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Traditional and Contemporary Prejudice and Urban Whites' Support for Affirmative Action and Government Help

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Williams, David R., J.S. Jackson, T.N. Brown, T. Forman, M. Torres, and K. Brown. 1999. "Traditional and Contemporary Prejudice and Urban Whites' Support for Affirmative Action and Government Help." Social Problems, 46(4), 503-527.

Data from a probability sample of a major metropolitan area in the United States were used to examine the extent to which racial prejudice predicted variations in whites' support for both government efforts to help blacks through social and economic initiatives, in general, and through Affirmative Action programs in employment, in particular. We examined the relative contributions of traditional and contemporary racial prejudice, individual and group self-interests, and stratification beliefs to the support of race-related policies. Confirmatory Factor Analyses were used to ascertain the empirical independence of the multiple independent measures and the two policy outcomes. Similar to some previous studies, we found that all three classes of variables predict whites' support of racial policies but racial prejudice is the most important. Moreover, the contemporary forms of prejudice are most consequential in predicting levels of support for social policies designed to reduce racial inequality. Finally, controlling for racial prejudice revealed that whites who adhere to basic American values of equal opportunity, hold beliefs that some groups are dominant over others, and believe in the inherent superiority whites, actually favor Affirmative Action and tend to be supportive of government help for blacks.

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