Measuring Complexity and Change in American Racial Ideologies

Karen Lee , University of Texas at Austin

Conventional survey-based research often measures racial attitudes along a linear continuum and attitudinal change is widely conceptualized as the incline and decline of particular racial ideologies. However, this linear conceptualization is as at odds with the fluid, multidimensional, and often contradictory nature of racial ideology. Using American National Election Studies (ANES) data, I employ latent class analysis to explore racial attitudes across six theoretically informed dimensions. I find that there are six distinct racial schemas that describe the ideological structure of the U.S. racialized social system. Controlling for sociodemographic and political characteristics, these classes vary significantly in attitudes towards a range of topics including immigration, the Black Lives Matter movement, and affirmative action. Finally, using comparable data from the ANES 2012 and 2016, I find that the attitudinal structure is constant but the most polarized classes, namely what I presently label the white supremacist schema and structural racism counter schema, have grown significantly.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session 23. Racial/Ethnic Identity