Trends in whites' explanations of the black-white gap in socioeconomic status, 1977-1989

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Abstract

Whites' explanations for the black-white gap in socioeconomic status are examined using General Social Survey data for 1977 to 1989. While there has been a significant decline in the percentage of whites attributing the gap to innate inferiority of blacks, individualistic explanations of the gap still predominate. Most individualistic explanations stress lack of motivation among poor blacks, and are widely held among whites who otherwise express little or no traditional prejudice. Whites' explanations for the racial economic gap influence their attitudes toward government policies to improve the status of blacks, independent of sociodemographic characteristics and prejudice. These results help explain a paradox of contemporary racial attitudes, and suggest that white public opinion has reached an era of stable acceptance of the black-white economic gap. -Author

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)512-525
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Sociological Review
Volume55
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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