Racial, not rational : economic threat, symbolic racism, and affirmative action
Author(s)Shohfi, Kyle Daniel
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Political Science.
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For decades, scholars have debated the determinants of whites' attitudes about racialized policies such as welfare, busing, and affirmative action. While some have argued that whites formulate their positions rationally according to perceived economic threat, others have asserted that such policy attitudes are the function of one's level of symbolic racism, with little to no influence from economic considerations. Using data from the 2012 Cooperative Congressional Elections Study and demographic data, I assess the effects of actual economic competition and an individual's other attitudes on white opposition to affirmative action. Furthermore, in order to identify the levels, if any, through which the economic threat mechanism operates, this paper measures economic threat in several different ways: at both the level of the individual and the level of whites as a group, and each of these at both the zip code and county levels. I find strong support for the symbolic racism theory of policy attitude formation, as respondent attitudes are driven mostly by racial affect, ideology, and party identification. No matter the level at which economic threat is measured, objective economic conditions do not seem to influence one's attitudes about affirmative action.
Thesis: S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Political Science, 2016.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 51-54).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Political Science.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology