Challenging the Stubborn Core of Opposition to Equality: Racial Contact and Policy Attitudes

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Abstract

A Random Digit Dialing survey (n = 794) examined the interracial contact experiences and racial attitudes of White South Africans. The survey measured racial attitudes not only in terms of individuals' prejudice, but also in terms of their perceptions of group threat, perceived injustice, and support for various government policies designed to rectify the legacy of apartheid. The results indicated that the frequency and quality of interracial contact predicted Whites' support for both race compensatory and race preferential policies of redress, and these effects were partly mediated by perceived threat, sense of fairness, and racial prejudice. The research points to a potential rapprochement between the social psychological theories of intergroup contact and group positioning theories derived from the work of Blumer. It also highlights the value of adopting a more expansive and politically nuanced conception of the “consequences” of contact and desegregation.

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