and hostile sexism, current measures tap more subtle manifestations of bias. Social dominance orientation assesses beliefs about the desirability of group hierarchies and predicts social attitudes such as ethnocentrism. The stereotype content model maps societal groups' stereotypes, based on perceived social structure, predicting emotional prejudices and discriminatory tendencies. Recent racism measures tap modern policy-related attitude configurations, relatively automatic associations between groups and evaluations, and indirect indicators of intergroup attitudes. Current sexism scales assess modern versions oriented toward policies and an ambivalent version separating benevolence and hostility. Ageism scales measure both modern beliefs and prescriptive ambivalence toward older people. Current measures are less direct than earlier ones, consistent with 21st century patterns.
... Whites and high-income Americans tend to espouse individualistic and conservative views, emphasizing the role individuals play in their own success, and that unregulated market processes produce optimal outcomes. Consequently, high-status individuals also tend to oppose inequality-ameliorating policies, such as income assistance to poor people or policies targeted at Blacks (Bobo & Kluegel, 1993;Davis, 2005;Feldman, 1988;Kinder & Winter, 2001;Kluegel & Smith, 1986;Sanchez, Goodin, Rouse, & Santos, 2010). People from subordinate groups-non-Whites and people who have low incomes-tend to value equality and support policies that lessen inequalities in income and social status. ...
Using a survey of Ohio and Indiana residents, we analyze the extent to which public support for school vouchers and school finance reform is structured by the same socioeconomic interests and values (equality, humanitarianism, individualism, and limited government) as is public support for contentious welfare policies. Disadvantaged individuals and individuals who live in disadvantaged communities are more likely to support vouchers but social status has a more ambiguous influence on support for finance reform. Values cannot explain the effect of social status on support for these education policies, but they exert independent effects. We speculate that disadvantaged individuals are more likely to see vouchers as in their interests than are advantaged individuals because voucher advocates have allied themselves with social movements and organizations representing clear constituencies (religious conservatives, low-income urban parents). On the other hand, we suggest that finance reform is more of an abstract issue because its advocates have mostly concentrated on intragovernmental litigation, and thus cleavages based on social status tend to be more obscured.
... As the higher -status group, Whites generally endorse hierarchy -maintaining ideologies more than Blacks do, a reliable -enough finding to be termed the ideological asymmetry effect (Fang, Sidanius, & Pratto, 1998 Levin, Federico, & Pratto, 2001). Whites generally are more conservative than Blacks; Whites persistently tend to tolerate inequality, disapprove government social spending, disfavor poverty programs, and favor the death penalty (Davis, 2005). Conservative ideology predicts specific beliefs about who deserves what, which in turn predicts opposition to compensatory polices such as affirmative action for Blacks (although not for women: Reyna, Henry, Korfmacher, & Tucker, 2006). ...
Why is support for marijuana legalization among African Americans notably modest given that such a policy would drastically reduce the number of African Americans arrested annually for nonviolent drug offenses? In this article I assess whether the urban frustration argument is an adequate explanation for Blacks’ generally low levels of support for marijuana legalization. I analyzed merged Supplemental Homicide Report and Drug Arrest data and General Social Survey data to determine the extent to which race-specific murder victimization rates and race-specific drug arrest rates in U.S. cities are predictive of support for marijuana legalization among Blacks and Whites between 1990 and 2000. Findings indicate that Blacks’ level of support for marijuana legalization is greatest in those cities with the highest Black drug arrest rates. Consequently, these findings provide no support for the urban frustration argument.
To estimate correlations for scores on a student anti-intellectualism scale with scores on a measure of political conservatism, 235 students were given a survey containing a student anti-intellectualism scale, a political conservatism scale, and a demographics questionnaire identifying the participants' sex, college classification, ethnicity, political party affiliation, and self-described political ideology. The political conservatism scale contained two factors, Religiosity and Economic Conservatism, both of which were scored separately in addition to an overall Conservatism score. Students' Anti-intellectualism scores were correlated with Political Conservatism scores (r = .37, p < .01), with Religiosity scores (r = .42, p < .01), and with Economic Conservatism scores (r = .17, p < .05). An analysis of variance indicated a significant difference in students' Anti-intellectualism scores based on college classification (F4,233 = 2.27, p < .04). Specifically, freshman had significantly higher scores than graduate students.
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Using federal court data collected by the U.S. Sentencing Commission for the years 1993-1996, this study examines racial/ethnic differences-white versus black versus white-Hispanic versus black-Hispanic-in sentencing outcomes and criteria under the federal sentencing guidelines. Regression analyses of incarceration and term-length decisions reveal considerable judicial consistency in the use of sentencing criteria for all defendants; however, important racial/ethnic disparities in sentencing emerge. Consistent with theoretical hypotheses, the authors find that ethnicity has a small to moderate effect on sentencing outcomes that favors white defendants and penalizes Hispanic defendants; black defendants are in an intermediate position. Hispanic drug offenders are most at risk of receiving the harshest penalties, and their harsher treatment is most pronounced in prosecutor-controlled guidelines departure cases. These findings highlight both a classic organizational tension noted by Weber and a fundamental dilemma in policy efforts to structure sentencing processes (formal rationality) while allowing for judicial and prosecutorial discretion (substantive rationality). The findings also broaden our view of the continuing significance of race in American society-as a matter confronting not only blacks but also Hispanics and perhaps other ethnic groups as well.
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Studies of public opinion on affirmative action have focused heavily on the views of White Americans. Two contending schools of thought tend to concur that Whites generally oppose affirmative action, but sharply disagree over whether the hostility to affirmative action rests on cherished American values of individualism or on anti-Black racism. This article questions both perspectives and the assumptions about public opinion that they share. It is important to examine the views of Whites and of racial minority group members and to recognize that group interests play an important part in the politics of affirmative action. The analysis focuses on beliefs about the effects of affirmative action. The results point to real but far from irreconcilable race-based differences in opinion, a clear dependence of Whites' views on perceived threats from Blacks, and no influence of individualism on Whites' beliefs about the effects of affirmative action. The research suggests ways of moving beyond the political stalemate of opposing claims to moral virtue in the debate over affirmative action.
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The literature describing ideological orientations of Americans is complex and enigmatic. It is largely organized around two, seemingly incompatible theories. Much of the controversy pertains to people in the highest stratum. The “class polarization” thesis describes them as economically conservative. The “class inversion” thesis maintains they are liberal. The debate is highly influenced by the choice of definitions and indicators. Most prior research fails to distinguish between types of strata (class and status) and between different types of liberal-conservative beliefs. This paper shows seemingly contradictory theories can be made compatible by basing one theory on class and the other on status. Pooled data from the 1976, 1980, and 1984 NES surveys is used to estimate the effects of class and status on attitudes toward general welfare and aid to minorities. Controls are provided for race, party identification, and type of occupation. Together class and status provide a more comprehensive explanation of issue positions than does either concept alone. However, the variables explain only a small proportion of the ideological division between Republicans and Democrats.
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In this study, we integrate research findings on the impact of exposure to stereotype reinforcing local crime news with theories about the impact of residential context on attitudes about race and crime. To date, there has been no research investigating whether neighborhood context mitigates or exacerbates the impact of exposure to racially stereotypic crime news. We test extensions of two competing theories. According to the social contact hypothesis, under certain circumstances whites’ residential proximity to blacks might reduce the likelihood of further negative effects via exposure to racially stereotypic media messages. On the other hand, according to the group threat hypothesis, proximity to blacks might increase whites’ sensitivity to stereotype-reinforcing crime news. We collected information about the neighborhood racial context for each respondent in an experiment. We then exposed respondents either to racially stereotypic or non-stereotypic crime stories on local news programs. Results support our prediction based on the social contact hypothesis. When exposed to racial stereotypes in the news, white respondents living in white homogeneous neighborhoods endorsed more punitive policies to address crime, expressed more negative stereotypic evaluations of blacks, and felt more distant from blacks as a group. Whites from more mixed neighborhoods were either unaffected or moved in the opposite direction: endorsing less punitive crime policies, less negative stereotypes, and feeling closer to blacks as a group as a result of exposure to the stereotypic coverage. The implication of this moderating impact of residential integration is discussed.
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More than a decade ago, we (Thomas and Hughes 1986) demonstrated that the subjective well-being of African Americans in the United States was significantly and consistently lower than that for whites over the 14-year period from 1972 to 1985. Since then, evidence has accumulated on several important dimensions of well-being that African Americans fare as well as or better than whites, suggesting a change in the pattern observed for nearly 40 years. Using data from the General Social Survey (GSS) for the period 1972 to 1996, we show that quality of life continues to be worse for African Americans than it is for whites, although anemia and mistrust have increased a little more rapidly in recent years for whites than for blacks. Racial disparities in quality of life do not vary by and are not explained by socioeconomic status. Although racial inequality appears to be the primary cause of these differences, the exact processes producing them are as yet unknown.
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This article examines patterns of black and white support for abortion from 1972 to 1980. The findings reveal that black-white differences are present on the abortion issue. Many of the differences are due to the different demographic characteristics of blacks and whites and the greater degree of religiosity of blacks.
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Although Combs and Welch reported a trend of decreasing racial difference in abortion attitudes, Hall and Ferree used data from the 1982 General Social Survey to argue that racial difference were not declining. This paper updates this debate through the 1988 General Social Survey and concludes that racial differences have indeed declined over time. Morever, when new religious items introduced in the 1984 survey are included in the multivariate analysis, blacks are not significantly different from whites in their support of legal abortion. This finding obscures a more intersting pattern, however, of offsetting, statistically significant racial differences among respondents of the same gender—black men are significantly less supportive of a abortion than white men, and black women are significantly more supportive than white women.
Using national samples, this article compares the attitudes of Blacks and Whites on the Supreme Court's school prayer rulings. In each of three separate investigations (1974, 1977, and 1982), Blacks were less supportive of the court's antischool prayer rulings. The differences persist even when the greater religiosity and lower socioeconomic status of Blacks are taken into account. (Author/JDH)
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Using the 1980 census to employ a two-stage estimation procedure in which county-group level estimates of minority employment disadvantage are derived from individual-level data, this research empirically assesses the race, ethnic, and space dimensions to black and Hispanic employment. Results show that a pervasive black disadvantage in employment exists that does not vary greatly by region of the country or between central city and suburban or rural areas. In only several areas is the black disadvantage near zero. By contrast, the labor force behavior of Hispanic males is often quite close to the rates reported by whites, once basic demographics have been considered. The pervasiveness of the black employment disadvantage and its striking contrast with Hispanic joblessness suggests that race and ethnicity play a key role in employment outcomes.
We use a cognitive schema-based approach to model an African-American racial belief system, showing the content of racial belief systems in a national sample to be associated with the individual's degree of socioeconomic status, religiosity, and exposure to black media. We find that African-Americans with a higher socioeconomic status are less supportive of black political autonomy and that they feel themselves more distant from black masses and black elites than do those of lower socioeconomic status. Religiosity, while unrelated to black autonomy, strengthens closeness of black masses and black elites. Black television--and, to a much lesser degree, black print media--had a consistent impact on the racial belief system. We conclude by discussing the complexity of the African-American racial belief system and potential directions for future work.
Within the context of William Wilson's "declining significance of race" thesis, this study uses data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to examine differences in the income gap among two cohorts of males through the early stages of their work careers in middle-class jobs during the periods 1975-82 and 1985-92. Findings indicate that the racial gap is structured in a manner that is contrary to predictions from the Wilson thesis. In particular, the gap increases over the seven-year period for both cohorts. Further, the gap is particularly pronounced among the more recent cohort. Specifically, it is larger at the outset of the seven-year period and increases more between 1985 and 1992 than between 1975 and 1982. Specific cohort and period effects that explain the racial differences in income are discussed, and directions for future research are identified. /// [Spanish] En el contexto de la tesis sobre la disminución de la importancia de raza de William Wilson, este estudio utiliza información del Panel Study of Income Dynamics para examinar las diferencias en la brecha del ingreso entre dos cohortes de hombres a través de las primeras etapas de sus trabajos profesionales en trabajos de media clase durante los períodos 1975-1982 y 1985-1992. Los resultados indican que la brecha racial está estructurada en una forma que es contraria a las predicciones de la tesis de Wilson. En particular, la brecha se incrementa en el período de los siete años para ambos cohortes. Además, la brecha se profundiza en el cohorte más reciente. Especialmente, se incrementa al inicio del período de los siete años y se incrementa aún más entre 1985-1992 que entre 1975-1982. Se discute el cohorte específico y los efectos de los períodos que explican las diferencias raciales en los ingresos, así también se identifican algunas direcciones para una futura investigación. /// [Chinese] (Unicode for Chinese abstract). /// [Japanese] (Unicode for Japanese abstract).
The contact hypothesis suggests that interracial contact promotes harmonious racial relations. Previous tests of this hypothesis are dated and tend to deal with overt old-fashioned racism rather than subtle racism. The contact hypothesis is tested within residential settings and religious institutions. Residential integration does not appear to alter the racial attitudes of white respondents toward African-Americans. Yet after basic demographic controls, whites who attend interracial churches exhibit less social distance toward African-Americans and have a lower tendency to stereotype blacks. Interracial religious groups may lessen the development of racial myths and encourage more harmonious primary relationships between whites and blacks. /// [Spanish] La hipótesis de "relasionarse con" sugiere que el contacto interracial promueve relaciones raciales armoniosas. Las pruebas anteriores de esta hipótesis muestran ser anticuadas y tratan de ocuparse de un racismo abierto en lugar de un racismo sutil. La hipótesis de "relacionarse con" se ha puesto a prueba en escenarios residenciales e instituciones religiosas. La integración religiosa parece que no altera las actitudes radicales de los participantes blancos en relación a los afro-americanos. Aún después de controles demográficos básicos, los blancos que frecuentan iglesias interraciales muestran una menor distancia social hacia los afroamericanos y tienen una menor tendencia para estereotipar a los negros. Es posible que los grupos religiosos interraciales disminuyan el desarrollo de los mitos raciales y fomenten unas relaciones primarias más armoniosas entre blancos y negros. /// [Chinese] (Unicode for Chinese abstract). /// [Japanese] (Unicode for Japanese abstract).
Black and white Americans disagree consistently and often substantially in their views on national policy. This racial divide is most pronounced on policies that intrude conspicuously on the fortunes of blacks and whites, but it is also apparent on a wide array of social welfare issues where race is less obviously in play. Our analysis takes up the question of why blacks and whites differ so markedly, distinguishing among four alternative interpretations: one centers attention on underlying differences of class, another on political principles, a third on social identity, and the fourth on audience. Our results are complicated but coherent. We discuss their implications for the meaning of group interest, speculate on the conditions under which the racial divide might close (or widen) in the foreseeable future, and suggest why we should not wish racial differences in opinion to disappear.
This paper examines racial differences in political conceptualization from 1956 to 1980. The following results emerge: (1) no evidence of significant racial differences at the less abstract levels of conceptualization; (2) increasing racial differences in group benefit conceptualization in the 1960s and 1970s; and (3) a relatively constant preponderance of whites at the ideologue level of conceptualization. Racial differences generally persist under controls for education, generational cohort, involvement, and partisanship. Among blacks, group benefit conceptualization is linked to the presence of racial identification.
Integrated schools may still be substantively segregated if friendships fall within race. Drawing on contact theory, this study tests whether school organization affects friendship segregation in a national sample of adolescent friendship networks. The results show that friendship segregation peaks in moderately heterogeneous schools but declines at the highest heterogeneity levels. As suggested by contact theory, in schools where extracurricular activities are integrated, grades tightly bound friendship, and races mix within tracks, friendship segregation is less pronounced. The generally positive relation between heterogeneity and friendship segregation suggests that integration strategies built on concentrating minorities in large schools may accentuate friendship segregation.
Clear and consistent differences between blacks‘ and whites’ attitudes toward environmental issues were found in a stratified random sample survey of 2,012 Florida preadults. Blacks were much less likely than whites to consider environmental quality a serious problem worthy of community concern, to favor environmental goals, and to define pollution in complex terms; regression analysis showed that these differences persisted even when factors thought to explain racial differences in attitudes—SES, years of education, exposure to information, actual and perceived pollution levels, sense of efficacy—were taken into account. Evidence suggests that even among children, racial differences in attitudes are not spurious, but indicate a divergence between the black and white subcultures in interpretations of public issues
Trends in the political orientations of blacks and whites from 1960 to 1973 are examined to determine if racial positions have increasingly diverged as the Kerner Commission warned they might. The evidence suggests a mixed pattern. Continuing but not diverging large-scale differences in political goals are found. Black political mobilization is seen to be increasing, as well as black/white differences in partisan and electorial behaviors. Widely different evaluations of black political movements are maintained. Political distrust is found to be both widespread and growing, especially among blacks.
American support for the death penalty has steadily increased since 1966, when opponents outnumbered supporters, and now in the mid-1990s is at a near record high. Research over the last 20 years has tended to confirm the hypothesis that most people's death penalty attitudes (pro or con) are based on emotion rather than information or rational argument. People feel strongly about the death penalty, know little about it, and feel no need to know more. Factual information (e.g., about deterrence and discrimination) is generally irrelevant to people's attitudes, and they are aware that this is so. Support for the death penalty has risen for most major felonies. Youth is seen as much less of a mitigating factor than it was 35 years ago, but most people still oppose the execution of the mentally retarded. As crime rates have risen despite repeated promises by politicians to “get tough on crime,” the death penalty has become an increasingly prominent issue in electoral politics, suggesting that public opinion should be an issue of central importance for research. We suggest that future research should focus more explicitly on racial attitudes, on comparisons of the death penalty with specific alternatives, and on the emotional aspects of attitudes toward the death penalty.
We examine the major tenets and assumptions of the well-known contact theory of prejudice, and we compare them with the more cynical reasoning implied by the infamous “Some of my best friends are black, but…” expression. After assessing the extant evidence for the contact theory, we use a unique set of national survey data to address the central postulates of that theory. We examine the racial beliefs, feelings, social dispositions, and policy views of whites who have contact with blacks as friends, acquaintances, or neighbors. Our results suggest that personal interracial contact is selective in its effects on whites' racial attitudes, that intimacy is less important than variety of contacts, and that any effects are contingent on the relative socioeconomic status of black contacts. On the basis of our analysis, we reassess the contact theory and propose a more political conception of the attitudes of dominant groups toward subordinates. We argue that the message contained in the relationship between personal contact with subordinates and intergroup attitudes is less benign than is suggested by the contact theory.
Reviews research regarding the effects of intergroup contact on ethnic relations. The investigations discussed include both intra- and cross-cultural studies involving contact between various ethnic groups. The principles and generalizations emerging from these studies are categorized under (1) opportunities for contact, (2) the principle of equal status, (3) contact with high-status representatives of a minority group, (4) cooperative and competitive factors, (5) casual vs. intimate contact, (6) institutional support, (7) personality factors, and (8) direction and intensity of initial attitude. The major generalization derived from the present review is that changes in ethnic relations do occur following intergroup contact, but the nature of this change is not necessarily in the anticipated direction; "favorable" conditions do tend to reduce prejudice, but "unfavorable" conditions may increase intergroup tension and prejudice. Ethnic attitudes may also change in their intensity, and they may be limited to specific areas of the ethnic attitude and not be generalized to other aspects of the intergroup relationships. Some practical applications are also considered. (2 p. ref.)
Public opinion surveys since 1965 find that black respondents are less in favor of legal abortion than white respondents. Using the 1982 NORC General Social Survey, we replicate and expand one of the few studies (Combs and Welch, 1982) that examined the structure and determinants of prochoice attitudes of blacks and whites. Our major findings are (1) the racial difference in prochoice attitude is as great in 1982 as in the 1970s, (2) contrary to the suggestion of Combs and Welch, the demographic and attitudinal determinants of abortion attitudes differ for blacks and for whites, and (3) for those respondents who differentiate their acceptance of legal abortion, the pattern of prochoice attitudes also differs by race.
International migration of people is a momentous and complex phenomenon. Research on its causes and consequences, requires sufficient data. While some datasets are available, the nature of migration complicates their scientific use. Virtually no existing dataset captures international migration trajectories. To alleviate these difficulties, we suggest: (i) the international coordination of data collection methodologies and standardization of immigrant identifiers; (ii) a longitudinal approach to data collection; (iii) the inclusion of adequate information about relevant characteristics of migrants, including retrospective information, in surveys; (iv) minimal anonymization; (v) immigrant boosters in existing surveys; (vi) the use of modern technologies and facilitation of data service centers; and (vii) making data access a priority of data collection.
Slowly coming to grips with the effects of the American racial order on American policy preferences
  • M Dawson
Dawson, M. (2000). Slowly coming to grips with the effects of the American racial order on American policy preferences. In D. O. Sears, J. Sidanius, & L. Bobo (Eds.), Racialized politics. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Fifty years after Myrdal: Blacks racial policy attitudes in the 1990s
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Tuch, S., Sigelman, L., & Martin, J. K. (1997). Fifty years after Myrdal: Blacks racial policy attitudes in the 1990s. In S. Tuch & J. Martin (Eds.), Racial attitudes in the 1990s: continuity and change. Connecticut: Praeger.
Black political attitudes and behavior in the 1990s
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Parent, Wayne, & Stekler, Paul. (1995). Black political attitudes and behavior in the 1990s. In Perry Huey & Parent Wayne (Eds.), Blacks and the American political system. University Press of Florida [chapter 3].
Trends in black racial attitudes
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Contemporary controversies and the American racial divide Ethnicity and sentencing outcomes in the U.S. federal courts: who is punished more harshly?
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  • R Seltzer
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Melting Pot Suburbs: A Census 2000 Study of Suburban Diversity. The Brooking Institution: Census 2000 Series Where you live and what you watch: the impact of racial proximity and local television news on attitudes about race and crime
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