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Title: Politics Between Black and White
Authors: Davenport, Lauren Diane
Advisors: Gilens, Martin
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: American Politics
multiracial politics
political behavior
public opinion
racial identity
Subjects: Political Science
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The 2000 Census was the first in which Americans had the option of self-identifying with more than one race. Today, 9 million Americans identify with multiple races, and the election of President Obama--a son of biracial parentage--has increased public interest in multiracialism. Using a combination of national surveys and qualitative interviews, this dissertation breaks down the political ramifications of race-mixing and multiracial identity, with a focus on biracial Americans of White-Black parentage. Analyses begin with an assessment of public opinion towards interracial marriage. Findings show that expressed support for intermarriage has increased over the past decade--both through changes in attitudes and through a cohort replacement effect--driven mostly by increasingly progressive views from Whites. Expressed support is inflated by political correctness, as respondents are less likely to claim support when speaking with someone believed to be of their same racial group. Opposition to interracial marriage is not merely evidence of respondents' racial in-group preferences, but also a disfavoring towards specific racial outgroups, as some out-groups (e.g., Blacks) are considered less desirable marriage partners than others (e.g., Whites). Turning to the identities and attitudes of biracials, findings show that the majority of White-Black biracials now opt to identify as both White and Black--but that nearly 40 percent of biracials continue to subscribe to the one-drop rule, labeling themselves as singularly Black. Biracials' outlook is significantly shaped by family, sociocultural environment, religion, region, and gender. Results also indicate that "money whitens" biracials' self-identification; all else equal, biracials from the most affluent families are more likely to identify as singularly White or White-Black than as singularly Black. Confirming a racial assimilationist effect, biracials adopt the identity of the racial group with which they have the most contact. Regarding policy attitudes, findings show that while identification as partly Black is important in believing that racial discrimination is a major problem in society, simply being of Black heritage leads to significantly more liberal attitudes towards explicitly and implicitly racial policies. Furthermore, on issues involving women and gay rights, biracial individuals who identify as White-Black or singularly Black express more progressive views than monoracial Whites and monoracial Blacks. Interviews further break down biracials' identities, and suggest that skin color is mostly uncorrelated with racial and political loyalties. The dissertation concludes with a discussion of what the rise in intermarriage and growth of the American multiracial population means, symbolically and substantively, for the future of American race relations.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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