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Reexamining Racial Attitudes: The Conditional Relationship Between Diversity and Socioeconomic Environment


  • We thank William Dixon, John A. Garcia, William Mishler, Robert Stein, Rick Wilson, and the anonymous reviewers for comments on various versions of this article.

Regina P. Branton is Assistant Professor of Political Science, Rice University, PO Box 1892, Houston, TX 77251-1892 ( Bradford S. Jones is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 858721 (


Social science research notes that racial context is related to attitudes toward social issues; however, surprisingly little research has examined how the impact of racial context on attitudes is activated. The aim of this article is to examine racial context “effects” for policy preferences, but to do so within a broader perspective. This article extends the literature on racial attitudes by considering a conditional relationship between racial and ethnic context and socioeconomic context and expanding racial context to include multiple racial and ethnic groups. The findings indicate that racial and ethnic contextual effects do emerge; however, these effects are conditional on the socioeconomic context in which an individual resides. Specifically, high socioeconomic contexts and highly diverse contexts are related to higher levels of support for racial social issues; however, contexts characterized by low socioeconomic context and high racial and ethnic diversity are associated with lower levels of support for such issues.

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