Less is more: A cross-generational analysis of the nature and role of racial attitudes in the twenty-first century

Christopher D. Desante, Candis Watts Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

After landmark Civil Rights legislation was implemented, scholars provided evidence that the nature and structure of whites’ racial attitudes changed from the Jim Crow era. They devised survey questions to capture newer, more acceptable forms of racial animus. One scale that came out of this effort and that receives the most empirical attention today is the racial resentment scale. Given the vast changes the American racial landscape has undergone since that scale was originally developed, we question whether this set of measures is related to racial attitudes in the same way across generational cohorts. We show two key findings: younger whites are not bringing about any meaningful change in the aggregate levels of racial resentment. Second, and more importantly, we show that while younger whites appear to have lower levels of racial resentment, these survey items are more strongly related to old-fashioned antiblack affect among younger whites. Thus, when it comes to millennials’ racial attitudes, “less is more.”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)967-980
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Politics
Volume82
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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