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Perception and Prejudice

Perception and Prejudice: Race and Politics in the United States

Jon Hurwitz
Mark Peffley
Copyright Date: 1998
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Perception and Prejudice
    Book Description:

    Based on one of the most extensive scientific surveys of race ever conducted, this book investigates the relationship between racial perceptions and policy choices in America. The contributors-leading scholars in the fields of public opinion, race relations, and political behavior-clarify and explore images of African-Americans that white Americans hold and the complex ways that racial stereotypes shape modern political debates about such issues as affirmative action, housing, welfare, and crime.The authors make use of the largest national study of public opinion on racial issues in more than a generation-the Race and Politics Study (RPS) conducted by the Survey Research Center at the University of California. The RPS employed methodological improvements made possible by Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing, a technique that enables analysts to combine the internal validity of laboratory experiments with the external validity of probability sampling. Taking full advantage of these research methods, the authors offer highly nuanced analyses of subjects ranging from the sources of racial stereotypes to the racial policy preferences of Democrats and Republicans to the reasons for resistance to affirmative action. Their findings indicate that while crude and explicit forms of racial prejudice may have declined in recent decades, racial stereotypes persist among many whites and exert a powerful influence on the ways they view certain public policies.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14345-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)
    Jon Hurwitz and Mark Peffley

    As one of the nine black children selected initially to integrate Little Rock’s Central High School, Melba Pattillo Beals (1994) has a compelling story to tell inWarriors Don’t Cry—a story that is remarkable in its capacity to remind us of errors that have been made and sins that have been committed. When Beals recounts the events of May 17, 1954, the day the U.S. Supreme Court issued itsBrown v. Board of Education of Topekadecision, she does not remember feeling triumph or celebration; rather, she recalls her seventh-grade teacher dismissing class early so that the children could...

  5. Chapter 2 Prejudice and Politics: An Intellectual Biography of a Research Project
    (pp. 17-34)
    Paul M. Sniderman, Thomas Piazza and Hosea Harvey

    The specific studies presented in this book, each conceived on its own terms, are part of a larger framework on the analysis of prejudice and politics. We want, in this chapter, to call attention to this framework by sketching the intellectual background of the Race and Politics Project and commenting on its deeper-lying analytical themes. We hope, by engaging the classic studies of prejudice and politics, to illuminate three themes at the center of this book as a whole: the recovery of racial prejudice as a problem worthy of study, the inescapably contingent character of political judgments about issues of...

  6. Chapter 3 When White Southerners Converse About Race
    (pp. 35-57)
    James H. Kuklinski and Michael D. Cobb

    Like other authors in this volume, we examine white Americans’ attitudes toward African-Americans. Unlike the other chapters, this one focuses on one region of the country: the South. Whereas the other authors use time-tested, individual-level measures of prejudice and racial attitudes, we employ a new and thus untested methodology that is best suited for group comparisons such as those commonly found in psychology. We seek an answer to one question: How much racial prejudice is there in the South these days?

    Others have asked the same question, of course; as we outline below, there are good reasons to pose it...

  7. Chapter 4 Whites’ Stereotypes of Blacks: Sources and Political Consequences
    (pp. 58-99)
    Mark Peffley and Jon Hurwitz

    Race continues to be a powerfully divisive force in American politics. For the last several decades, racial issues (such as segregation, busing, and affirmative action) have remained on the front burner of the political agenda, polarizing the American electorate and, as a consequence, dramatically affecting voting patterns, partisan alignments, and trust in government (Carmines and Stimson 1989). It seems likely, however, that the power of race to divide Americans is not confined to explicitly racial issues, but extends to other prominent “hot-button” issues like crime and welfare. Although neither issue is explicitly racial in the same fashion as affirmative action...

  8. Chapter 5 When Prejudice Matters: The Impact of Racial Stereotypes on the Racial Policy Preferences of Democrats and Republicans
    (pp. 100-134)
    Edward G. Carmines and Geoffrey C. Layman

    More than any other issue, race has divided the modern Democratic party. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s original New Deal Democratic coalition was successful largely because it brought together large groups of voters—workers, recent European immigrants to the North, and southerners—who had been most adversely affected by the Great Depression and looked to the national government for relief. When substantial numbers of equally desperate but hopeful blacks began voting for Roosevelt in the 1936 presidential election, the party had assembled a truly impressive cross-race, class-oriented electoral coalition (Weiss 1983; Sitkoff 1976; Kirby 1980). But this coalition was inherently unstable because...

  9. Chapter 6 Understanding Whites’ Resistance to Affirmative Action: The Role of Principled Commitments and Racial Prejudice
    (pp. 135-170)
    Laura Stoker

    Affirmative action is an increasingly important and divisive issue in American society, so much so that it has been described by one recent commentator as “a time bomb primed to detonate in the middle of the American political marketplace.”¹ It has figured prominently in numerous political campaigns, most notably Jesse Helms’s 1990 race against Harvey Gantt in North Carolina, and David Duke’s unsuccessful bid for the Senate in 1990. Its salience was heightened by legislative battles surrounding the failed 1990 and successful 1991 Civil Rights Acts, by the confirmation controversy surrounding Clarence Thomas’s nomination to the Supreme Court, and most...

  10. Chapter 7 Racial Attitudes and Race-Neutral Social Policies: White Opposition to Welfare and the Politics of Racial Inequality
    (pp. 171-201)
    Martin Gilens

    In almost every aspect of social and economic well-being, black Americans remain worse off than whites. African-Americans’ median income today is 74 percent that of whites, a feeble improvement of only five percentage points in the past twenty-five years. Racial differences in high school completion rates and achievement scores on standardized tests have narrowed dramatically in the past two decades. But the racial gap in college education remains large, with 26 percent of whites and only 15 percent of blacks completing four years of college. In other areas, racial differences have not narrowed at all. The racial gap in unemployment...

  11. Chapter 8 In Their Own Words: Citizens’ Explanations of Inequality Between the Races
    (pp. 202-232)
    Kathleen Knight

    Racial inequality is generally acknowledged to be a central issue in modern American political life. Although progress in removing barriers to equality between blacks and whites cannot be denied, there are still great areas of inequality. Policy proposals, as prospective solutions to problems about which the government should concern itself, carry implicit assumptions about how the problem came about. Assumptions about the cause of a problem define the range of response options considered (Snyder and Paige 1958; Tversky and Kahneman 1974), and, indeed, the suitability of any government intervention (Schattschneider 1960). Thus, as Sniderman, Piazza, and Harvey argue in Chapter...

  12. Contributors
    (pp. 233-234)
  13. Appendix
    (pp. 235-248)
  14. Index
    (pp. 249-260)