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Title: Class along the color line
Author: Yancy, Nina M.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7430 7427
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis traces the contours of the Black-White color line in modern America by illuminating how Whites' racialized political behavior varies across local geographic contexts. In a critical reinterpretation of the racial threat hypothesis, I argue that local geography conditions the relationship between Whites' racial orientations and their preferences on policies related to race - but not because Whites are passively threatened in proximity to a Black population. Rather, Whites are active, subjective perceivers of their surroundings who have an interest in maintaining their racial privilege. This conceptual shift not only challenges the assumed neutrality of Whites' vision; it also enables me to identify the range of contextual indicators that Whites might construe as threatening, and the range of White attitudes that are activated as a result. My empirical evidence comes from three case studies. The first two use geocoded survey data to analyze White opinion on welfare spending in 2000, and on affirmative action between 2006 and 2010. The third study draws on in-depth interviews conducted in 2016, exploring an issue related to school desegregation in Louisiana. Each study affirms the core findings of the thesis: Whites' policy preferences are polarized according to racial orientations in settings where race is salient; and a shared White perspective is evident even across polarized attitudes. My findings offer hope, showing that a sign of threat to some Whites may activate racially tolerant behavior in others; as well as reason to restrain our optimism, challenging the assumption that affluent Blacks, unlike the 'undeserving' Black poor, will not be perceived as threatening by Whites. Ultimately, only by recognizing the color line's responsiveness to local geography - and its resilience even as White attitudes liberalize and Black class positions improve - can we understand the line's persistence or the possibility of one day dismantling it.
Supervisor: King, Desmond ; Ansell, Ben Sponsor: Rhodes Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political psychology ; US politics ; Public opinion ; Racism ; Welfare ; Racial threat ; Racial segregation ; Affirmative action ; Racial attitudes