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The Effect of White Social Prejudice on Support for American Democracy

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Abstract

Social prejudice constitutes an unwillingness to associate with individuals whose cultural or racial background differs from one's own group. Such prejudice is a particularly thorny problem in the context of democracy, which requires citizens to minimally respect such differences. In this paper, we assess the relationships between these attitudes and support for democratic institutions. Using World Values Survey data from 1995 to 2011, we find that prejudice toward cultural, ethnic, or racial “others” reduces the value that white Americans assign to democracy. We also find white Americans who exhibit these attitudes are more likely to dismiss the value of separation of powers and are more likely to support army rule. These findings imply that exclusionary rhetoric targeted toward non-white groups is accompanied by lower baseline support for democracy. We close with a discussion of how our analyses inform the study of Americans' attitudes toward democracy

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... Evidence suggests that overt "social prejudice" leads to less support for democracy (Miller & Davis, 2020)-specifically, those who harbor such prejudice are more supportive of a "strong leader" and the potential for military rule, and are less supportive of democratic systems more generally. 1 More than an expression of biological or "old fashioned" racism, racial resentment captures a unique nexus of racial group orientations and political values regarding the scope of government, individualism, and hard work (Kinder & Sanders, 1996). ...
... We have found, through a series of analyses, that the effect of white Americans' electoral (mis)fortune on satisfaction with democracy is moderated by racial resentment. In other words, orientations toward salient social groups, including both affective assessments and perceived violations of American values, are key ingredients of (dis)satisfaction with American democracy as it currently functions (Miller & Davis, 2020). This relationship is robust across several recent presidential elections and examinations of pre-and post-election surveys, as well as panel data, produced supportive evidence for the causal ordering implied by our theory. ...
... Miller and Davis' (2020) measure-which focuses on how comfortable respondents are with members of other races, immigrants, and those who speak a different language as potential neighbors-captures both old fashioned racism, as well as xenophobia.Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved. ...
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Satisfaction with democracy is a critical supporting element of any democratic process, though a robust literature demonstrates that such satisfaction is contingent on numerous personal preferences and situational contexts. Perhaps most disconcerting, satisfaction is highly correlated with electoral (mis)fortune—winner or loser status. We theorize that this connection is moderated by a fundamental group orientation in American politics: racial resentment. Satisfaction with democracy should increase among white electoral losers as racial resentment increases when Republican candidates win and decrease as racial resentment strengthens when Democratic candidates win. In both scenarios, the connection between electoral (mis)fortune and satisfaction are moderated by a perception of whether the political system under the incoming president will be (unfairly) working better for others—black Americans—who are perceived to be less deserving of benefits. We find support for this argument using ANES presidential election data from 2004–2016. These results are robust to examination of only validated votes, panel data support the causal direction our theory posits, and we find that racial resentment uniquely moderates this relationship compared to related potential moderators, like ideological self-identification and racial stereotypes. More than petulance in the face of loss, (dis)satisfaction with democracy is a product of group orientations.
... Whites who express racial resentment-due either to frustrations with growing racial equality or lower levels of education-also express less trust in government and lower evaluations of government (Filindra et al., 2022), which may decrease participation and civic engagement. Racially resentful whites are more likely to be alienated from democratic politics (Gest, 2016;Miller & Davis, 2020), support extreme parties (Gest, 2016), and express skepticism of state action (Kinder & Sanders, 1996). When controlling for white consciousness, whites who expressed higher levels of racial resentment were less likely to participate in the 2012 and 2016 elections (Berry et al., 2019). ...
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Scholarship in American politics finds whites’ racial resentment and status threat predict their vote choice. However, research in social identity indicates that such variables should negatively correlate with participation, attenuating resentful whites’ political power. We resolve this contradiction by studying these variables interactively, using data from the 2012, 2016, and 2020 American National Election Studies. Our primary independent variables are racial resentment and a measure of relative discrimination that captures whites’ perceptions of inequality relative to other racial/ethnic groups. Both constituent variables are negatively associated with participation. Interactively, they are positively associated with political participation. These relationships persist when we predict voter turnout, an index measuring non-electoral participation, and an index measuring civic engagement. In 2012, our interaction term moderates the negative impact of racial resentment in relative discrimination. In elections contested by Donald Trump, our interaction term has a positive substantive effect. Our findings advance scholarship on white political behavior. First, they identify a relationship between whites’ racial attitudes and participation, advancing a research program that primarily examines vote choice. Second, they clarify the relationship between different white racial attitudes. Next, they detail the conditional relationship between whites’ prejudice and politics and how it has changed over time.
... The inclusion of countries from various regions and with different cultures and political systems, however, made the World Values Survey a better choice for this analysis. 4 In particular, army rule is sometimes asked in a different question format as a measure of support for democracy (Magalhaes 2014;Miller and Davis 2020). However, because it was included in the batteryand because it represents a rejection of the liberal principles that underscore virtually any reasonable definition of democracy-we retain it for analysis here. ...
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Allport (1954) recognized that attachment to one's ingroups does not necessarily require hostility toward outgroups. Yet the prevailing approach to the study of ethnocentrism, ingroup bias, and prejudice presumes that ingroup love and outgroup hate are reciprocally related. Findings from both cross-cultural research and laboratory experiments support the alternative view that ingroup identification is independent of negative attitudes toward outgroups and that much ingroup bias and intergroup discrimination is motivated by preferential treatment of ingroup members rather than direct hostility toward outgroup members. Thus to understand the roots of prejudice and discrimination requires first of all a better understanding of the functions that ingroup formation and identification serve for human beings. This article reviews research and theory on the motivations for maintenance of ingroup boundaries and the implications of ingroup boundary protection for intergroup relations, conflict, and conflict prevention.
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The domain of intercultural relations comprises two parallel sets of phenomena: acculturation and ethnic relations. These have usually been studied in isolation from each other, but their intersection is of increasing importance for understanding intercultural relations in plural societies. Although this mutual view of intercultural relations has long been recognised, there has been an imbalance in the research carried out: acculturation studies have been predominantly done with the non-dominant groups, and ethnic attitudes have been studied mainly among dominant populations. Beginning in the 1970s, we began a program of research to redress this imbalance with studies in Canada. We examined the acculturation expectations held by the dominant population with respect to immigrants and ethnocultural groups, using the concept of multicultural ideology; we also examined the ways in which dominant groups change and respond to the presence of such groups using concepts of security (both cultural and economic), tolerance, and ethnic attitudes. More recently, we have developed a research instrument to continue this program. The International Study of Attitudes Towards Immigration and Settlement examines the views of members of various ethnocultural groups in a number of countries. This paper reviews the research framework and some findings from these studies among various members of the larger society. The role of a number of demographic and psychological variables related to attitudes toward the kinds and numbers of immigrants are presented. Some conclusions and implications are then discussed.
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Ethnocentrism—our tendency to partition the human world into in-groups and out-groups—pervades societies around the world. Surprisingly, though, few scholars have explored its role in political life. Donald Kinder and Cindy Kam fill this gap with Us Against Them, their definitive explanation of how ethnocentrism shapes American public opinion. Arguing that humans are broadly predisposed to ethnocentrism, Kinder and Kam explore its impact on our attitudes toward an array of issues, including the war on terror, humanitarian assistance, immigration, the sanctity of marriage, and the reform of social programs. The authors ground their study in previous theories from a wide range of disciplines, establishing a new framework for understanding what ethnocentrism is and how it becomes politically consequential. They also marshal a vast trove of survey evidence to identify the conditions under which ethnocentrism shapes public opinion. While ethnocentrism is widespread in the United States, the authors demonstrate that its political relevance depends on circumstance. Exploring the implications of these findings for political knowledge, cosmopolitanism, and societies outside the United States, Kinder and Kam add a new dimension to our understanding of how democracy functions.
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When news of the O. J. Simpson verdict swept across the United States, a nation stood divided as blacks and whites reacted differently to the decision. Seldom has the racial division that permeates our society come so clearly and prominently into view. Divided by Color supplies the reasons for this division, asserting that racial resentment continues to exist. Despite a parade of recent books optimistically touting the demise of racial hostility in the United States, the authors marshal a wealth of the most current and comprehensive evidence available to prove their case. Kinder and Sanders reveal that racial resentment remains the most powerful determinant of white opinion on such racially charged issues as welfare, affirmative action, school desegregation, and the plight of the inner city. But more than a comprehensive description of American views on race, Divided by Color seeks to explain just why black and white Americans believe what they do. Kinder and Sanders analyze the critical factors that shape people's opinion on race-related issues, uncovering the relative importance of self-interest, group identity, ideological principles, as well as racial animosity. Finally, the authors explore how the racial divide has insinuated itself into the presidential election process and examine the role of political elites in framing racial issues for ordinary citizens. The most accurate and thorough analysis of American attitudes toward race and racial policies undertaken in decades, Divided by Color is destined to become a landmark work on race in America.
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My dissertation considers the role of emotions in Whites’ racial attitudes. I posit that Whites’ contemporary racial prejudice is linked primarily to anger while old-fashioned bigotry is driven primarily by disgust. This considers whether, as Sears, Kinder and their colleagues suggest, racial prejudice has been transformed from old-fashioned bigotry based on social distance and ideas about biological differences between the races into a new and subtle form driven by perceived violations by Blacks of basic American values. This happens, at least for recent generations, because the public debate on race is filled with attributions of blame, certainty and control. Simply experiencing anger (even unrelated to race or politics) should bring racial attitudes closer to the surface in memory. Utilizing a local sample in the Midwest and a nationally representative sample collected through an Internet survey (Polimetrix), I explore whether priming negative emotions boost the impact of various forms of racial and non-racial attitudes: old-fashioned racism, symbolic racism, group conflict and others as well. Understanding the emotional underpinnings of racial attitudes reveals an important insight. The emotional context matters in determining which belief system (racial attitudes or non-racial political ideology) will be applied to Whites’ racial policy opinions and candidate evaluations. Ph.D. Political Science University of Michigan, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/63663/1/adbanks_1.pdf
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Interpretation of regression coefficients is sensitive to the scale of the inputs. One method often used to place input variables on a common scale is to divide each numeric variable by its standard deviation. Here we propose dividing each numeric variable by two times its standard deviation, so that the generic comparison is with inputs equal to the mean +/-1 standard deviation. The resulting coefficients are then directly comparable for untransformed binary predictors. We have implemented the procedure as a function in R. We illustrate the method with two simple analyses that are typical of applied modeling: a linear regression of data from the National Election Study and a multilevel logistic regression of data on the prevalence of rodents in New York City apartments. We recommend our rescaling as a default option--an improvement upon the usual approach of including variables in whatever way they are coded in the data file--so that the magnitudes of coefficients can be directly compared as a matter of routine statistical practice.
The Millennial Generation and the Stagnation of Racial Attitudes in American Politics
  • Stasis
The Rise of Trump, the Fall of Prejudice? Tracking White Americans’ Racial Attitudes
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What Is the Problem? Prejudice as an Attitude-in-Context.” In On the Nature of Prejudice: Fifty Years After Allport
  • Alice H Eagly
  • Amanda B Diekman
  • F John
  • Peter Glick
  • Laurie A Rudman
Symbolic and Modern Racism
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