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Abstract

Policies and programs designed to challenge the effects of racial discrimination (such as affirmative action) are hotly contested. Factors which have been proposed to explain opposition to these policies include racial prejudice, group threat and self-interest, and perceptions of intergroup justice. We report the results of two random national telephone surveys which tested a theoretically based model of the predictors of policy support in post-apartheid South Africa. The results provided limited support for Blumer's group position model. Compensatory and preferential treatment policies had different underlying predictors: Violated entitlement featured in the models of compensatory policy attitudes, but not preferential treatment policy attitudes, where threat was the strongest predictor. In addition to threat and violated entitlement, policy attitudes among the black sample were related to ingroup identification but those of the white sample were related to prejudice. The effects of these variables were in the opposite directions for the two samples: Policy support was associated with strong ingroup identification and high levels of threat among the black sample (i.e. prospective beneficiaries of the transformation policies), but with low levels of prejudice and threat among the white sample. We conclude by considering the implications that these findings have for social change programs. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.