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The Political Context of Competition: Lynching and Urban Racial Violence, 1882-1914

Susan Olzak
Social Forces
Vol. 69, No. 2 (Dec., 1990), pp. 395-421
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/2579665
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2579665
Page Count: 27
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The Political Context of Competition: Lynching and Urban Racial Violence, 1882-1914
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Abstract

This research tests arguments that political challenges and economic competition shaped regional and temporal variation in lynchings and urban violence against blacks during the volatile period 1882 through 1914. The fundamental hypothesis is that rates of racial violence rose when interracial competition intensified because of immigration, urbanization of blacks, economic contractions, and political challenges to white supremacy in the South. Event-history and time-series analyses show that economic slumps, particularly those that affected the least-skilled workers, increased rates of both lynching and urban racial violence, as did rising competition from immigration. Lynching also appears to have been sensitive to factors affecting the Southern region directly. In particular, lynching was affected by Populist challenges to one-party rule as well as by changing fortunes of the cotton economy. Results suggest that theories that take both political and economic dimensions of competition into account at the same time hold promise for explaining diverse forms of racial violence.

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