Racial composition and racial threat : the anatomy of contemporary racism


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Racial composition and racial threat : the anatomy of contemporary racism
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x, 184 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Horn, Randolph Claiborne
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Racism -- History -- United States -- 20th century   ( lcsh )
Race relations -- History -- United States -- 20th century   ( lcsh )
Political Science thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Political Science -- UF
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1993.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 177-183).
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by Randolph Claiborne Horn.

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Copyright 1993


Randolph C. Horn


I wish to express my gratitude to some of those who

helped make this dissertation possible. A complete catalogue of all who have inspired, assisted, cajoled, or otherwise pushed me into action is not possible. Let me try to thank a few of you.

I am indebted to the members of my doctoral committee

for their helpful comments at various stages of this project. To Peggy Conway, I must express particular gratitude for her encouragement, criticism, inspiration, and administrative heavy lifting.

I owe special gratitude to my family. My parents have inspired me through their dedication to service. my wife, Frannie, has provided unwavering support and timely distractions, both of which were essential for the completion of this project.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................... :iii

LIST OF TABLES ...............................................vi

LIST OF FIGURES o........ ............. .......viii

ABSTRACT ........... .... ............ ....................ix

CHAPTER 1 ....................................................1

INTRODUCTION .................. .......... ....... ... 1
Recent Trends in the Study of Prejudice................... 1
Perceptions of Threat.................................2
Symbolic Racism ....................................... 4

CHAPTER 2 ............... ..... .. ...... .. .... ...... 10

Foundations........................... ..... 11
The Contemporary Significance of Race at the Macro
Level ....................................................15
Aggregate Analyses....................................... 19
Individual Analyses ................................24
Reconciliation....... ... .... .......... ..... 32

CHAPTER 3 ..................... .......o.o.. .. ...... 36

Symbolic Politics in a Nutshell....................... 37
Theoretical Underpinnings of Symbolic Racism............. 39
Newness or Distinctiveness from Old Fashioned Racism..... 42 Combination or Multi-dimensionality ..... ........ 45
Abstraction vs. Self Interest.............................47
Methods and Measurement.................................. 49
Self Interest: The Alternative Hypothesis................ 53
Data..................................................... 58

CHAPTER 4 ................................................... 61

SYNTHESIS ................................................... 61
Multi-dimensionality ...................................... 63
Defining the Nature of Interests ....................... 71
Synthesis ...................... .... ........ ............73


Context and the Changing Meaning of Racial
Composition ........................................... 75
The Archaic Significance of Racial Composition ........... 83

CHAPTER 5 .................................................. 89

DATA ....................................................... 89
Data ..................................................... 89
Dependent variables ....................................... 91
Contextual Variables ..................................... 95
1980 Census ........................................... 96
1900 and 1940 Censuses ................................ 98
Endogenous variables .................................... 104

CHAPTER 6 ................................................. 107

Procedures .............................................. 107
Models Explaining the origins of Racial Attitudes ....... 111 Racial Attitudes and Other Political orientations ....... 121

CHAPTER 7 ................................................. 134

REGIONAL ANALYSIS ......................................... 134
Southern Models of Racial Attitudes ..................... 135
Northern Models of Racial Attitudes ..................... 140
Regional Differences in Attitudinal Unity ............... 146

CHAPTER 8 ................................................. 152

CONCLUSIONS: FARTHER ALONG ................................ 152
Racial Threat ........................................... 152
Symbolic Racism ......................................... 154
The Synthetic Theoretical Position ...................... 155
Assessing the Derived Racial Threat Hypotheses .......... 157 Derived Symbolic Racism Hypotheses: ..................... 160
Synthetic Hypotheses: ................................... 162
Conclusions ............................................. 165

APPENDIX .................................................. 172
Racial Threat scale items: .............................. 172
Symbolic Racism scale items: ............................ 173
Coding of other items: .................................. 174
Data Derived from the Census ............................ 175

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ....................................... 184



Table 5-1. T-test for race of interviewer bias on
whites .................................................. 93

Table 5-2. Factor analysis for racial items among
whites with white interviewers .......................... 94

Table 5-3. Black Concentration in 1900, 1940, and 1980
and the levels of Perceived Racial Threat and Symbolic
Racism in 1986 for white Respondents only ............... 102

Table 6-1. Symbolic Racism Regressed on Contextual and
Individual Level Variables for White Respondents
only .................................................... 112

Table 6-2. Perceived Racial Threat Scale Regressed on
Contextual and Individual Level Variables for whites
only .................................................... 118

Table 6-3. Regression of Evaluation of Candidate and
Group objects on Racial Attitudes for White
Respondents only ........................................ 123

Table 6-4. Logistic Regression of Decreased Federal
spending on Racial Attitudes for White Respondents
Only .................................................... 129

Table 7-1. Symbolic Racism Regressed on Contextual and
Individual Level Variables for White Southern
Respondents Only ........................................ 136

Table 7-2. Perceived Racial Threat Scale Regressed on
Contextual and Individual Level Variables for White
Southerners Only ........................................ 139

Table 7-3. Symbolic Racism Regressed on Contextual and
Individual Level Variables for White Northern
Respondents Only ........................................ 141

Table 7-4. Perceived Racial Threat Scale Regressed on
Contextual and Individual Level Variables for White
Northerners Only ........................................ 143

Table 7-5. Standard deviation of Symbolic Racism
Regressed on Contextual Variables in Each County ........ 147


Table 7-6. Standard Deviation of Perceived Racial
Threat Regressed on Contextual Variables in Each
County .................................................. 149



Figure 4-1. Matrix of racial attitudes ................... 65

Figure 4-2. Quadratic function with increasing slope ..... 78 Figure 4-3. Parabolic quadratic function ................. 80

Figure 4-4. Quadratic function with gradual decay ........ 82


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate
School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of
the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Randolph Claiborne Horn

December, 1993

Chairman: M. Margaret Conway Major Department: Political Science

While the use of thinly veiled racial issues in recent elections serves as a reminder of the salience of race in American politics, scholars disagree about the causes and effects of white racial attitudes. The proponents of symbolic racism and group conflict approaches have engaged in a debate over which single approach best explains racism. This dissertation demonstrates that symbolic attitudes and perceptions of racial threat occupy different dimensions in the construction of white racial attitudes. Racial attitudes do not exist in a vacuum; the components and the effects of those attitudes are tempered by historical factors and the contemporary racial context. Further, each dimension has a differential impact on political behavior.

This project combines composition data from the 1900,

1940, and 1980 censuses with survey data taken from the 1986


American National Election Studies (ANES) to assess the influence of racial composition and other contextual variables on perceptions of racial threat and symbolic racial attitudes. These orientations, in turn, are used to predict issue positions and evaluations of candidates.

The analysis are conducted on two levels. First, the general hypotheses of interest are tested at the national level. Factor analysis confirms that the two racial attitudes occupy different dimensions. However, both perceptions of threat and symbolic racism are influenced by contextual measures like the local percentage black. The racial measures differ in their ability to predict issue positions or evaluations of groups or candidates; perception of threat is a better predictor of candidate and group evaluations, while symbolic racism is a consistent predictor of federal spending preferences. A second level of analysis applies the same techniques to compare the South with other regions; the same factors which explain differences in racial attitudes between the regions do not explain marginal differences within the South. The dissertation demonstrates empirically the importance of local history and political culture in explaining contemporary political and racial orientation.


Contemporary studies of white racial prejudice have

tended to concentrate exclusively on one of two factors in explaining racial attitudes. Proponents of the racial threat explanation look to contemporary demographic and economic conditions, while proponents of symbolic explanations argue that values learned early in life explain current levels of prejudice independent of the individual's current demographic or economic context. This dissertation makes a case for augmentation and synthesis of these two schools. It is argued that individuals may simultaneously hold more than one kind of racial orientation. Further, racial attitudes are not only the product of either psychological traits or the current economic context. Rather, racial attitudes result from both of these factors and are conditioned by local historical and cultural conditions.

Recent Trends in the Study of Preiudice

Events in recent years have spelled disaster for the hard fought gains of the civil rights movement. Supreme

Racial threat may be defined as the belief on the part of whites that black ascendance reduces the chances of white success in competition for jobs, admissions to schools or other areas of achievement; it may also represent fears on the part of whites that blacks pose challenge the security of whites' persons or property.



Court decisions have made it easier to discriminate and have whittled away at affirmative action programs. Extremist groups, such as those led by Tom Metzger and manned by skin heads, seem on the rise. Indeed, the number of hate groups nation-wide increased 27% between 1990 and 1991. (Southern Poverty Law Center 1992) The qualified electoral success of

David Duke in Louisiana seems to scare everyone, except of course his supporters.

while these events point to an increasingly engaged white backlash, other events seem to offer contradictory signals. Douglas Wilder was elected Governor of Virginia--a feat which required substantial white support. Throughout

America the number of African-American elected officials has been increasing steadily since 1970, largely through the efforts of black candidates and voters. (Joint Center for Political Studies 1988)

Perceptions of Threat

What explains these seemingly contradictory trends? One starting point is the white mind. Both Wilder and Duke have been supported by white voters. This support may spring from the same pattern of racial orientation. The notion of racial threat is exemplified by whites who feel that their jobs, admission to schools, or lifestyles are in jeopardy because

of African-American advances. More generally, one may define the perception of racial threat as the belief on the part of whites that blacks:


1) as a class or as individuals may detract from whites,
economic well being by providing competition for
jobs that would otherwise go to whites;

2) present challenges to physical well being (i.e. that
criminal activity engaged in by blacks will endanger
their persons or property); or that

3) present a serious challenge to whites' political
standing (e.g. that black officials or officials
elected by blacks will wrest control of the ship of
state from whites and use the state apparatus to the
disadvantage of whites).

Perhaps low levels of perceived racial threat allowed some Virginia whites to vote for Wilder. Similarly, high levels of perceived racial threat fueled support for Duke in Louisiana. Studies by Hertzog (1991) and Giles and Buckner (1993) support this notion by finding a relationship between local racial composition and support for candidates at the district level. These studies echo the findings of earlier scholars (Key 1949, Blalock 1957, Allport 1954, Pettigrew 1959, and Giles 1977).

While both Hertzog (1991) and Giles and Buckner (1993)

claim the relationship between racial composition and support for these candidates is a function of racial threat, they are unable to substantiate this because they lack individuallevel data; they do not demonstrate that whites actually feel threatened. While from a behavioral standpoint it is only necessary to demonstrate that individuals perceive a threat (or feel threatened), the position adopted by Giles and Buckner and others posits that the material interests of whites actually are threatened; the necessity of this contention is assessed in the next chapter. using


individual-level data to construct a racial threat scale would facilitate the study of the relationship between perception of racial threat and political behavior. A number of other studies support the salience of white perceptions of racial threat and the effects of local racial composition. (Fossett and Kiecolt 1989, Giles and Evans 1985, 1986)

The difficulty encountered by those who hold theoretical stock in the racial threat concept is understandable. Relatively few of the national surveys contain items that would allow measurement of such a notion. Still, the 1986 American National Election Study (ANES) contains an extensive battery of racially oriented questions. Many of these items may be used to measure perceptions of racial threat. (See the Appendix for actual text and marginals). The theoretical ground staked out by the proponents of the racial threat framework may be measured, surveyed or tested with individual level survey data which is widely available.

Symbolic Racism

Despite a number of papers indicating the salience of

perceptions of racial threat and local racial composition in influencing white attitudes and voting behavior, the lion's share of research on white racial attitudes has situated itself in the symbolic racism paradigm (Kinder and Rhodebeck 1982, Kinder and Sears 1981, 1985, McConahay 1982, McConahay and Hough 1976, Sears, Hensler, and Speer 1979). These


authors share a common perspective based on a few simple premises. First, the changes wrought in America in the 1950s and 1960s have changed the nature of racial attitudes held by most Americans. It is no longer socially acceptable to hold openly racist positions, especially positions based on segregation or white supremacy. So, old fashioned racism, defined as the belief in segregationist values, cannot be advocated openly.

The second premise maintains that racism has a new form of expression. Whites now use their adherence to traditional, conservative values to legitimize anti-black positions. This allows them to explain prejudicial feelings and beliefs in terms of acceptable ideological stances. The use of these values is independent of the individual's demographic or economic context. In other words, one's class or location and proximity to blacks have no effect on one's racial attitudes.

This orientation is commonly termed 'symbolic racism,, a combination of anti-black affect and traditional values which (according to its proponents) has replaced the old racism rooted in segregationist values (Kinder and Sears 1981). According to Kinder and Sears, symbolic racism refers to a sense of disdain for those who fail to adhere to the Protestant work ethic and thus seek handouts, lack thrift or punctuality, fail to repress sexual urges or delay gratification to work for distant goals. A symbolic racist is likely to blame the victims of past injustice by saying


that if they just tried harder they could 'succeed on their own like the Italians, Irish and Jews did.' Kinder and Sears call this sort of racism symbolic because it is abstract, based on ideological positions and attitudes rather than experience. They argue that perceptions of threat and actual vulnerability are ineffectual predictors of behavior while symbolic measures excel.

Despite the growing literature on symbolic racism, more research is needed to refine our understanding. While these perspectives have drawn some criticism, chiefly from Sniderman and his co-authors, important elements of the theory have not been tested. Further, the elements that have been tested use local samples which might yield results with little external validity, or validity only if we throw out the South. Additionally, insufficient effort has been made to test the symbolic racism theses against racial threat hypotheses. There are exceptions to be sure. (Green and Cowden 1992, Kinder and Sears 1981, Sears, Lau, Tyler and Allen 1980) The theory and measurement of this school of thought are treated in detail in chapter three.


One need not choose sides in such a debate, for there is no a Priori reason to suspect that the two attitudes are mutually exclusive. The proponents of symbolic racism theory may be correct in asserting that an abstract sense of prejudice is held by many whites, but many may feel


threatened as well. Indeed, the two orientations may exist independently of each other in the same individual. These constructs may reflect different dimensions of contemporary racial attitudes. Individuals may evince high levels of symbolic prejudice, or feel racially threatened, or some combination of the two.

Similarly, one need not buy the entire theoretical package of either camp. For example, one might easily disagree with racial threat theorists who maintain that the cause of racial conflict is the incompatibility of the interests of whites and blacks. A political economist could probably demonstrate that black ascendance poses little threat to most whites. what is important from the behavioral perspective is the perception of conflict or threat. Still, the material context can influence the perception of threat.

For example, Green and Cowden's (1992) finding that

respondents with children who would be bused were more likely to protest the busing plan in Boston implies that the perceptions of threat may influence behavior dramatically, even if it does not influence one's tendency to articulate symbolically racist responses to survey questions. From this literature, one may gather that the perception of threat and symbolic racism may each have an independent force in influencing different kinds of positions on issues and evaluative behaviors. Rather than trying to supplant one perspective with another, the argument presented emphasizes recognizing the possibility that the two perspectives


represent different dimensions of racial attitudes among whites.

Further, one may argue that current racial attitudes, be they the result of perceived racial threat or symbolic racism, are not merely either the result of current demographic conditions or isolated psychological traits. Indeed, both may factor into the equation. If the current material context can influence an individual's racial attitudes, couldn't the cultural context have an influence as well?

In Chapter Four, a synthetic theoretical position is staked out which allows for the simultaneous influence of personal characteristics, contemporary material context and local cultural factors. Chapter Five addresses measurement issues and issues related to multi-dimensional racial attitudes. National level models predicting the racial attitudes and their effects are presented in Chapter Six. Chapter Seven explores regional variations in the sources of prejudice. A review of the central findings and the conclusions are found in the final chapter.

Before ending this introductory chapter a cautionary note concerning the motives of the author is in order.

The purpose of this project lies not in finding more ways to brand people as racists. Rather, the goal of this research lies in seeking a better understanding of the anatomy of prejudicial attitudes. These prejudicial attitudes may or may not have implications for political life


in America; likely as not, they do. It is instructive to recall R. K. Merton's conception of the relationship between prejudice and discrimination (1957). In a nutshell, Merton pointed out that the two concepts represented different dimensions; imagine a contingency table with prejudice on one axis and discrimination on the other. It is possible, Merton

hypothesized, that one can be highly prejudiced and not discriminate, never acting on that prejudice. Similarly, nonprejudiced individuals may engage in discriminatory activities.

At times provocative expressions are used. For example, the expression (not originated by this author) symbolic

racism carries some unnecessary shock value. The expression is really a misnomer, for the concept refers to a particular

theory of prejudice and need not carry the pejorative implications of racism. Branding people as racists may have few positive results, like kicking the dog. Nonetheless, this term is used in this research because it is used by other scholars in the field.

This study provides neither apology for nor an

admonition of prejudice per se. Rather, the author hopes to provide insights into the causes and effects of racial

prejudice. It is hoped that the development of a more sophisticated understanding of prejudice may contribute to

the amelioration of social conditions which have ill effects for whites and blacks alike; if we are to defeat the forces of ignorance and prejudice, we must first understand them.


The claims of some scholars that control of the symbols of the race debate represents the central struggle of American politics (Omi and Winant, 1986) may be somewhat over stated. Still, race seems to represent a fundamental cleavage in American society. Even thirty years after the heyday of the civil rights movement, the United states continues to be a highly segregated society. This social and geographic segregation has implications for the political sphere as well. Race or race baiting continues to be used as a trump card in elections throughout the nation. To be sure, the race card is not always effective, but in many contests it continues to be decisive.

The role of race in the literature of political science is not unified by a common theoretical orientation, unit of analysis, or methodology. Two important albeit divergent streams are easily identifiable. The first tends to focus on the effects of race at some level of aggregation. Scholars in this stream may examine the effect of race or the local racial composition on party systems, class differences or tendencies within an electorate in particular contexts or environments. The second stream addresses the psychology of racial attitudes in individuals, apart from any specific



context. This second stream will be taken up in Chapter Three.

In this chapter, two examples of the first school will be examined in some detail. The first is a classic with a regional focus, and the second an important contemporary effort which explores the significance of race for electoral and party politics nationally. This will be followed by a close examination of the current work in this school which uses aggregate and individual level data. While there are some notable debates among the proponents of this general area of scholarship, the similarities deserve more emphasis than the points of disagreement.


V. 0. Key's (1949) analysis in Southern Politics is

typical of the first and older line of argument. Key argued that understanding the role of race was essential to understanding Southern politics (p. 5). The means through which blacks were socially and politically subjugated thwarted the political articulation of class differences among whites. In particular, the one-party system common throughout the region prevented the empowerment of both blacks and poor whites through the political arena. Blacks were excluded from the system altogether. Extra-legal sanctions against those who sought change were severe. Blacks who braved those sanctions faced a maze of legal


obstacles to participation, including poll taxes and literacy tests.

Poor whites were stymied by the one party system in two ways. First, the barriers designed to exclude blacks from participation if.evenly applied would have also excluded many whites. Key dismisses the effects of legal barriers to white participation. This view is upheld by Harold Stanley's analysis of participation patterns since the revocation of those barriers (Stanley 1987; for contrary views see Kousser 1974; and Rusk and Stucker 1978). More important, according to Key, were other factors: low education, a lock by elites on real power, the punishment of dissenters, the obfuscation of factions caused by the one party system and race baiting. Indeed,

[t]he presence of the black provides a ready instrument for the destruction of tendencies toward class division
among the whites. The specter of Reconstruction, of Negro government can still be used to quell incipient
rebellion by discontented whites. (Key 1949, p. 655)

Key paints a picture of the South in which Democratic single-party rule operated to the benefit of upper class whites, planters and industrialists. Cheap black labor was exploited and blacks had little opportunity to participate in the political arena. Poor whites (rednecks, peckerwoods and peckerheads) enjoyed a similarly degraded position. They farmed inferior lands and had little hope for meaningful participation. Poor whites who did join the fray met with stiff retribution or faced near impossible odds in the


pursuit of their goals. The solidarity of elites within the Democratic party stifled class-based or populist efforts to address the agenda of the have-nots, be they white or black. The one-party south and the techniques of control used by its elites proved effective in preventing the development of class based alliances between blacks and poor whites.

In addition to this basic set of relationships, Key stresses the importance of the local racial composition. Recall Key's statement that, "[w]hatever phase of the southern political process one seeks to understand, sooner or later the trail of inquiry leads to the Negro.- (p. 5) The desire on the part of whites to control blacks is greatest, so the argument goes, in the those areas in which blacks make up a larger proportion of the population, namely the blackbelt. Planters sought to maintain the system which provided cheap labor for their estates. whites outside the black-belt were, hence, less concerned about the maintenance of white supremacy. So, it was in the black belt that the subjugation of blacks and the enforcement of a unified front on the race question by white elites was most effective. In some states, Key uses maps to demonstrate the strong correlation between those counties with more than 50% black and strong support for particular candidates and high levels of turnout. The political impact of the local racial composition was potent.

While this description bears some resemblance to the

broad view of Key's canvas, there were of course variations. Some populists, like "Big Jim" Folsom in Alabama, enjoyed


tremendous success. In some elections, outcomes had more to do with the county from which the candidate hailed than his platform or the black population. Still, as a rule the analysis is compelling.

This analysis makes much of the differences in the

interests and attitudes between poor whites on one hand and the planters and industrialists on the other. Indeed, Key makes much of the claims of the "haves" that race relations was a problem for the backward rednecks. Despite their divergent interests and claims, the trigger mechanism of their racial attitudes was often the same. Both groups thought they had something to lose from black ascendance. Planters were concerned about the loss of cheap labor which threatened their economic well-being and losing control of the state government through which they maintained their advantaged position. Key's argument implies that whites outside the black-belt had less to lose from black ascendance and even felt less threatened than other whites. Still, these whites were sensitive to race-baiting. This sensitivity grew out of the fear of a return to the poverty and degradation of the Reconstruction era. Key takes great pains to indicate that these poor whites acted in a way that was contrary to their class interests because, among other things, they feared black ascendance.

Some may argue that the usefulness of Key's work has faded as a result of the remarkable changes that have occurred in the South and the nation since its publication.


For example, even before Key started the project, dependence on cheap black labor began decreasing as a result of mechanization and lessened dependence on mono-culture (McAdam 1982). The civil rights movement has changed the face of racial politics. Electoral barriers have largely been erased. Not only have blacks earned the vote, but they have used it to make government and its policies more

representative. Reapportionment has changed the balance of power in state governments away from rural bourbons. Key (1949) himself pointed out the rapid migration of blacks out of the South.

Despite the changes, Key provides useful insights into

the mechanisms of politics generally. At the very least, Key's work provides a useful starting place for political

analysis. often his theses are upheld. For example, Stanley (1987) endorses Key's estimate that the relaxation of voting restriction would have a negligible effect on white turnout. This hypothesis is upheld by many subsequent studies (e.g. Allport 1954; Blalock 1957; Pettigrew 1957; Wilcox and Roof 1978)

The Contempgrary Significance of Race at the Macro Level

Key's analysis of the effect of race on the class

composition of the Democratic party has not fared as well in the changed environment. The threat (real or imaginary) posed by black ascendance was used as a mechanism for maintaining the one party system. This system forced lower


class whites into an unnatural coalition with upper class whites while excluding blacks altogether. After the civil rights movement, black allegiance to the Democratic party became almost universal. Now the perception of racial threats is the basis for another unnatural combination of classes in not merely the Southern party system but the national party system (Huckfeldt and Kohfeld 1989). According to Huckfeldt and Kohfeld's argument, the Democratic party plays host to middle and lower class blacks and upper middle and upper class white liberals. The Republican party combines socially conservative working class whites with rich, economically conservative whites.

The crux of Huckfeldt and Kohfeld's argument is that the nature of this unnatural coalition undervalues the contribution of blacks since their Democratic votes are taken for granted by both parties. If the parties had to compete for their votes then, the argument goes, blacks would be better represented because more elected officials would have to be more responsive. Further, such diversity could produce more stable, class based coalitions in the two major parties.

The conclusions drawn from this argument are provocative and in some way reinforce the importance of the project at hand. But a keener focus on some of the interior elements of the argument provide helpful insights. Huckfeldt and Kohfeld argue that the current coalitions are uncomfortable for a number of reasons. First, they affirm that the ideological base of American politics has shifted, that the labor-


management dichotomy no longer represents the sole axis of ideological placement. New left issues such as environmental concerns and social change issues (e.g. feminism, gay rights, etc.) don't fit on the old continuum and represent a different dimension.1 So, the Democratic coalition of the New Deal era is complicated by the addition of a new ideological dimension, and old-style labor liberals find they have less and less in common with new-left-lifestyle liberals.

The influx of black voters into the Democratic party after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 has further complicated the task of coalition building in the

party system. In particular, working class whites have become less supportive of the party. When one confronts this issue in terms of electoral coalitions, it becomes clear that the inclusion of blacks displaces working class whites disproportionately. In other words, the larger the

proportion blacks voters comprise of the Democratic vote, the smaller the proportion of whites in that same Democratic electorate. This would seems merely tautological but for the

fact that the reduction in the white contribution (in terms of Democratic votes) comes disproportionately from the

It should be noted that while Huckfeldt and Kohfeld
identify the salience of the changing landscape of American ideological orientations, they distance themselves from those
who would couch those changes in terms of the development of "post-material values." Indeed, they demonstrate many of the shortcoming of post-materialist theory.


working class. Indeed, there is a strong inverse relationship.

So, according to Huckfeldt and Kohfeld (1989), middle class and Working class blacks make strange Democratic bedfellows with new left upper class whites and some residue of the working class whites who do not convert or demobilize. The Republican coalition is similarly uncomfortable with its combination of upper class fiscal conservatives and working class whites. The authors also provide anecdotal data of the splintering effects of race in particular contests. Again the assumption concerning the "unnaturalness" of the coalitions lies in the class differences between the various groups.

Theoretically, working class whites and working class blacks have compatible material interests. Similarly, according to Huckfeldt and Kohfeld (1989), middle class whites and blacks are presumed to have the same material interests. Still, working class whites tend to flee the Democratic column in inverse proportions to black contributions to that column, even though it is in their material interest to pursue like policies and candidates. They flee because rightly or wrongly they feel as though their interests are incompatible. They flee because they feel that black politicians or politicians whose agenda gains obvious black supports pose some threat if elected.

Despite the potent effect race can have on electoral

coalitions, the argument put forth by Huckfeldt and Kohfeld


does not indicate that race must always have an effect. Indeed, by pointing to a specific contest in which race baiting was particularly effective, one is pushed to recognize that race baiting is less effective in other contests or was not employed at all.

Aggregate Analyses

Huckfeldt and Kohfeld (1989) identify the macro level relationship and pose potential solutions for the disequilibrium afflicting the party system. They do not, nor do they claim to, nail down the operative mechanism driving the white flight from the Democratic coalition. some recent papers have added support to this line of inquiry.

Two analyses of recent elections shed some light on the aggregate effects of local racial composition in electoral contests. First, Hertzog (1991) made creative use of county level returns in his analysis of African-American Douglas Wilder's 1989 election as governor of Virginia. At first it seems counter intuitive that the first elected black governor would come from a Southern state, especially the Southern state with the lowest percentage of black population of all Southern states. Hertzog's (1991) analysis, influenced by Key (1949), argues that this low percentage black actually facilitated Wilder's success. He presents compelling evidence to substantiate an inverse relationship between the percentage of African-Americans and the proportion of the white vote falling in Wilder's column.


of course, many other factors contributed to Wilder's success (Jones and Clemons 1993). wilder, the former Lieutenant Governor, had risen through a series of influential Virginia offices, so there were no doubts about his qualifications. He was endorsed by many prominent Democratic leaders in the state. Wilder's reputation and campaign statements placed him clearly as a "social moderate and a fiscal conservative" (Jones and Clemons 1993, p. 140). Wilder's pro-choice stance allowed him to benefit from the urgency lent the abortion issue by the U.S. Supreme Court's 1989 Webster decision. Wilder was perceived as tough on crime and most thought his opponent responsible for negative campaigning. Jones and Clemons (1993) claim that Wilder intentionally distanced himself from the black community and from racial issues, running what they term a 'deracialized, campaign.

The traditionally perceived relationship between racial composition and racial attitudes and white political behavior is born out by Hertzog's (1991) analysis. Of course, the percent black does not automatically determine victory in electoral contest. Much more is at play. In the Wilder case, one sees a highly qualified moderate Democrat running a professional campaign, endorsed by important 'pols', on the popular side of a divisive issue, and intentionally deemphasizing race. Wilder's performance was optimal. still the pattern of white support remains. Hertzog (1991) argues that those whites living in areas with fewer blacks felt less


threatened and could more easily cast their votes for the candidate they preferred for some reason other than race. Those who felt threatened had more difficulty in casting a vote for Wilder, other things being equal.

Of course, Hertzog (1991) is not able to substantiate the intervening variable, or mechanism, of threat without individual level data. It is entirely possible that the relationship he observes, albeit a strong one, is spurious. It is possible, but unlikely, that any other unmeasured demographic or social characteristic would correlate well enough with racial composition to produce such a pronounced effect. Indeed, Wilder's extremely narrow victory, despite wider margins in opinion polls, implies the importance of latent prejudices of which individuals were loath to speak.

Other scholars bring a similar sort of analysis to bear on a most different case. Giles and Buckner (1993) examined the pattern of support for David Duke in the 1990 Louisiana race for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Duke, widely perceived a racist, ran as a Republican and found himself in a run-off with Bennett Johnston, a Democrat. Duke, former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, has been characterized by some as a purveyor of thinly veiled racist jingoism. Less benevolent observers call him an overt racist. Duke tends to deny that he is a racist, saying he has changed since his days with the Klan. Still he does consider himself an advocate for white people's rights; he even founded an organization called the National Association for the Advancement of White People


(NAAWP). There is little doubt about the racial content of Duke's appeal.

Giles and Buckner's (1993) findings are consistent with those of Hertzog. They find a strong relationship between local racial composition and the level of white support for Duke2. Hertzog's estimates of white support for Wilder were complicated by that candidate's significant black support. Giles and Buckner assume that Duke garnered a negligible number of black votes. This reasonable assumption allows them to more fully examine the central relationship and to

introduce important controls in a multivariate analysis.

Despite the fact that they have only aggregate level

data, Giles and Buckner (1993) include a number of controls by including census data at the SMSA and parish level. These controls provide a convenient opportunity to assess the current impact of theoretically important variables from earlier work. Included as controls are two measures of social status, median white income and the percentage whites with a high school education. Additionally, the percent of whites unemployed, the percent living in urban areas, the percent of white immigration, and the percentage of the population coming of age after 1961 are also included.

Even with all these controls, their measure of racial composition proves efficacious in predicting both the
2 Operationally, Giles and Buckner use the percentage of all registered voters who are listed as black. They argue that this better represents the threat to white political hegemony than a population based figure. Of course, the two figures are so highly correlated that it makes no difference in the analysis.


percentage of registered whites voting for Duke and the percentage of eligible whites voting for Duke. Further, the direction of some of the significant controls lends support to the notion that the mechanism generating Duke's support is related to perception of threat. For example, median income is negatively correlated with Duke support, indicating that the most economically vulnerable localities were more likely to support Duke. The percentage of whites unemployed was significant and positive in the equation predicting the percentage of eligible whites voting for Duke. This implies that Duke's appeal was strong and had the effect of mobilizing voters who were particularly vulnerable and most likely to feel threatened by black ascendance. Urbanization and immigration had the expected ameliorative effects.

While both Hertzog (1991) and Giles and Buckner (1993) demonstrate support for the relationship between threat and candidate support in the aggregate and Giles and Buckner (1993) find some support that implies that threat is one of the mechanisms driving this relationship, both studies suffer from limitations imposed by their data. There is only so much one can learn from even the creative use of aggregate level data. Individual level data are required to establish the nature of the mechanism driving the behavior recognized by these scholars.


Individual Analyses

Despite the well-developed literature linking the size of minority populations and various measure of racial inequality, there are only a few studies using survey data which seek substantiate the connection between local racial

composition and the attitudes and behaviors of individuals. Really, only a handful of recent studies have systematically confronted the assumptions emanating from the aggregate literature discussed above (Fossett and Kiecolt 1989; Giles and Evans 1985, 1986; and Giles 1977). All of these studies performed secondary analysis of nationally sampled data collected by the two main academic research centers, the General Social Survey (GSS) conducted by National Opinion Research Center (NORC) and the American National Election Studies (ANES) by the Institute for Social Research (ISR). Despite the obvious attraction of testing hypotheses with a nationally drawn sample, the use of such data is not without

costs. Finding valid measures for the theoretical concepts of interest usually proves difficult and is often impossible. The creative operationalizations used by Giles and Evans and Fossett and Kiecolt represent serious, if not altogether successful, attempts to overcome the limitations imposed by the data. Though none satisfactorily address the intervening threat mechanism, they do merit discussion. A brief discussion of these recent studies follows. Three of


the four studies find support for the threat hypothesis (Giles 1977; Giles and Evans 1986; and Fossett and Kiecolt 1989). Giles and Evans's 1985 analysis marks the only exception.

The Giles (1977) study attempts to analyze the effect of racial composition on racial intolerance or hostility. using data from the 1972 ANES, Giles constructed a racial attitude score for each respondent. The six questions used to construct the scale covered a wide range of topics related to race including the federal government's role in guaranteeing equal opportunity, the federal government's role in overseeing school desegregation, the role of "the government in assuring equal access to public accommodations, the pace of the civil rights push, the trade off between whites, right to maintain segregated neighborhoods and blacks, right to live where they wish, and whether the respondent favors desegregation, strict segregation or something in between. He found that the expected relationship held, but only for respondents in the South. The regional differences may have been attributable, in part, to the heightened sensitivity of Southerners at the time to federally mandated desegregation programs; mandated desegregation of northern schools, for example, did not come until later. Half the items in the scale address the role of the government in mandating civil rights reforms. Of course, even this heightened sensitivity on the part of Southerners would follow from their greater sense of threat from the government and ascendant blacks.


Unfortunately, he was not able to tap perceived threat directly. Still, his findings support the notion that the perception of a threat is an intervening step between the context, individual attributes and political attitudes and behaviors. In this case, the articulation of intolerance provides an additional clue of the existence of perceived threat at the individual level.

The Giles and Evans study of 1985 uses data from the

1972 ANES and marks a departure from the earlier findings in two ways. First, they find what is on first appearances a viable measure of threat. In that study, respondents were asked if they thought the civil rights people were pushing too fast, too slow, or at the right pace. Additionally, they were asked if black people had too much, too little or the right amount of influence (See the Appendix for actual text). These two items were combined to make an additive scale of threat. So, respondents who thought the movement was going too fast and thought blacks had too much influence scored highest on the threat scale.

The second way in which this study marks a departure from previous ones lies in its findings. Giles and Evans (1985) argue that there is no significant relationship between local racial composition (percentage black) and perceived threat. Additionally, this non-relationship holds up even when regional differences are accounted for. This would seems to represent a chink in the armor of the proponents of the threat hypothesis. But appearances can be


deceiving. The Giles and Evans (1985) finding should not be accepted uncritically. Later efforts, discussed below, revealed shortcomings in their modeling procedures. still, they served the academy by stimulating discussion of this issue.

Additionally, Giles and Evans (1985) established a

relationship between the respondent's racial attitudes and his or her level of identification with white people as a group; the more hostile the respondents were, the greater their attachment to whites. In other words, the sense of racial polarization was evident not only in terms of people's positions on about the civil rights people, or black people, but also in terms of how they saw themselves. Similarly, those who identified British ancestry, as opposed to those who identified no specific ethnic heritage, felt warmer toward white people. So, identification with whites as a reference groups was enhanced by both the Giles and Evans (1985) racial threat scale and by identification with some other group, in this case the British. One caveat about these findings is in order. Giles and Evans (1985) did not include controls for region in the model estimating attachment to whites. This may present a significant source of bias if a greater proportion of Southerners trace their ancestry to Britain than do Northerners, a not altogether remote possibility.

The scale developed by Giles and Evans (1985) represents the most serious attempt by political scientists to date to


measure perceived threat. It was later adopted by Fossett and Kiecolt (1989). Fossett and Kiecolt (1989) reanalyze the same data used by Giles and Evans (1985), but their findings differ. While Giles and Evans (1985) find that racial composition is not generally linked to their threat scale, the more recent study finds the expected relationship between local racial composition and the threat scale, and not only for Southern respondents. Fossett and Kiecolt (1989) found the percent black to predict their measure of threat in the total sample and in both the Southern and non-Southern subsamples. The difference in their findings results from differences in model specification, discussed later in this chapter.

Despite its apparent usefulness, the scale is not without problems. First, one might question the face validity of the items. One could think that the civil rights people are pushing too fast because of a strategic orientation; perhaps a sympathetic respondent believes that more economic power should be amassed before continued political maneuvers proceed. Similarly, one may think that any civil rights push is too fast regardless of one's vulnerability to threats from ascendant blacks. A second and related problem lies how the items have been perceived and utilized by other scholars; this issue will be taken up in the next chapter.

Fossett and Kiecolt (1989) also look for regional

differences in respondent's support for integration, but are


unable to support Giles, (1977) Southern exceptionalism explanation. Fossett and Kiecolt's (1989) results differ because of a slight difference in the way they specified their models. Using data from the 1976 and 1977 GSS, they find that support for integration was inversely related to the percentage black in all regions. They included a measure of the respondent's community size, because 'urbanness' should produce greater tolerance (Anderson 1962; Jackmnan 1978; Thomlinson 1969). Indeed, their data support the ameliorating effect of 'urbanness.' Moreover, the inclusion of urbanness in the models reveals the relationship between racial composition and perceived threat. Presumably, respondents from urban areas are so much more tolerant in general than those residing in rural areas that the predicted linear effect of racial composition is obscured unless community size is controlled.

Fossett and Kiecolt's (1989) rebuff of Giles, (1977)

lies in their finding that the direction of the relationship is the same for both southern and non-southern sub samples. This they take as support for "Lieberson's (1980) hypothesis that regional differences in white racial attitudes result in part from regional differences in the distribution of certain contextual variable." (Fossett and Kiecolt 1989, p.829) This may be true in part, but their own data indicate that even with several control variables a South dummy variable remains statistically significant in the prejudicial direction. Similarly, the effects of percentage black and a measure of


the respondent's Southern origins are significantly different in models estimated for Southern and non-Southern subsamples. So, in addition to "differences in the regional distribution of certain contextual variables," Southernness make a significant and unique contribution. The regional difference is one of degree not of kind, but it remains a significant difference.

As might be expected, the various measures of

Southernness have their effect in the more prejudicial direction. This points in the direction of another

unrealized finding from the data presented by Fossett and Kiecolt (1989). The effect of Southern origins is insignificant in the non-southern sample. This insignificance may be the result of a paucity of cases. Alternatively, the insignificance of this variable may be like the dog that did not bark of Sherlock Holmes fame. The fact that Southern transplants in the North are not significantly more prejudicial that their neighbors may point to the importance of context in structuring political attitudes. This interpretation is supported by [or

supports] contextual arguments made by Wright (1977) and others, namely that the most pronounced and important contextual effects are mediated through one's primary group

processes. In other words, "contextual characteristics operate by influencing the types of people with whom one is likely to interact." (Wright 1977, p.505) The behavior of


the Bubbas in Babylon, like that of a fish out of water, is different than it would be 'Down Home.'

Using the same data (1972 ANES) exploited by Giles and Evans (1985), Fossett and Kiecolt (1989) re-estimate the effects of several contextual and individual predictor variables on their shared measure of perceived threat. They find that local racial composition influences their measure of threat in the expected direction for all samples and subsamples. Again, their specification differs from that of Giles and Evans (1985) by the inclusion of the community size control. Community size is negatively related to perceived threat in all samples, so urbanness appears to have an ameliorating effect on prejudicial attitudes. What they do not find is a significant relationship between either a South dummy variable or southern origins and their measure of perceived threat. This runs counter to what one would expect. Indeed, no variable predicting their measure of threat has a significant regional difference.

Fossett and Kiecolt (1989) go further and examine the

effect of the threat scale on support for racial integration. Here they find, as expected, that the threat scale has a significant inverse relationship with support for integration. Even with the threat scale in the model, the percentage black has the expected (inverse) effect in all samples. But in these models there are important regional variations. First the threat scale has a more pronounced effect in the Southern model. Second the Southern origins


variable, as above, is significant in the prejudicial direction only in the Southern sample; Southerners in exile are not less likely to support integration that their neighbors. Further, the difference of these two variables alone accounts for a 13.4% increase in the amount of variance explained in the Southern sample over the Northern sample. These difference reinforce the importance of context in allowing both access to socialized values and in allowing the use of those values in determining policy preferences.


This discussion of the interpretation of regional

contextual variable points to another question deserving further discussion. Giles and Evans (1985, 1986) treat racial composition as a measure of external threat. This interpretation is consistent with some of the sociological literature on 'ethnic conflict, or competitive ethnicity (see Giles and Evans 1985, 1986 for a review of this literature and citations). In the 1985 article they make the distinction between external threat and perceived threat. Perceived threat was measured by asking the respondents questions while the percent black represented the sole measure of external threat. Giles and Evans (1985) may be correct in making this assumption. In this way, they distinguish themselves from Marxian and modernization theorists who characterize race as an ascriptive identifier and of diminishing salience in developed societies.


The discussion of the role of race in politics by Key

(1949) and Huckfeldt and Kohfeld (1989) implies that race is not primordial, that it does not represent an unresolvable cleavage. For Key (1949) the fundamental struggle of Southern politics was class based. Race was used, in part, as an instrument to thwart insurgent actions by the havenots. Key (1949) characterizes the net effect of racial politics as anti-democratic because the system prevented the recognition of objective interests and action based on those interests. In this sense race is an unnatural basis for the formation of group cleavages. Rather, tenant farmers and yeoman farmers had common interests regardless of race. Race baiting prevented the recognition of these common interests and other forms of repression discouraged participation not only of blacks, but of poor whites as well. Huckfeldt and Kohfeld's analysis is similar. Race represents an unnatural cleavage that prevents the formation of class based political parties.

While Giles and Evans (1985,1986) do not test the validity of their assumption that whites actually are threatened by local blacks or cite empirical studies which support it, there may be reason to think that there is something to the notion. For example, the social change movements of the 1960s and 1970s created an environment in which racial and gender discrimination was made more difficult. As a result, women and blacks entered the job market and began taking some of the jobs that would have


either gone to men or for which they would have previously received substandard wages. This represents a good deal for those who had been discriminated against before, because they were getting better treatment and wages than they had previously. White male workers faced increased competition for positions and wages. This depressed real wages. So, white men lost the noncompetitivee advantage they had previously held.

of course, some would argue that working class whites

are right to feel threatened because the inclusion of blacks in the mainstream work force had a more immediate effect on those on the lower end of the job market. Neither upper management nor the owners of capital have much to fear from the rapid expansion of the labor market after three hundred years of systematic and costly discrimination. Demonstrating the actual effects of the desegregation of the work place is less important for this study than demonstrating whites, belief that such desegregation poses a threat to them and that perception of threat influenced behavior.

This sort of supply and demand analysis of the effects of the relaxation of color and gender-based barriers to employment on whites makes the Giles and Evans assumption seem less far-fetched. Of course, the changes described above could have been a short term shock which later resulted in a new competitive equilibrium. This may be an empirical question, but it is one that need not be answered in the present study.


Whether or not local racial composition represents an actual or imagined threat to whites will not be examined in this study. The question taken up in this study centers on the operative cognitive mechanism driving racial politics among whites. In this sense, one need not answer the question of whether or not the political, economic or cultural status of whites is objectively threatened or if such a specter is merely the result of the political conjuring of opportunists, entrepreneurs and extremists. This central difference between scholars in the threat school is less important than their area of agreement, namely that the perception of threat can be a potent political force. The potential reconciliation of these perspectives will be discussed in more detail in Chapter Four. As the second major school of political research into the racial attitudes of whites is discussed in the next chapter, this common ground will come into even sharper focus and the points of difference will fade into the background.


The role of race in politics has stimulated much controversy in political science. In the last chapter, discussion focused on approaches which point to the perception of threat as the operative mechanism of white racial antagonism. While scholars disagree as to the verity of the threat, many see its perception as instrumental in explaining, in part, larger political phenomena. This school of thought finds its recent roots in the literature of Southern politics and related changes to the party system since the civil rights era. Its methods are largely aggregative, although a handful of individual level studies exist. Some of these were discussed.

In this chapter, discussion centers on different

explanations of the role of race in politics. Symbolic

racism represents perhaps the dominant paradigm in the political science literature on white racial attitudes. This

1 "Symbolic racism" refers to a school of thought in the literature on American racial prejudice. Other names for this school have been bowed, new racism and modern racism. These alternatives have all the flaws and none of the strengths of the original term. Symbolic racism represents the most universally recognized moniker for this particular theoretical tradition. Many have attacked the expression on a number of grounds. The use of the term in this study is not meant as an endorsement of its content or its appropriateness as a label for that content. Rather, its use is adopted, for the purpose of clarity only, to refer to this school of thought.



school of thought grows out of the more general orientation of symbolic politics. Since this theoretical tradition is psychological, its method is exclusively individually oriented. Although a few experimental designs have been conducted, most work in this area has exploited survey data.

The chapter opens with a brief discussion of symbolic politics and the role of racial attitudes in that theory of politics. This is followed by a description of the development of the essential elements of the theory and its landmark studies. The chapter closes with an account of the major critiques of the approach and its methods.

Symbolic Politics in a Nutshell

The symbolic racism orientation grows out of the

symbolic politics tradition. A thumbnail sketch of this orientation will provide the foundation for the later treatment of symbolic racism. The symbolic tradition argues that political behavior is driven by cognitive and affective processes. Pre-adult socialization and later resocialization creates a number of affective orientations or symbolic predispositions which provide an enduring standard for the evaluation of new stimuli. Among these affective orientations are numbered racial attitudes, ideology and

2 The brand of symbolic politics advocated by Sears (see Sears 1988 for a summary), in particular, shares some common ground with Edelman's (1971) articulation, but features one dramatic point of departure. While Edelman left room for the influence of self interest, Sears and his colleagues dismiss such influences.


partisan identification. These enduring predispositions determine political attitudes, like issue positions and candidate evaluations, and behaviors, like voting or participation in demonstrations.

The impact of the symbolic predispositions attitudes or behavior occurs to the exclusion of an individual's current personal or economic situation. In this perspective, the material context has little influence on the individual. Indeed, the effects of actions based on self-interest (or what people think their self-interest is) is largely relegated to the private sphere.

of course, this caricature of this theoretical

traditions may seem a bit far-fetched. A less exaggerated example from the economic voting literature may provide a more favorable reading. Some have thought that voters in America engaged in pocket-book voting, making their electoral choice in favor of the candidate most likely to benefit them financially (Bloom and Price 1975; Tufte 1978) or closest to them on the content of issues (e. g. Page 1977; Riker and Ordeshook 1973). Students of symbolic politics have argued that this is not the case (Kinder and Kiewiet 1979; 1981). Rather than making their decision based on their individual interest, voters cast their ballots based on how they think the country as a whole is doing, sometimes called 'sociotropic voting'. Thus the choice revolves around which candidate is best for the country, not around which candidate is best for the individual. Indeed, Kinder and Kiewiet found


support for this proposition in their 1981 study, even when measures of satisfaction with income and satisfaction with current financial status were controlled.

of course, this literature is not without critics, but neither is it without fans. In this case discussed above, the symbolic politics approach contributes to our understanding of the calculus of the vote choice. At the same time, its usefulness in understanding politics in general may be reasonably questioned. The approach constitutes a black box of sorts; the symbolic predispositions go in one side and the vote comes out the other. One might imagine that the context in which this process occurs might have some influence on it. How does the voter evaluate what is 'good for the country, economically vis-a-vis what is 'good for the country, militarily or racially or educationally? Do voters project their preferences as the most benevolent path for the country? Despite these and other obvious criticisms, one can see the possibility that an individual might suppress his or her economic self-interest in making the vote choice.

Theoretical Underpinnings of Symbolic Racism

The theory of symbolic racism was introduced about 20 years ago (Sears and Kinder 1971). It has not remained static since that time but has evolved. In particular, the claims made by its proponents early on have been tempered. For example, The assertion that traditional prejudice, "can


no longer be a major political force," in American politics (Kinder and Sears, 1981) is no longer defended by either of its authors. The proponents of symbolic racism theory are not of one mind. There are disagreements about many aspects of the theory. What follows is a portrait of a symbolic racism that may not match any one scholar's description exactly but which attempts to capture the mean or essence of all its proponents; this is meant to provide a basis for a general critique of the theory and the generation of hypotheses. Unlike a straw man, the composite presented below is likely stronger than any one formulation of the theory presented to date. This portrait is followed by some attention to the elements of disagreement and unity within the symbolic racism camp over central themes. The discussion in later sections should make the limits of the derivative statement of symbolic racism apparent and point to specific places in the literature where disagreements occur. In subsequent sections, attention is paid to controversies surround data measurement and methods.

The logic of symbolic racism mirrors the logic of

symbolic politics outlined above. Pre-adult socialization and adult resocialization result in the creation of a set of racial predispositions or attitudes which provide an immutable standard for the evaluation of new issues, candidates or other stimuli. Current racial attitudes are not the function of one's situation in life. Rather, they are abstract. These attitudes or predispositions provide the


source for positions on issues, the evaluation of candidates and other external stimuli. Ultimately the predispositions result in behaviors such as voting.

There are two central elements to the racial attitudes. The first is anti-black affect, a generalized distaste for or disapproval of blacks. The second essential element is found in a commitment to traditional values, not limited to but epitomized by the Protestant work ethic. Thus Kinder and Sears (1981, also quoted in Sears 1988) list the ingredients of symbolic racism as

a blend of antiblack affect and the kind of traditional
moral values embodied in the Protestant Ethic . a form of resistance to change to the racial status quo
based on moral feelings that blacks violate such
traditional American Values as individualism and selfreliance, the work ethic, obedience and discipline. (p.

These components work in 'conjunction, together to form symbolic racial predispositions.

The proponents argue that this symbolic attitude is a new form of racism, that it is distinct from redneck racism, "open bigotry of the sort frequently associated with workingand lower-class (Southern) whites" (McConahay 1982, p. 705), in either or both of two ways. Redneck racism has either 1) disappeared or is of dramatically reduced salience in contemporary society or 2) become old fashioned. That is to say, it "is no longer fashionable to express these beliefs or to support these practices openly in the elite circles of our society.- (McConahay 1982, p. 705)


Finally, like other symbolic predispositions in the

symbolic politics paradigm, symbolic racial attitudes were thought to be completely abstract. While older forms of racial attitudes had been thought to be related to the context within which the individual found him or herself, this new set of attitudes was thought to have no relationship to the individual's context or material interests.

In sum, the essence of symbolic racism, as argued by its proponents, is characterized by three points. First, it is a new racial attitude, distinct from previously examined prejudicial attitudes. Second, it is comprised of two central elements, antiblack affect and traditional values. Third, it is wholly abstract, completely unrelated to an individual's context or material interests. These three characteristics seem to represent the best and most widely accepted definition, of the concept. The proponents of symbolic racism have stood by these elements in the face of some of their more trenchant critics (see the Sniderman and Tetlock (1986a) exchange with Kinder 1986, or the chapters by Sears and Bobo in Katz and Taylor, 1988). These exchanges provide a more detailed history of the concepts development and weaknesses than space permits here. A more detailed discussion of the three central elements follows.

Newness or Distinctiveness from old Fashioned Racis

Early articulations of symbolic racism maintained that the new combination of anti-black affect and traditional


values had replaced the old racism (Kinder and Sears 1981). Lately, both Kinder (1986) and Sears (1988) have backed of f from that position and now argue that the old fashioned racism still exists and is different from symbolic racism and that both have anti-black affect in common. All proponents defend the distinctiveness of symbolic racism from previously recognized forms of prejudice.

The new racism was distinguished from two other

recognized for-ms of racism: 1) generalized (in)egalitarianism or 'redneck racism' which fostered "legalized or formalized racial discrimination, [and] inherent racial inferiority" (Sears and McConahay 1973, 138) among other things; and 2) personal racial threats, characterized by threats to an individual's job, housing, or safety.

Kinder and Sears (1971, 1981) dismissed the importance of redneck or old-fashioned racism and were joined in this dismissal by associates McConahay and Hough (1976) and various constellations of co-authors (examples follow). They point to declining levels of support in surveys for segregationist positions as evidence of the declining significance of old fashioned prejudice3. So by 1981, Kinder

3 See Schuman, Steeh and Bobo (1985) for an extensive discussion of the declining levels of support for segregation over time. In that study, they indicate a period of decline in prejudicial attitudes throughout the civil rights era before a new equilibrium (at relatively low, but not inconsequential levels) is reached. Few respondents to segregationist survey questions indicate the most prejudicial positions. But as Sniderman and Tetlock point out (1986a, also Sniderman, Tetlock, Piazza, and Kendrick 1991) it is not evident why few choose the prejudicial responses to those questions. Sniderman and Tetlock (1986a) pose one


and Sears could declare that America had become essentially racially egalitarian.

The most provocative assertion of the newness of

symbolic racism is found in Kinder and Sears' 1981 study. "Since the explicitly segregationist, white supremacist view has all but disappeared, it can no longer be a political force . . what has replaced it . is symbolic racism (p. 416). McConahay, too, makes claims that the new racism in now dominant while old fashioned racism is a thing of the pre-civil-rights-era past (1982).

while some studies made claims about symbolic racism

replacing other racial attitude, others point to the concept as simply one form of racial attitude among any number of racial attitudes. Sears and Kinder (1985) back off from the replacement hypotheses to a position recognizing the distinctness of symbolic attitudes as opposed to other forms. Others point to common elements across different types of racial attitude. One landmark study which portrayed symbolic racism as new and emergent in suburban America points to its similarity to older prejudicial attitudes by saying that symbolic racism is an "expression of some of the negative

explanation based on the changing language of prejudice. They argue, for example, that the content of racial stereotypes has changed over the years, but that the underlying reasons for the application of prejudicial stereotypes has not, i.e. bigotry. In this sense, they imply that the measures evoke less response not because America has become a land of racial egalitarianism. Rather, the old questions no longer resonate with the underlying prejudicial attitudes. In other words, the changing context has rendered the old measures useless in tapping persistent prejudicial attitudes.


feelings underlying old fashioned or red-neck racism, but it differs from them in its other psychological roots and in many of its specific forms of expression." (McConahay and Hough 1976, p. 24) A similar claim is made in a later study by McConahay (1982, p. 705) A 1979 study's factor analysis found three racial dimensions, but since all were correlated with anti-busing attitudes they were treated as one dimension (Sears, Hensler and Speer 1979, p. 382n).

The original claims of newness have been softened

somewhat. The proponents do maintain that this expression of racial attitudes is a post civil rights era phenomenon, that it is distinct from other racial attitudes, and that it is more important.

Combination or Multi-dimensionality

While most proponents of symbolic racism agree that

traditional values and anti-black affect are ingredients of symbolic racism, there is some dissension as to the exact nature of the relationships between the concepts. Kinder recently claimed that symbolic racism is the 'conjunction' of these values and racial prejudice. (1986) The precise relationship between the two elements has never been specified. McConahay and Hough (1976) stress this facet of symbolic racism by calling attention to a number of constituent elements. For McConahay and Hough (1976), symbolic racism has blacks as a group as its object, a moral tone (p. 36-7), addresses issues surrounding the violation of


the Protestant ethic (p. 41; also McConahay 1982), and has as it -most important psychological factor . political and economic conservatism . ." (p. 37)

A similar approach is taken by Sears, Hensler and

Speer's (1979) articulation of symbolic politics, "anti busing sentiment as primarily derived from long-standing political predispositions, specifically racial prejudice and political conservatism, which in turn can be traced to political socialization in preadult life." (p. 372). Kinder

and Sears (1981) point to symbolic racism's "blend of antiblack affect and the kind of traditional American moral values embodied in the Protestant ethic.,, (p. 416; also endorsed in Kinder and Sears 1985; Kinder 1986; Sears 1988) The formulation by Sears and Citrin is similar, "the conjunction of two separate underlying dimensions: a specifically anti-black attitude, and conservative value priorities, which stress individual effort and responsibility rather than government activism." (1982, p. 168)

Nowhere in the literature on this topic is there a clear articulation of how the elements fit together, why they should not be treated as distinct dependent or independent variables or how they are different from garden-variety prejudice and.conservatism. one gathers that the

relationship is mutually reinforcing. A dedication to the values embodied in the work ethic reduces sympathy with the unemployed, underemployed, or otherwise less successful folk one might hear about--perhaps poor blacks on the television


or a street corner. The residue of anti-black affect reduces the level of sympathy resulting in the assignment of blame for the outcast group. So the perceived failings of the out group to live up to expectations and the attendant, but abstract, disdain for that out group result in the symbolic" racial attitude.

Despite criticism over the combination of analytically and (potentially) empirically distinct elements (note especially the frontal assault by Sniderman and Tetlock 1986a and a less successful effort by Bobo 1983), the proponents stand by the 'conjunction, premise.

Abstraction vs. Self Interest

The concept of symbolic racism was introduced in Sears and Kinder's 1971 study of the 1969 Mayoral election in Los Angeles. This election pitted a conservative white candidate, Yorty, against a liberal black candidate, Bradley. The concept developed inductively from their analysis of survey questions asked during the election (Kinder 1986, McConahay 1976). From the responses to the questions the authors inferred that a new form of racism had taken root. This new racism consisted of "abstract moral assertions about blacks, behavior as a group .-(Sears and McConahay


This new racism was thought to be abstract, not based in the individual's current material conditions, and hence symbolic. If not based in material conditions, where does


the attitude have its roots? Like other predisposition in the symbolic politics paradigm, symbolic racism has its roots in pre-adult and adult socialization. Let us leave aside for the moment issues arising from the effects of material conditions on socialization.

All the studies of symbolic racism draw the distinction between the abstract, or value driven, nature of symbolic politics and the material context in which the individual finds him- or herself. This abstractness principle is generally presented in juxtaposition to the notion of threats to personal lives (Kinder and Sears 1981, p. 416, Sears and Citrin 1982) or the effects of personal experiences (McConahay and Hough 1976, p. 37; McConahay 1982, p. 705n; Sears, Lau, Tyler and Allen 1980, p. 671; Sears and Lau 1983, p. 224) The articulation found in Sears, Hensler and Speer (1979) is particularly behavioral in its emphasis on the stimulus-response mechanism:

Whether or not the issue has some tangible consequence
for the adult voter's personal life is irrelevant.
One's relevant personal stake, in the issue is an
emotional, symbolic one; it triggers long-held, habitual
responses. (1979, p. 371)

4 The position articulated in a more general study of symbolic attitudes is inconsistent with the statement. In Kinder and Rhodebeck's analysis of the 1972-76 ANES panel study (1982) they state, "These stability coefficients . imply both that racial beliefs are comparably durable . and that they are far from fixed. Racial socialization does not end with adolescence.- (p. 205)


Two statements by Kinder and Sears (1985) reinforce this point.

Resistance to change in the racial status quo would
seem, there-fore, to have little to do with the direct
tangible threats blacks might pose to personal life, and
a great deal to do, instead, with prejudice and values.
(p. 1141)

We say that personal life is usually compartmentalized
away from political life; that any real or imagined
threats posed by blacks to whites' private lives seldom spill over into antiblack political positions. (p. 1143)

Given the evidence of regional variation presented in

the previous chapter, it is difficult to accept uncritically the assertion that racial attitudes are divorced from context. Still, the proponents of symbolic racism (speaking for themselves) make their position abundantly clear.

Methods and Measurement

Given its ad hoc development, symbolic racism did not start out with a set of theoretically derived measures. Rather the concept was deduced from measures meant to tap general racial attitudes in the Los Angeles studies (Sears and Kinder 1970, 1971; Kinder and Sears 1981). Since that time, efforts have been made to develop better measures. These efforts have met with varying degrees of success. While critics of symbolic racism point to shortcomings in the measures used in a number of studies employing national level data, Kinder (1986) and Sears (1988) argue that these studies were not designed to test symbolic racism per se. Rather, they argue that the studies were examinations of general


symbolic politics hypotheses which happened to include racial measures. For example Sniderman and Tetlock (1986) criticize Sears, Hensler, and Speer (1979) and Sears, Lau, Tyler and Allen (1980) for combining measures of old fashioned and symbolic racism in these studies. Kinder 1986 and Sears 19885 respond that those studies do not measure symbolic racism but symbolic politics generally. Rather than dwelling on contested measures, what follows is a discussion of the current concepts and measures most widely accepted by the proponents of the theory, setting up a rationale for the measures used in the present study.

while symbolic racism is the conjunction of antiblack

affect and traditional values, Sears argues that it manifests itself in two ways: "(a) antagonism toward blacks' "pushing too hard' and moving too fast, especially (though not exclusively) through the use of violence and (b) resentment toward special favors for blacks . ." (Sears 1988, p. 56) These manifestations, more or less, reflect the constituent theoretical parts. For example, a belief in self-reliance combined with antiblack affect may make one more disposed to latch onto stereotypes concerning welfare. Table 3.1 below list examples of the operationalization of these concepts in a series of symbolic racism studies conducted between 1976 and 1985. This list, compiled by

5 Sears (1988) claims that these two studies did not measure symbolic racism on page 64 after crediting those same studies as examples of the concept's efficacy on page 59.


Table 3.1 Sears's two dimensions of symbolic racism measures

Antagonism Toward Blacks' Demands

Blacks are getting too demanding in their push for equal rights. (Agree)b,c

Blacks shouldn't push themselves where they are not wanted. (Agree)a

Some say that the civil rights people have been trying to push too fast. Other feel they haven't pushed fast enough. (Trying to push to fast)d

It is easy to understand the anger of black people in America. (Disagree)b,c

Resentment About Special Favors for Blacks

Over the past few years, the government and the news media have shown more respect to blacks than they deserve. (Agree)b

Over the past few years, blacks have gotten more economically than they deserve. (Agree)b

The government should not make any special effort to
help blacks and other racial minorities because they should help themselves. (Agree)e

Do you think blacks who receive money from welfare
programs could get along without it if they tried, or do you think they really need the help? (Could get along)a

Do you think the Los Angeles city officials pay more,
less, or the same attention to a request or complaint from a black person as from a white person? (More)a

a Kinder and Sears (1981). b McConahay (1982)
c McConahay and Hough (1976) d Sears and Allen (1984) e Sears and Citrin (1982)

Source: Sears (1988, p. 57)


Sears (1988)6, contains none of the contested measures and is drawn from a wide range of studies. one must conclude that these items have some measure of face validity for Sears, Kinder, McConahay and the other advocates of the concept. Upon review of Sears, list of the currently accepted measures for symbolic racism, one observes that the questions have one fundamental thing in common. They all have blacks as their objects. This marks a point of theoretical consistency. If the concept of symbolic racism has at its core the notion that blacks violate traditional American values, then it follows that survey questions meant to tap that core should have blacks as their focus. Beyond this, some of the questions in this list clearly indicate specific values, in particular self-reliance, or getting ahead without government assistance. Other questions not on this list show remarkable face validity in terms of their apparent ability to capture both antiblack affect and values such as self-reliance. The "blacks could get ahead like the Jews, Irish and Italians', question is a particularly good example of this (see the appendix for the text of questions used in this study). These and other questions will be discussed at greater length in the chapter on methods.

6 Kinder (1986, pp. 156-7) provides a more exhaustive list. The shorter list showcased here is adequate to give the flavor of the measures.


Self Interest: The Alternative Hypothesis

The series of symbolic racism studies go to great

lengths to test the various symbolic racism scales against a single alternative hypotheses. The primary alternative is represented by some measure of self interest. The proponents may be justified in their selection of this hypothesis, for it is compelling. But there has been relatively little response to criticisms of their operationalization or choice. For example, the theoretical traditions alluded to in the previous chapter are given little play in the writings of the symbolic advocates. Their discussion of the self interest alternative sometimes draws clear distinctions between its narrow construction and more general threat hypotheses and sometimes that distinction is more obscure. The alternative hypotheses they explore represent a most narrow construction of 'interest.' On the other hand, this narrow construction may provide clarity and assure that this particular alternative is well explored.

One must ask how was this alternative hypothesis

measured. While methodological cheap shots do not provide a basis for the formulation of a theory, they can help one critically evaluate the extent to which the evidence marshaled in support of a theory is supportive. The proponents of symbolic racism go to great lengths to test


this (self-interest) alternative hypothesis. Unfortunately, the extensive tests provided leave lingering questions.

First, a couple of general methodological issues should be addressed. In a number of studies, the proponents use a number of tests to gauge the relative explanatory power of self-interest and symbolic racism (Sears, Hensler and Speer 1979; Sears, Lau, Tyler and Allen 1980; Sears and Citrin 1982; Kinder and Sears 1981; McConahay 1982). Some of the tests consistently present difficulties in interpretation. while there is no reason to suspect an intent to obfuscate, one finds a consistent pattern of modeling procedures which could underestimate the effects of alternative hypotheses. These three tests are discussed below. The first two types of test involve problems associated with the comparison of a scale to a collection of individual variables and the third involves questions concerning the proper comparison of populations.

First, a symbolic racism scale is compared with a number of measures for self interest. For example, in Kinder and Sears 1981 study, the effect of the symbolic racism scale is compared with that of a handful of self interest indicators in a regression equation predicting support for one of the mayoral candidates in the 1973 election in Los Angeles. The scale has a consistently significant effect in the predicted direction while the other measures tend not to have significant effects. Of course, comparing a scale to a collection of, presumably, correlated measures presents some


difficulties. Assuming the measures for self-interest were valid, they might not appear as significant while appearing in an equation with other measures of the same concept; the explained variance may have been spread thinly over the multiple indicator so thinly that no individual measure had a statistically significant effect. In other words, each of the parameter estimates for the measures of self interest report the effect of that measure of self interest while controlling for the effects of other measures of the same concept. Finding even a small effect may have theoretically significant ramifications (see for example, King 1986), namely that self-interest makes some contribution.

A second kind of test is used to compare the predictive abilities of the two concepts. For example, in their table 3, Kinder and Sears (1981) estimate a regression equation with the symbolic racism scale as the sole independent variable. They note the adjusted R2, the percentage of variance in the dependent variable explained by all the independent variables adjusted for the total number of variables in the model. Next they add the several measure of self-interest to the model and note the adjusted R2 for the total model including the symbolic racism scale and the measures of self-interest. By subtracting the first R2 from the second they can gauge the additional amount variance explained by the measures of self-interest. But herein lies the rub. In the calculation the adjusted R2, symbolic racism is treated like a single variable while the collection of


self-interest measures, also measuring a single concept, are treated as multiple unrelated measures. This comparison presents a bias against the unsealed items, a bias that is amplified by colinearity among the unsealed items.

A third test breaks the sample into smaller groupings

based on the responses to one of the measures designed to tap self-interest. The complete model is then re-estimated (without the measure used to divide the sample) for each subgroup of the total sample. As above, the symbolic racism scale is found to have significant predictive power while the measures of self-interest fail. This interpretation is problematic. First, the division into the groups represents just another way of controlling for the effect of the variable used as the divisive criterion. Such a division is reasonable under a number of circumstances, for example if nonlinear effects are expected for different levels of the criterion variable or if the criterion variable was shown to empirically or has a theoretically significant interaction with another variable in the model. The presentation by Kinder and Sears (1981) is not much of an improvement over having the criterion variable as another independent variable.

A second problem associated with this test is that it rests on a comparison of the marginal effects of the independent variables across 'populations, or sub-samples rather than on the different absolute levels within each subsample. In this sense, as above, one expects the marginal


effects to be the same as when the criterion variable was controlled statistically in an earlier equation. If there were differences in the absolute levels of the dependent variable, in this case the evaluation of a mayoral candidates, how would one know? The marginal effects of the independent variables should not be very different from the equations where the criterion was included as a control, but one would find differences in the constant of the equation. Technically, the constant is the value of the dependent variable when all the independent variables are zero. In a sense, the constant gives a measure of the dependent variable before the contributions of the independent variables are included. In this light, the differences between the subsamples could reside in the constant. For example, those living in the area where busing is occurring may be so much more prejudicial than those in other areas that the marginal effects of the other independent variables is negligible; in such a situation, comparing constants would expose or disconfirm. this possibility. Kinder and Sears (1981) do not report the constant, so the comparison across sub-samples is incomplete.7 Of course, the constants may not have been

7 In general, the omission of the constant is not an egregious transgression. Generally, when one or more of the independent variables lacks a meaningful zero point (i.e. zero falls outside the accepted range for the independent variable or the models in general) the constant may be omitted. For example, if year is a predictor of automobile cost, the value of the constant (the cost of an automobile in the year zero) is of little interest. The trend in many journals is to report the constant even when it is meaningless, for no apparent reason. Here Kinder and Sears


different. Kinder and Sears could have strengthened their argument by calling attention to this fact.


With only a one exception (McConahay 1982; Louisville), all the data used in the examinations of symbolic racism are drawn from non-Southern samples. There are some instances of national level data set being used to measure general symbolic politics hypotheses, but none address symbolic racism specifically.

This leaves a number of city-wide studies conducted in

the north and west and some studies conducted in colleges and seminaries. The McConahay article of 1982 does feature data from a Louisville sample collected by the Harris organization; some consider Louisville a Southern city. Still, the fact that regional differences in racial tolerance are often found (see examples in the previous chapter) gives one cause to expect either that regional differences would exist in the new racism or that the prevalence of the old racism would follow some regional pattern. The significance of the second point depends on the theoretical expectations concerning the relationship between symbolic and old fashioned racism: if symbolic racism is a submerged redneck racism then one would expect either a greater prevalence of symbolic racism where redneck racism had existed previously

provide an interesting counter example to this trend by not reporting the constant when it may have been meaningful.


or a decreased level of symbolic racism where redneck racism prevails because people there would not need to veil their attitudes. This would be especially useful if tests were provided comparing the two forms of racism.

Of course, given the framework of symbolic politics, there is no expected relationship between context and symbolic predispositions. In this sense, the theoretical problems caused by the loci of the various studies only apply to the alternative hypotheses. Still, the use of national level data or comparisons of absolute level of symbolic racism across regions might provide a useful test of the degree to which the new concept is actually symbolic. If it were truly abstract then there should be no differences across regions. Previous studies have not tested this. A fuller elaboration of this hypotheses is outlined in the next chapter.

The framework of symbolic racism rests on three pillars: distinctiveness from known forms of prejudice; the combination of antiblack affect and traditional values; and the divorce of symbolic attitudes from context and self interest. The concept has been tested against a narrowly constructed self-interest alternative hypothesis. The data used for those tests have been drawn from municipal and state-wide samples, primarily collected outside the South.

In this chapter and the one before it, discussion has focused on two major theoretical traditions in the study of white racial attitudes in political science. in the next


chapter, an alternative approach will be outlined. This approach is more synthetic than innovative. Indeed, innovation is difficult to come by in a literature as "sprawling" as that on racism (Kinder and Rhodebeck 1982). This new approach attempts to build on the strengths of the' two outlined below. For example, the claims made by proponents of symbolic politics concerning the enduring effects of pre-adult socialization to the exclusion of the material or social context must be tempered. Similarly, the assumption that realistic group conflict, is necessarily realistic will be relaxed; even if such is the case, an individual must perceive the conflict as real to act upon it. Of course, not all questions raised by this discussion will be answered. Indeed, some may be unanswerable in the short run. Still, it is hoped that the syntheses and ensuing empirical investigation will shed some light on the salient issues and point in the direction of their resolution.


In the previous two chapters discussion focused on two mainstream but distinct schools of thought concerning racial prejudice in America. The first school maintains that racial threats or the perception thereof provide the central mechanism for the generation and use of prejudice. The second school introduces a new, form of abstract prejudice thought to have become widespread in the post civil rights era. In this chapter, a third position is laid out in order to synthesize a set of reasonable theoretical propositions and lay the ground work for testing those propositions.

The (survey research portion of the) literature

discussed in the previous two chapters suffers from a problem common in the social sciences. Namely, the phenomenon being modeled is far more complex than the model.1 In this case, as the proponents of each of these schools have staked out their territories, they have tested their hypotheses against relatively transparent null hypotheses. Additionally, the conversations in each school have been independent of each other. The result of these shortcomings stultifies theory building since research falls into a cycle of replication on

1 Of course, the very nature of modelling requires some simplification, else the exercise would be pointless.



the one hand or a series of minor internecine squabbles on the other.

Given the broad view of the two schools, one can derive areas of synthesis. Indeed, one expects common ground between the approaches because both schools address prejudice and its causes. one might expect propositions held in common by both schools to be especially robust, theoretically and empirically. Conversely, the greatest opportunity for theory building lies in areas neglected by either or both schools. A number of hypotheses discussed later in the chapter provide a framework for plumbing these interstitial depths.

Despite the existence of any number of common or

uncommon elements between the two approaches, two themes merit serious treatment. The first and most fundamental theme centers on the notion of multi-dimensionality of racial attitudes. Is there merely one kind of attitude, parceled out in varying levels across the nation or are there multiple dimensions of varying intensity and salience? The second (and secondary) issue revolves around defining interests. Do people define their interest narrowly, in terms of the maximization of personal benefits, or are interests more broad, weighed in terms of the maximization of benefits for

family, group, or country? These two issues will be taken up below followed by a brief discussion of the importance contextual factors in understanding attitudes and behavior with a fairly detailed discussion of one such factor, racial composition.



The notion of multi-dimensional racial attitudes dates from the 1950s (e.g. Rokeach 1960; Allport 1954). Many studies identified the various dimensions through the use of intensive personality trait questionnaires. This method resulted in detailed measurements of the respondent's racial attitudes. The studies, however, failed to demonstrate the relevance of the scales to any external conditions or to demonstrate the impact of those attitudes on political behavior or attitudes.

Other studies have excelled in measuring people's

political orientations and evaluations of candidates. For example the American National Election Studies (1952-1992) conducted by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan have consistently measured many fundamental political orientations, behaviors, characteristics and attitudes. Of course, every question a secondary or even a primary researcher might want to ask cannot be asked. Few data sets can tap multiple dimensions of racial attitudes and provide measures of political phenomena against which one may judge the effects of the racial orientations. Hence, most studies cannot take this sort of approach. The proponents of symbolic racism acknowledge the existence of multi-dimensionality (see discussion in Chapter Three), while others are less explicit in their treatment.


But the acknowledgment of multi-dimensionality by the proponents of symbolic racism is underdeveloped empirically and theoretically, except to say that the new or symbolic racism replaces the old. one wonders why the old has not yet disappeared or what the different effects of the two sets of prejudicial attitudes might be?

The group conflict orientation held by some of the authors discussed in Chapter Two holds no place for conceptions of multi-dimensionality. From their perspective, material imperatives would outweigh any preferences, psychological predispositions or attitudes. Their view of racial attitudes lying mainly in the material realm makes them ill equipped to explain even some of their own findings. The works by Huckfeldt and Kohfeld (1989) and Key (1949) are less clear about the exact nature of the racial attitudes, but unlike their colleagues they point to racial predispositions resulting in behavior which is contrary to individuals, material interest. Given this lack of agreement it seems reasonable to temper or relax the assumption that actual conflicting interests represents a necessary and sufficient condition for the emergence or existence of racial hostilities.

The two central schools of thought either dismiss the possibility of multi-dimensionality or fail to explain it. Some studies by the proponents of symbolic racism do find


multiple dimensions in racial attitudes but fail to explore the significance of multi-dimensionality.2

Attitude A on horizontal axis Attitude B low high

high II

low IV

Figure 4-1. matrix of racial attitudes

There is little reason to expect people's prejudicial attitudes to follow a zero sum pattern, where one new attitude replaces the other. Rather, the attitudes may represent distinct and independent dimensions. A graphical representation of a two dimensional model is presented in figure 4-1. This two by two matrix is not meant to pigeon hole the orientations into four categories. Instead, the two continua fall on the axes. So an individual could fall anywhere in the range of axis A, without restricting their location on axis B.

The literature discussed in the previous two chapters leads one to some propositions concerning the nature of multi-dimensional racial attitudes. This discussion focuses on the theoretical expectations in two dimensions for clarity's sake but the arguments could be extended to more

2 For example, Sears, Hensler and Speer (1979, p. 382n) use factor analysis to identify three racial dimensions: 1) old fashioned racism; 2) opposition to government action; and 3) opposition to racial protest. Still, they combine all the items into a single racial attitude scale.


(N) dimensions. Further, the discussion addresses the two dimensions for which measures are available in the data exploited in this study, namely perceived racial threat and symbolic racism. The specific measures and operationalizations are discussed in the next chapter. Specific hypotheses are numbered in the text and summarized in Table 4-1.

First, one would expect two racial dimensions to show some degree of independence, but not be completely uncorrelated (HSYNO1). The similarity in theme should mean that the dimensions share some combination of inputs (what explains the attitude), traits (the geographic distribution of the attitudes or other descriptors), or effects (what the racial attitudes reveal about other political orientations and behaviors). Divergence in some of these is to be expected as evidence of the independence of the dimensions.

For the two dimensions examined here a number of

predictions follow from previous theory. The two dimensions should differ in their inputs. For example, the local racial composition should correlate with the perception of racial threats (HRTo1); this sensitivity has been shown to be more pronounced in the context of the South with its segregationist heritage (e.g. Fossett and Kiecolt l989)(HRTO2). Similarly, an individual's assessment of his or her financial situation of the state of the economy in general should covary with sensitivity to perceived threats (HRTO3). In other words, if one has a dim outlook on the


Table 4-1 Derived and Synthetic Hypotheses

Derived Racial Threat Hypotheses
HRTO1: Levels of perceived racial threat will covary with
the percentage black.

HRT02: Levels of perceived racial threat will be higher
among Southerners.

HRTO3:Levels of perceived racial threat will covary with
economic vulnerability.

HRT04:Aggregate (or mean) levels of perceived racial threat
will be highest in the Deep South, less high in the RimSouth and lowest in the non-South.

HRT05: Evaluations of candidates will covary with levels of
perceived racial threat when candidates are identified with
the out group as members or as supporters.

HRT06: Support for safety net policies (exclusive of
racially specific policy positions) will covary with levels
of perceived racial threat.

HRT07: Support for policies which benefits African Americans
in particular will vary with levels of perceived racial

HRT08: The level of perceived racial threat will covary with
the closeness in income (class proximity) of the racial
groups locally.

Derived Symbolic Racism Hypotheses
HSR01i: Levels of symbolic racism will be uncorrelated with
local racial composition.

HSR02: Levels of symbolic racism will be uncorrelated with
individuals' regional origins or residence.

HSR03: Levels of symbolic racism will be uncorrelated with
economic vulnerability.

HSR04: Aggregate levels of symbolic racism will be
uncorrelated with region.

HSR05: Evaluation of liberal or black candidates will covary
with level of symbolic racism.


Table 4-1 (continued)

Derived Symbolic Racism Hypotheses (continued) HSR06: Support for safety net policies will vary with
symbolic racism.

HSR07: Support for policies which benefits African Americans
in particular will vary with levels of symbolic racism.

Synthetic Hypotheses
HSYN01: Perceptions of racial threat and symbolic racism
represent different dimensions of racial attitudes.

HSYN02: The level of perceived racial threat will vary with
the level of income equality between the races.

HSYN03: Symbolic racism will ovary with the percentage
black at low levels, after which the marginal effect of the
racial composition of symbolic racism will diminish. HSYN04: Current level of perceived racial threat and
symbolic racism will ovary with archaic levels of the
percentage black.

HSYN05: Levels of perceived threat will vary with personal
contacts with out group members, as in the work place.

economy (or that one is losing relative to others) then the sense of threat from an external source becomes more salient than it would be under other conditions.

The assumption of abstraction on the part of the proponents of the symbolic racism hypothesis implies independence between symbolic racism and contextual factors like the local racial composition (HSR01) or the region of residence or upbringing (HSR02). Likewise, symbolic racism should not be influenced by the individual's economic outlook because, according to its proponents, symbolic racism is


independent of personal life (HSRO3). Indeed, the proponents of symbolic racism are clear that symbolic racism should be completely independent of all environmental factors or personal interests. (Kinder and Sears 1981, p. 416; Kinder and Sears 1985, p. 1143; McConahay and Hough 1976, p. 37; MoConahay 1982, p. 705n; Sears, Hensler and Speer 1979, p. 371)

The two dimensions should differ in their traits. According to the findings discussed in Chapter Two, perceptions of threat should be more pronounced in the South given its tradition of sensitivity to such threats. On the other hand, symbolic racism should not vary regionally, according to its proponents, because of its independence from the individuals' material context.3 According to symbolic racism theory, one would not expect variation among any of the regions including the most likely suspect, the South. So aggregate levels of perceived racial threat should be highest in the South (HRTO4), while aggregate levels of symbolic racism will not vary by region (HSRO4).

In terms of the effects of the two racial dimensions, one might expect a different picture. The perception of

3 Historical conditions in the South and previous research lead one to expect living in the South to have some effect (input) into the make-up of an individual's racial attitudes; this notion is supported by the threat literature, although some scholars see Southern exceptionalism or the uniqueness of Southern culture and politics as fast fading (e.g. Stanley). As a trait, however, geographic distribution must be considered independently form arguments based on the impact of southernness on the racial attitude. This difference is especially salient given the abstractness assumption of symbolic racism.


threat should not have a uniform effect on attitudes, issue positions or the evaluation of candidates across the political spectrum. Rather, it would affect only on those issues and evaluations which were related to one of its two fundamental components: race and economic vulnerability. For example, the perception of threat would not be efficacious in predicting the relative evaluations of say, two white candidates in a contest in which the race card was not played by one. It may figure more prominently in situations in which one of the candidates race baits his or her opponent by saying the opponent will give white jobs to blacks. Even then, the effectiveness of the tactic depends on the particular skills of the candidates and other circumstances surrounding that election. One would not expect a measure of threat to predict evaluations without that disposition being made salient. Similarly, the perception of threat might come into play in the evaluation of a black candidate (touching on the other fundamental element) even if economic threats were not particularly salient(HRT05)- Symbolic racism would ovary with support for candidates who appeal to traditional values (HSR05)

Additionally, attitudes related to threat should guide issue orientation when salient to the fundamental elements. So, if one feels economically threatened one might be more supportive of programs to help the unemployed, in general, because this safety net would benefit the threatened individual or his or her reference group (HRT06). On the


other hand, one would not expect the threatened individual to support programs which specifically assist groups with whom one perceives an adversarial relationship. So, threatened whites, while supporting some spending programs like aid to the unemployed, would oppose programs specifically assisting blacks, their perceived competition (HRT07).

According to its proponents, symbolic racism should

predict evaluations of candidates and issues. Sears (1986) points out that symbolic racism also explains positions in non-racial issue areas. This, presumably, results from the concept's wedding of conservatism and anti-black affect. To the extent that symbolic racism is a form or expression of prejudice one would expect it to have a more pronounced effect in situations which involved racial objects. In other words, a measure of symbolic racism should explain or predict especially well when the object (or dependent variable) is a black candidate or the issue has racial content(HSR05-07).4

Defining the Nature of Interests

As discussed in the previous chapter, the proponents of symbolic racism test their approach against a single

4 Of course, these expectations are based on the theoretical positions stated by the proponents. The discussion in the previous chapter revealed the symbolic racism theory had not been tested in the national or Southern samples. Had it been, the theory may have been developed somewhat differently. The notion that symbolic predispositions influence current attitudes and behaviors is reasonable enough, but to argue that these symbolic predispositions are completely independent from the context in which individuals find themselves oversteps the bounds of reasonable expectations.


alternative hypothesis, namely narrow self interest defined in largely objective terms. Yet recent scholarship argues for a broader conception of interest and identity. For example, a burgeoning social movements literature sees the development of group consciousness (identity with a group beyond the self) as an essential element in explaining movement genesis (McAdam 1982; Zald and McCarthy 1977). veritable cottage industries have sprung up to explain different kinds of consciousness from gender (Rhodebeck 1992) to race (Jackson 1981; Shingles 1981; Miller, Gurin, Gurin and Malanchuk 1981), even to identification with businessmen (Miller, Gurin, Gurin and Malanchuk 1981); these studies found significant links between group identity and political behavior and various forms of political participation. Similarly, much of the extensive group conflict literature (while maintaining that objective material interests between groups are at odds) argues variously that group membership or identity are essential elements of that conflict (e.g. Baker 1975; Blauner 1972; Isaacs 1975; Schemerhorn 1956; Van den Berghe 1981; Wilson 1973). Giles and Evans (1985) found that levels of racial hostility were positively related to levels of white and Anglo-Saxon identity.

Given the weight of theoretical and empirical evidence documenting the importance of group identification and consciousness, one cannot conclude that self-interest represents the sole conduit for the threat mechanism. Indeed, one expects that individuals would be sensitive not


only to personal threats (challenges to the individual's job, economic status, security, or political influence) but to similar threats to their families and even their race in general. Further, the perception of a more general threat should predict other political attitudes and behaviors. measures of symbolic racism have not been tested against more general orientations or representations of threat.


The empirical and theoretical controversies discussed

above impels an effort at reconciliation. For example, some of the research discussed in the second chapter argues that white hostility toward blacks results from real economic threats posed by blacks. Others argue that instrumentally marshaled racial hostility prevents a poor white-black coalition from upsetting the status quo.

while neither of these propositions are tested in this study, the mechanism underlying them is. The belief that blacks pose economic, status or power threats, rather than the essential material conditions, may lead individuals to have hostile attitudes or to act on existing prejudicial attitudes. material conditions could make believers out of many, but those conditions and consciousness of them need to be disaggregated.

For example, imagine four individuals working for a firm likely to change the composition of its work force in response to a boycott by a minority group: the first worker's


job is threatened because of the changes and he or she knows it; the second one's job is threatened, but he or she thinks (wrongly) it is secure; the third one's job is secure, but he or she thinks (wrongly) that it is threatened; the fourth worker's job is secure and he or she knows it. Despite the difference in the reality of threat posed to the workers, it is evident that there is no reason to expect workers one and three to respond differently to the perceived threat to their jobs. Other things being equal, one would expect similar response among those who have the same perceptions concerning the threats (real and imagined) to their job status.

What expectations are reasonable concerning the two workers who perceive their status as secure? Narrow self interest predicts those workers would not harbor hostility toward the minority group. After all, their interests remain unaffected by the shake-up in the company (at least by the standard of self-interest employed by the proponents of

symbolic racism); they still have their jobs. If, on the other hand, interests are more closely related to group identification, then despite the perceived (rightly or wrongly) security of their positions, they may harbor hostile attitudes. They may harbor those attitudes because the shake-up threatens, not them personally, but people like them, people with whom they identify. or they may feel threatened because the environment has simply become less secure; they could lose their job next.


In this chapter, discussion has drawn attention to ways in which political and racial attitudes may be sensitive to and distinct from actual material conditions (as with the worker who incorrectly perceived her job was threatened). People's perceptions of their condition may diverge from the actual circumstances, but they are not divorced from those circumstances. In the above example, the climate of change led the actually unthreatened worker to perceive that his or her job was less secure than it was. The context, in which co-workers with whom he or she worked were likely to lose their jobs, heightened that worker's sensitivity to the perception of threat. This sense of threat occurs even though there may be no actual threat to the worker's job. Behavior is predicated on perceptions that may be inaccurate. And those perceptions, with their attendant measurement errors,, develop within a context. In the next section, discussion focuses on conditions which inform the context of racial attitudes, paying particular attention to the changing interpretations of local racial composition.

Context and the Changing Meaning of Racial Composition

Some of the studies discussed in the second chapter point to different theoretical significances of the local racial composition. To some (e.g. Giles and Evans 1985) the local composition represents a contemporary and actual threat to the lives and livelihood of whites. To others (e.g. Key 1949), racial composition represents a proxy for a labor


system with a particular set of class relationships Are these interpretations reasonable in the contemporary context? Is the racial composition a threat in and of itself or is it a measure of something else? Operationally it provides a shorthand measure to describe the relative number of blacks and whites living in a given geographic area. From this, one can not necessarily conclude that composition in and of itself represents some threat. But the local racial composition may be correlated with other salient but unmeasured details of the locality.

The contemporary racial composition is correlated with (see later chapters) racial attitudes in the expected ways but not necessarily for the same reasons that group conflict proponents argued. The first element of the contemporary significance of the local racial compositions may found in its representation as a resource for the mobilization of black interest groups (McAdam 1982, Blalock 1965). McAdam, in particular, details the effects of the urbanization of black America as a resource for the mobilization of interest groups and social movements. In a nutshell, the concentration of blacks in the urban setting allowed for the recognition of common interests, higher incomes than those available on the farm, and the formation of civic groups and

5 Key (1949) wrote before the great migration was complete; racial composition was correlated with the ruralness of Southern counties. Giles' (Giles 1977; Giles and Evans 1985, 1986, Giles and Buckner 1993) work addresses a post-migration America where the percentage black may be more correlated with level of urbanity.


churches, which in turn were able to recruit and maintain sophisticated leaders (e.g. educated ministers). The same elements that allowed increased concentrations of blacks in the cities to generate successful social movements may aggravate white hostility to the extent that movement objectives and tactics threaten the economic and political positions of whites.6 In this light, the higher percentage black would elevate the sense of threat among whites. Indeed, because the processes described by McAdam are largely cumulative one would expect a nonlinear relationship between the percentage black and the level of threat. Graphing this relationship would require a quadratic function with an increasing slope (see figure 4-2).

Similarly, the relative ability of blacks to mobilize

other resources may influence the degree to which whites feel threatened. McAdam (1982) and others in the social movements paradigm (particularly the resource mobilization wing) pay particular attention to the ability of nascent movements to generate money as a measure of that movement's strength. In this sense, one might expect the relative wealth of the black community to correlate directly with the level of threat perceived by whites. Blalock (1967) argued that the sense of competition was most heightened among those closest to each other in class position (HRT08). The relative or comparative level of black income vis-a-vis white income should be an

6 For example, Bobo and Gilliam (1990) found that black empowerment in major city governments was linked with white frustration with those governments.


y 100

0 100

Figure 4-2. Quadratic function with increasing slope


effective predictor of threat. Of course, one might also reasonably expect a measure of income equality to correlate inversely with racial hostility (Jacobs 1982). Comparability of income may be an outgrowth of a harmonious racial atmosphere rather than a cause of a toxic one (HSYN02). On the other hand, such arrangements could just as easily promote mutual respect or at least the displacement or loosening of stereotypes (HSYN05)A second way in which the contemporary racial

composition may influence white attitudes lies in increasing the probability of actual conflicts. In a racially monotonic community, one would expect zero cases of racial conflict of any kind. The probability of inter-racial disputes (whether caused by racial hostility or not) could be expected to increase as the percentage of each racial group approached 50% (see figure 4-3).7 This would produce a curve shaped like an inverted U centered on 50%. If symbolic racism is truly abstract, no correlation would be found because of increasing opportunities for inter-racial conflict (HSR01).

7 Conflicts occur between citizens all the time no matter what their race. The increase in transactions between people of different races does not necessarily imply that conflicts resulting from those transactions result in racial hostility. Indeed, other things being equal, the increase in the number of inter-racial transactions may result in a decline in racial hostility because of the increase in the number of positive outcomes from those transactions. However, given the history of racial hostility in America, one would expect (as has been observed) short term increases in hostility.



0 100

Figure 4-3 Parabolic quadratic function


A third way in which the current racial composition may accentuate hostility among whites operates through visibility. Potentially threatened whites may be more likely to latch on to racial explanations for their difficulties if they have reminders of the existence, size, and power of the other race. So the more visible the minority population the more likely they would be blamed for problems faced by whites. Again, one might expect a nonlinear relationship between percent black and the level of threat for these reasons. The level of threat would increase with increasing slope as the percentage black increased (like figure 4-2).

The proponents of symbolic racism might argue that

increased visibility of the minority population should have no effect on the level of symbolic racism. However, the visibility argument sketched out above leads one to expect the level of symbolic racism to increase with the percentage black to some threshold level and level off thereafter (HSYN03). If one relaxes the assumption of abstractness, one might expect the symbolic proclivities to increase slightly as the percentage black rose to some level of visibility, making blacks an identifiable segment of the population. After blacks are identified incremental changes should have little effect if the symbolic attitudes are largely abstract (see figure 4-4).

82 100

0 100

Figure 4-4. Quadratic function with gradual decay


The Archaic significance of Racial Composition

The contemporary significance attached to racial

composition by scholars of group conflict differ dramatically from Key's (1949) reasoning. From Key (also Wright 1977, Mathews and Prothro 1963) one infers that past racial composition affects the current racial climate in localities and states. Introducing this line of reasoning requires the review of some arguments made in more telegraphic form earlier. While focus of this project concerns white racial attitudes in America generally, examining the Southern case proves instructive.

Key (1949) bases his argument on observations of a

region in which a particular economic system reigned with a peculiar set of labor and social institutions; however, King Cotton died. Those institutions no longer dominate the Southern economy. Therefore today's racial composition cannot have the same immediate significance today that the racial composition had when Key (1949) published.Southern Politics. But the archaic racial composition may reveal information about local norms, beliefs and values, or a political culture crystallized in an earlier era. The transformation of the Southern economy and the dramatic demographic shifts make Key's (1949) argument less directly applicable to the current political situation.


AS McAdam (1982) points out, the economic system in the South underwent a series of revolutions in the early part of this century. New machinery reduced the need for cheap black labor. New pesticides had a similar effect. Most importantly the collapse of the international cotton markets made the system of cotton dominated monoculture less (or un) profitable by the beginning of World War II. Even as Key (1949) wrote, the basis of his argument was changing (or had changed). Despite the revolution in the Southern economy, changes in the political system and the culture lagged behind by forty years or more. what accounts for this lag? As Tullos (1989) and Scott (1985) document in widely divergent cases, changes in economic systems (in particular agricultural revolutions) may change the class system but not necessarily the relative positions of actors (or families) within the new system. Powerful families may translate or transform their advantages (education, capital and other assets, prestige, and political power) from the previous system into advantages in the new system. A revolution in the economy does not produce an immediate social revolution. This conservation of advantage forestalls the changes one might expect after such a radical transformation as the Southern economy experienced.

The structure of the political system and the entrenched positions of its inhabitants would have delayed immediate changes in the political system. The lack of a grass roots organization in the Republican party made (make) challenges


to the hegemonic Democrats costly and difficult. Further, skilled Democratic politicians slowed the expected growth of the Republican party after the one-party system was no longer useful (Lamis 1988). For example, George Wallace continued to win elections into the 1980s, despite his well-earned reputation as a racial extremist. Lamis (1988) credits Wallace's formidable political skills with delaying the election of a Republican governor by more than a decade.

Wallace's success points to an additional element in this explanation of the slow pace of change, beyond the structural factors noted above. This additional element lies in the slow pace of changing values across generations in the South. The values established during the era of King Cotton continued to play a significant role in Southern culture and politics long after that economic system collapsed. This continuation of archaic values may have allowed Wallace to harness fears of racial threats as a source of political capital.

In this sense (or to the extent that this is true) one

finds agreement with the proponents of symbolic racism. That is to say, the process of socialization results in the inculcation of standards and values which may form the basis for later political evaluations. But these values and standards do not operate in a vacuum. So, it is reasonable to expect regional variation in levels of racial hostility, even when proximate explanations are controlled. In other words, the archaic local racial composition should indicate


areas with traditions of heightened racial tension, especially in the South. Of course, the contemporary and the archaic racial compositions are not uncorrelated. In this sense, the relationship between the contemporary local racial composition and racial hostilities does not merely reflect the current material context, but also reflects cultural factors which may be unique to the region, state or community.

The patterns of racial antagonism Key (1949) described (using racial composition) continue to affect the current state of race relations in the South and elsewhere. Of course demographic changes and migration and the transformation of the Southern economy have the effect of altering the roots of antagonism in the South. The information revolution and increased access to higher education have muted the transmission of prejudicial values form generation to generation. Still, one expects some degree of continuity within states, counties and local communities. Those raised in communities with traditions of prejudice (or a prejudicial political culture) could be expected to have more prejudicial attitudes than those raised in communities without such traditions because those traditions influence their socialization even if the transmission of values is attenuated because of the factors noted above.

Similarly, the local or state political culture

represents a crucial contextual factor for those who may


migrate from places with different traditions as adults. For example, Fossett and Kiecolt's findings reveal that people raised in the South but living in the North were not significantly more likely to harbor prejudicial attitudes than other Northerners (1989, discussed in detail in Chapter Two). Evidently the context in which people find themselves continues to matter after childhood socialization is complete. And, the context dynamically shapes their current values, beliefs and behavior on issues of race. Indeed, "[r]acial socialization does not end with adolescence." (Kinder and Rhodebeck 1982, p. 205). So adults may be influenced by the prevailing political culture and the material conditions in their state and community.

In this sense, the current racial political culture is shaped by two essential elements: 1) traditions, values and beliefs established in the past; and 2) the current material context. Contemporary measures of context may inform research about both of these elements. For example, the contemporary racial composition (and other measurable data) of a community reflects to some degree the visibility of the minority community and other factors discussed in the previous section and may reveal (or contain) information concerning the political culture or the weight of the past. As discussed above, the contemporary racial composition cannot mean the same thing that it did when Key wrote, but the racial composition from that era can (Wright 1977, Mathews and Prothro 1963a,1963b). operationally, data drawn


from older censuses can inform research about current racial attitudes by providing a cultural backdrop, pointing to crucial cultural information from the past which may influence contemporary racial attitudes (HSYN04). The influence of the current racial composition on racial attitudes reflects the extent to which those attitudes reflect the sort of social dynamic outlined by social conflict or racial threat theorists (HRT01).

The argument presented above dulls the otherwise sharp distinction between analysis of racial attitudes based on a symbolic politics model and models more firmly grounded in material conditions. It is inaccurate to argue that the basis of racial hostility must be one or the other. material conditions influence the values held by previous, current and future generations because of the methods of transmission from parent, teacher, and supervisor to child, student and employee. These values provide a lens or optic through which current material conditions are viewed. Similarly, current material conditions influence the salience or relevance of that lens in a given situation. Perceptions, beliefs and values cannot be completely divorced from the material world, as the proponents of symbolic racism have claimed.

In the next chapter, discussion focuses on how one might measure and test the propositions laid out in this chapter.


In the last chapter, discussion centered on the reconciliation of theoretical dilemmas posed by two mainstream schools of thought in the study of whites, racial attitudes. Additionally, hypotheses were derived from theoretical propositions. In this chapter discussion turns to issues concerning the testing of those hypotheses and the measurement of the constituent elements therein. Four topics need coverage in this chapter: 1) the sources of the data used; 2) how the two racial attitudes outlined in previous chapters are measured; 3) how variables that predict those attitudes are measured; and 4) how variables that are predicted by the racial attitudes are measured. Details regarding the measurement of more commonplace variables are provided in the appendix.


The data exploited in this study are drawn from three

sources. First, survey data are taken from the 1986 American National Election Study (ANES). Additionally, two types of census data are used. Contemporary census data are drawn from the 1980 Census of Population and Housing; the specific data used are from the electronic version of STF 3C. That



summary file will be used to calculate the racial composition for the SMSAs and counties represented in the national sample and to collect other relevant contextual data.1 These data are collected at the SMSA level for respondents residing in SMSAs and at the county level for others. SMSAs, for those who live in them, are thought to be the defining local unit rather than counties or congressional districts. SMSAs tend to have area-wide media markets reinforcing identification with the urban center rather than with constituent counties. County level data are used for respondents not residing in SMSAs. County level data represent the highest level of precision available for merging since census tracts and minor civil divisions have been padded (overwritten with nines) in the 1986 ANES.

Archaic census data are drawn from the ICPSR

reproductions of the U.S. Census of Population and Housing 1% counts from 1900 and 1940 (ICPSR study number 0003). The 100% counts are available in neither electronic nor card format for either the 1900 and the 1940 censuses. The use of the sample counts should make little difference in the project at hand since only minor differences between the sample and 100% counts are likely. Additionally, any variations between the two counts should not produce systematic biases.2

1 The 1990 National Summary File is not yet available, so interpolation for maximum accuracy is not yet feasible.
2 Theoretically both the 1% and the 100% counts are samples, because the survey used to produce the 100% count cannot actually account for everyone. Unfortunately, the 100%