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Title:The Predominance of Race in American Mass Political Thinking: Racial Belief System Centrality and the Racialization of American Politics
Author(s):Hurley, Norman Lamont
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Kuklinski, James H.
Department / Program:Political Science
Discipline:Political Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):American Studies
Psychology, Social
Political Science, General
Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies
Abstract:Political research has documented the role of race in the transformation of the American political system. In the mid-1960s, the electorate became, and has remained, polarized around the race issue. Scholars have also discovered that race provides a core structuring principle for a substantial portion of the public. In explaining this apparent centrality of race, they hypothesize that it has become an integral component of citizens' political belief systems and, thus, imply that it inevitably enters into political reasoning. Although compelling, this explanation for race's prevalence, the "centrality" hypothesis, largely overlooks the causal forces in the external political environment that foster, and thereby induce, racially based thinking. The central thesis of this research, the "racialization" thesis, provides an alternative explanation for the predominance of race in American politics. As race is extraordinarily divisive, and has proven its electoral might, many candidates have alluring incentives to exploit this issue for political gain. Through the skillful use of manipulative political language and other subtle--and sometimes not-so-subtle--means, they are able effectively to elicit racially driven mass political reasoning. A major implication here is that race need not pervade mass political thinking. The political psychology associated with racializing politics (categorization strategies, priming and attitude accessibility, stereotyping, affective and emotional reactions to political stimuli, and the automatic processing of information) is discussed in depth. An experimental methodology is employed to test the validity of both theses. As the findings are somewhat mixed, support is obtained for both theses.
Issue Date:1997
Description:332 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1997.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9737139
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-05-13
Date Deposited:1997

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