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Racial Inequality, Racism, and Racial Change. What forces and policies influence race relations in what ways? 10/31. Feagin’s view: We are at a fork in the road:. 2 Contradictory dynamics responding to the coming minority majority in different ways: Increasing separatism and coercion

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Racial inequality racism and racial change

Racial Inequality, Racism, and Racial Change

What forces and policies influence race relations in what ways? 10/31


Feagin s view we are at a fork in the road
Feagin’s view: We are at a fork in the road:

  • 2 Contradictory dynamics responding to the coming minority majority in different ways:

  • Increasing separatism and coercion

    • Gated communities

    • The “Brazilian solution.”

  • A broad coalition to build inclusive citizenship and “true democracy”

    • “Without justice, there cannot be peace”


What are the dynamics that produce either outcome
What are the dynamics that produce either outcome?

  • Race and ethnic relations often change very very slowly, e.g.

    • 200 yrs of US race relations

    • 2000 yrs of Palestinian relations

  • Race and ethnic relations often change very, very fast, e.g.

    • Germany: 1925-1935

    • US: 1955-1969


The relation of individual attitudes to social dynamics
The relation of individual attitudes to social dynamics

  • Individual actions society, but in many different ways.

  • Society individual attitudes and behaviors, , but in many different ways.

  • Pettigrew** calls the assumption that a racist society is one that contains a lot of prejudiced individuals a failure to “keep our levels straight” or to “think in systems terms”


Housing segregation and tipping points
Housing segregation and tipping points

  • A striking and well-understood example involves housing segregation.

  • Suppose that when some black families move into a neighborhood, all the white families move out. Does that mean that all the white families are motivated by prejudice?

  • Even ignoring the institutionalized policies of banks, real estate agents and developers, schools, or politicians, imagine a distribution of attitudes as follows:


White willingness to live in neighborhoods of varying mix
White willingness to live in neighborhoods of varying mix

Suppose the following mix of attitudes:

19% favor an integrated neighborhood and will remain, so long as they are not the only whites in the neighborhood. 

20% favor an integrated neighborhood and will remain, so long as it remains 50% or more white.

20% favor an integrated neighborhood and will remain, so long as no more than 1/3 of the residents are nonwhite.

20% favor an integrated neighborhood and will remain, so long as it does not become more nonwhite than the country as a whole (i.e. so long as it is less than 20% non-white)

20% favor an integrated neighborhood and will remain, so long as they do not observe other families moving out.

1% oppose a integrated neighborhoods and will move out if any non-whites move in.

What is the dynamic that results?


White flight
White flight

  •    If the institutional rule is that each family makes an independent decision, and if there are no social policies that produce counter-pressures, then:

  • the move of the one percent that oppose integration in principle will cause

  • the next 20% of white families to move out,

  • which will cause the next 20% of white families to move out,

  • and so on, leading to an all black neighborhood.

  • Another way of looking at it is as a self-reinforcing stampede of white flight.


Does the outcome reflect wishes
Does the outcome reflect wishes?

  • In one sense, by definition the outcome reflects wishes (as well as institutional arrangements.)

  • But by assumption, 99% of the population prefers an integrated neighborhood.

  • And the unwillingness of, for example, the last 20% to live in an almost all-black neighborhood may have nothing to do with prejudice.

  • The outcome dynamic is the same as that which would result if all white families wanted to avoid contact with any black families.

  • But what would have to be changed to change the dynamic is very different.


Are race relations and race inequality stable unstable or hyperstable
Are race relations and race inequality stable, unstable or hyperstable?

  • Call a structure “stable” if it changes a little if a small force is placed on it, and it changes a lot of a large force is applied.

    • Structures without feedbacks are often stable.

  • Call a structure “unstable” if it changes a lot even when only a small force is applied.

    • Positive feedback structures are often unstable

  • Call a structure “hyper-stable” if, even after it has been changed, it tends to change back.

    • Negative feedback structures are often hyper-stable.


The three marbles again
The three marbles, again hyperstable?

stable

unstable

Hyper-stable


Myrdal s reasons for believing that race relations were unstable
Myrdal’s reasons for believing that race relations were unstable.

  • They have lots of positive feedbacks.

    • A decrease in prejudice should create an avalanche of further changes unraveling the racist structure.

    • Just as an increase in racial inequality should create an avalanche of further changes increasing racism.

  • Changes in the South were undermining some aspects of Jim Crow.

  • Changes in the country were making Southern regionalism less viable.

  • Changes in the world were making US failure to live up to its ideals less viable.


Implications of his analysis of racial inequality as positive feedbacks
Implications of his analysis of racial inequality as positive feedbacks

  • The structure looks inert only because it is so pervasive.

  • But policy interventions can be very powerful.

  • However they must be broad spectrum (I.e. health, education, political power, income, wealth, social participation, etc.


Within a decade, Jim Crow had been dismantled. positive feedbacksWhy did so “little” change in attitudes inequality and social relations result?

  • On the one hand, the dismantling of Jim Crow is not “little.” Some people even argue that the playing field is level today (a position that Feagin and the text both contest).

  • On the other hand, many structures of inequality and segregation have remained, and have even grown over the past 20 years.


Theory 1 deeply rooted sentiments
Theory #1: Deeply rooted sentiments positive feedbacks

  • Some people suggest that attitudes about race are socialized early and resistant to change.

  • But many attitudes appeared to change quite rapidly

  • The army

  • Bennington

  • “Remember the Titans”


Theory 2 the new racism
Theory #2: The new racism positive feedbacks

  • Some people suggest that public acceptability merely made racism take the form of cultural stereotypes rather than genetic theories:

    • “symbolic racism” using code terms of “crime in the streets,” “welfare,” or “political correctness”

    • “sense of group position:” that whites merely shifted to whatever policies were most likely to maintain their advantages.

    • “laissez faire racism:” that the positions most likely to maintain white advantage were individualism and limitation of government policy


Theory 3 countervailing forces
Theory #3: countervailing forces positive feedbacks

  • An unstable system can amplify either an increase or decrease of either racial inequality or racial prejudice.

  • Civil rights instituted a beneficent cycle

  • Deindustrialization, globalization, and government cutbacks instituted a vicious cycle.

  • Which increased inequality in the black community and cancelled each other out.


Theory 4 backlash
Theory #4: Backlash positive feedbacks

  • The erosion of privileges (or perceived, relative privilege)of some whites produced counter-movements and counter-policies,

  • and the majority of whites were not willing to take sides.


My own personal view
My own personal view positive feedbacks

  • I (Peter Knapp) have argued that there are evidently countervailing pressures

    • Both forces are demonstrable,

    • And inequality in the black community has increased.

    • See the Symposium in Contemporary Sociology (26:314-7; 1997)

  • but that sociology often has difficulty estimating how large are the effects of such countervailing feedbacks,

  • and that is one of the reasons for developing more systemic theories.


The continued decline of prejudiced attitudes in the us
The continued decline of prejudiced attitudes in the US: positive feedbacks

RAC PRES: % say they would vote for a candidate of the other race, if their party nominated him.

Intermar: % oppose laws against the marriage of blacks and whites.


The lack of trend on policy
The lack of trend on policy positive feedbacks

B LACK $: % believe that the government is doing too little to improve the life chances of blacks.

HELP BLACK: % strongly agree that the government should help blacks overcome the effects of past discrimination.


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