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Is "Symbolic Racism" Racism? A Review Informed by Intergroup Behavior

Jeremy Wood
Political Psychology
Vol. 15, No. 4 (Dec., 1994), pp. 673-686
DOI: 10.2307/3791626
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3791626
Page Count: 14
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Is "Symbolic Racism" Racism? A Review Informed by Intergroup Behavior
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Abstract

Holding that white racism pervades American politics, the theory of symbolic racism has been the subject of considerable controversy. A review of the theory and controversy reveals that Sniderman's apparent refutation (Sniderman, 1991) does not address the form of the theory advanced by Sears (1988) and Kinder (1986). The review highlights the symbolic racism construct (defined as the conjunction of traditional values and a racist negative affect toward blacks) and points to the need to investigate the relationship between the values and the affect. Research on intergroup behavior suggests that the values are likely to be fused with motives for in-group favoring but that whites' solidarity with other whites is likely more motivationally significant than their negative affect towards blacks. Nonetheless, a racist negative affect may be learned and motivationally significant.

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