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Human Relations in Interracial Housing

Human Relations in Interracial Housing: A Study of the Contact Hypothesis

Daniel M. Wilner
Rosabelle Price Walkley
Stuart W. Cook
Copyright Date: 1955
Edition: NED - New edition
https://doi.org/10.5749/j.ctttv7jr
Pages: 188
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttv7jr
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  • Book Info
    Human Relations in Interracial Housing
    Book Description:

    No phase of this country’s domestic or foreign relations holds greater potential power for harmony or conflict than our racial attitudes. Yet there is probably no area of social relations in which we have had fewer facts and more assumptions on which to base our thinking and our efforts at constructive action. This sociopsychological study adds considerably to our knowledge of actual racial attitudes in the United States and some of the factors that affect them. The study examines the racial attitudes of people living in public, interracial housing projects in four cities: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Hartford, and Springfield, Massachusetts. Based on interviews with more than 1000 white and Negro residents, it sought information that would help answer such questions as these: What is the effect of Negro-white residential proximity on race relations? Does living nearby reduce or intensify any already existing prejudices? What is the nature of the contacts that develop among members of the two races? The findings show in great detail the effects of residential proximity and suggest the underlying reasons for the role that such proximity plays. They reveal, further, the effects of the contact experience itself and the perception of the social climate in the community regarding such contact. The research forms an important sequel to the investigation reported in the book, Interracial Housing, by Deutsch and Collins, confirming some of the basic findings in the earlier study as well as providing new insights. Psychologists, sociologists, social workers, housing officials, and community leaders will find solid evidence here on a subject that has been sparsely documented up to now.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-3691-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Foreword
    (pp. v-vi)
    Oliver C. Winston

    Public Housing officials in the United States, like many other people, have differed in their views on the social desirability or workability of having white and Negro families live in the same buildings. These different points of view are reflected in the policies and procedures of different city housing authorities, and have resulted in different occupancy patterns in public housing projects.

    In recent years more and more housing authorities have contemplated a change from some form of racialsegregationof tenants tointegration, in which tenants are located within a project regardless of race. Many have actually altered policy in...

  2. Authors’ Introduction
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Daniel M. Wilner, Rosabelle Price Walkley and Stuart W. Cook

    Two aspects of the study reported in the following pages deserve special comment. The first has to do with the difficulties encountered in the study’s early stages; the second, with the cooperation accorded the study staff by several hundred people from many walks of life and located in many different cities.

    As originally conceived, the study was to replicate a previous study* conducted in public housing developments. However, the housing projects of the present study were to have characteristics more nearly representative of housing developments throughout the country than had been the case in the earlier research. The general plan...

  3. CHAPTER I The Problem
    (pp. 3-13)

    Recent years have seen concerted effort in many quarters to reduce the tensions existing between antagonistic ethnic and religious groups. Much of this effort has been concentrated on the understanding and elimination of antagonisms between the Negro and white groups in the United States. The seriousness of problems of prejudice and discrimination needs no further comment here, nor does the urgency of finding effective solutions to these problems.

    One of the solutions most frequently advocated as a step in the reduction of prejudice is the elimination of enforced segregation between Negroes and whites. This step is urged on two general...

  4. CHAPTER II The Present Study
    (pp. 14-26)

    The present study had as its general focus of investigation the effect of proximity between Negroes and whites—and certain concomitants of this proximity—on the attitudes of the white persons toward Negroes. Its aim was to throw additional light on some aspects of the problem which have not yet been thoroughly investigated. In particular, it was designed to parallel (and in one aspect to replicate) the study of Deutsch and Collins, with variations in specific factors which might have an important influence on the attitudinal outcome of the proximity experience.

    Deutsch and Collins, comparing white residents of four low-rent...

  5. CHAPTER III Interracial Contact and Proximity
    (pp. 27-47)

    The purpose of the present chapter is twofold. First, we wish to sketch the relationship between the physical distance separating whites and Negroes and the extent and nature of the contacts taking place between them. We shall rely principally on reports of white tenants concerning the kind of contacts they have with Negroes. Secondly, we wish to sketch the relationship between the distance separating the races and what the housewife sees as the social pressures to include or not to include the Negroes of her immediate surroundings in her everyday activities. Here our evidence will come principally from questions in...

  6. CHAPTER IV Ethnic Attitude and Proximity
    (pp. 48-69)

    It was suggested in Chapter I that prejudice toward an ethnic minority arises relatively rarely from “bad” contacts with members of that minority but rather from the individual’s exposure to society’s prevailing attitudes toward the minority group in question. Ordinarily, an individual is continuously exposed to the same prejudiced environment from which he first absorbed his attitudes. Separation between the races appears to such an individual to be proper because it is supported at every turn by the practices and mores of society. It is a common tendency to believe that what is customary is right; to the prejudiced person...

  7. CHAPTER V Initial Comparability of “Nears” and “Fars”
    (pp. 70-82)

    Throughout the preceding chapters we have made the assumption that “nears” and “fars” were initially comparable and that the observed differences in extent of contact, etc., could be attributed to the influence of proximity. The validity of this assumption is, of course, crucial to the interpretation of findings throughout the study. If more “nears” than “fars” held favorable attitudes toward Negroes and toward interracial association at the time they moved into the projects, current differences between them could not justifiably be interpreted as revealing the effects of living in greater or lesser proximity to Negroes in the project. In this...

  8. CHAPTER VI Relative Influence of Proximity and Initial Attitude
    (pp. 83-96)

    It now becomes possible to provide an answer to a basic question in studies of attitude change. If we grant that change has taken place for at least some respondents living near Negroes, it becomes desirable to ask who has undergone change. Is it only the initially favorable who now simply lose the last vestiges of bias? Or does the experience affect the originally unfavorable as well? Information on this question can be obtained in two ways: (1) by comparing, on each of the dependent variables, the present position of “nears” and “fars” roughly matched on the “index of estimated...

  9. CHAPTER VII Contact, Social Climate, and Attitudes
    (pp. 97-112)

    In the preceding chapters we have demonstrated a series of discrete relationships between proximity, on the one hand, and three sets of variables—contact, social climate, and ethnic attitude—on the other. It now becomes desirable to examine the interrelationships remaining among these three sets of variables when the effects of proximity per se have been eliminated.

    We have, for instance, shown that proximity is related to more intimate contact, and we have shown that proximity is related to more favorable attitudes. We might be tempted to infer that we have already demonstrated that more frequent and more intimate contact...

  10. CHAPTER VIII Impact of Occupancy Pattern
    (pp. 113-128)

    The impact of occupancy pattern on ethnic relations is a question of considerable practical importance since public housing policy is based on the over-all characteristics of a housing project such as integration or segregation and high or low Negro-white ratio.

    The Deutsch and Collins study, which focused on comparisons between projects of different occupancy pattern, found marked differences between the integrated projects and the area-segregated projects on all dependent variables; more of the residents of the integrated projects were favorable on every item. It was predicted that in the present study the differences between the integrated and the building-segregated projects...

  11. CHAPTER IX Factors Obscuring the Effects of Occupancy Pattern
    (pp. 129-141)

    The expectation of differences in contact and attitude between the residents of the projects of the two occupancy-pattern types is based on the same premises as the expectation of such differences between those living “near” and those living “far” from Negroes. Yet in the latter case our hypotheses are strikingly confirmed whereas in the former they are not. How is this to be explained?

    Reconsideration of the logical development of the hypotheses points up the fact that there is one premise which plays a role in determining the occupancy-pattern expectations which does not enter into the “near”-“far” expectations. This is...

  12. CHAPTER X Comparison of Results with the Deutsch and Collins Findings
    (pp. 142-146)

    On all the dependent variables considered—level of contact, perception of social climate, and various attitude components—both the integrated and the building-segregated projects of the present study fell between the extremes found in the integrated and the area-segregated projects of the Deutsch and Collins study. This was expected, since the small proportion of Negroes in the present projects resulted in fewer white residents in the integrated projects living next door to Negroes and since, both functionally and in terms of physical distance, the separation between Negroes and whites in the present building-segregated projects was less sharp than in the...

  13. CHAPTER XI A Brief Summary
    (pp. 147-154)

    In each of the projects studied in the course of this research, approximately 10 per cent of the families were Negro. Two of the projects were characterized by an integrated occupancy pattern and two by a building-segregated pattern. One of the integrated and one of the building-segregated projects were relatively new, located in small cities, had relatively small project populations, and were at a moderate income level. The other two projects were older, in large cities, had large project populations, and were at a low income level. None of the projects was within the metropolitan area of New York City,...

  14. APPENDIX. Review of the Literature
    (pp. 155-161)