Race and Ethnic Conflict: Contending Views on Prejudice, Discrimination, and Ethnoviolence

By Fred L. Pincus; Howard J. Ehrlich | Go to book overview

6
The Changing Nature of Prejudice

JAMES M. JONES

What do whites think about blacks? What do blacks think about whites? . . . By the 1970s, the development of large-scale survey methods by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) and the Institute of Social Relations (ISR) made it possible to compare over time and, thereby, to detect trends in racial attitudes. ISR researchers Schuman, Steeh, and Bobo ( 1985) studied trends in racial attitudes from the 1950s through the 1970s. They focused on racial relations and social standing in U.S. society, examining primarily black-white attitudes. They divided attitudes into two categories: (1) Broad principles, which dealt with the major racial issues of the day (i.e., school integration, residential integration, integration of transportation, job discrimination, and racial intermarriage) and (2) implementation of those principles that related to the degree to which the government should intervene in order to combat discrimination or segregation, or to reduce racial inequalities in income or status.


WHITE RACIAL ATTITUDES

Table 6.1 shows trends in white racial attitudes in the category "broad principles" between 1960 and the late 1970s. On each question of principle, white respondents were more positive in the 1970s than they were in the 1960s. Attitudes were most positive on issues of school integration, job equity, and equal access to public facilities and transportation. Further, most whites, in the 1970s, believed that blacks should be able to live where they want (88%) and use public facilities freely (88%). They also felt that there should not be laws against intermarriage (71% opposed them), but it is not something of which they generally approved (33%). The desire to maintain 'residential choice' was supported by the small percentage of respondents (35%) who favored residential desegregation. Therefore, although there was an overall trend toward more positive endorsement of racial equality in principle, there remained evidence of boundaries that were not easily erased.

How much did respondents endorse strategies for implementing these principles? Table 6.2 illustrates trends in white respondents' attitudes toward implementation strategies.

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