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A Critical Assessment Of Race Talking In Private.

1949 words - 8 pages

INTRODUCTIONThis paper is an examination of how racial opinions in the private sphere compare either positively or adversely to national survey data. Participant observation was used to study three separate persons and settings in order to gather data and opinion. The first section of this paper discusses developed theories and attempts to lay a foundation for later discussion. The methods and data section of this paper goes into detail regarding the participant observation, as well as national survey data results. Any differences of opinions between the private sphere and the national survey data are discussed in the conclusion of this paper using a new sociological theory termed the "chamber pot".THEORIES AND PAST FINDINGSPrejudice is commonly defined as an individual attitude of antipathy against another social group, usually racially defined. Racism is related to prejudice but is more encompassing in that it may be defined as the determination of actions, attitudes, or policies by beliefs about racial characteristics (Dovidio 2001). A long line of social science research has explored the relationship between race and prejudice. In the late 1940s, it was commonly believed that the primary source of prejudice was ignorance, and that "prejudice could be attacked by teaching tolerance and by facilitating contact between blacks" (Schuman, Steeh, and Bobo, and Krysan [1985] 1997). The government helped this process by passing equal rights laws, and the public seemed to be willing to move towards a classless society. However, in later decades, through inaction, there still seems to be little or no public support aimed to help disadvantaged African Americans (Schuman et al. [1985] 1997). This inaction can be explained with a term that Joel Kovel (1970) calls "aversive racism" which is in direct contrast with the traditional form of bigotry called "dominative racism." According to Kovel, the traditional dominative racist is one "who acts out [of] bigoted beliefs" (1970:54). Aversive racists understand the history of past injustice, truly feel sorry for what happened to African Americans, support the legislation and moral principals of racial equality, and regard themselves as unprejudiced. However, at the same time they also possess negative feelings and beliefs about African Americans (Gaertner 2005). This idea should not be confused with Merton's (1949) fair-weather illiberal identity, which is a reluctant conformist to the American creed, found in the Declaration of Independence, the preamble of the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. This type of person is prejudice and "does not believe in the creed but conforms to it in practice through fear of sanctions" (Merton 1949). Gaertner (2005) believes that aversive racism is more subtle and is presumed to characterize the racial attitudes of most well educated Whites in the United States. Because aversive racists believe in the American social organization that assumes the equality of all people, and...

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