Proposal for the 2016 Pilot Study: White Racial Consciousness in the U.S.

Two decades of mass immigration to the U.S., the election of America’s first black president, and the nation’s growing non-white population have dramatically changed the political and social landscape. In response, public discourse in the U.S. seems to have increasingly reflected a particular set of concerns about the nation’s racial dynamics, paying mounting attention to the prospect that across the country’s social and political institutions, the dominance of whites, as a racial group, seems to be in jeopardy. There is growing evidence that in response to this threat, whites are increasingly identifying with their racial group, and this group attachment has important political consequences. I argue that social scientists need to go beyond measuring racial identity among whites; they need to consider white group consciousness. In support of this proposal, I present a rationale for examining group consciousness, propose a three-item question battery that measures the different dimensions of this construct reliably, and provide results from a pilot study, which show that 1) substantial portions of white Americans possess a racial group consciousness; 2) that group consciousness is distinct from traditional measures of racial animus; and 3) even after controlling for racial resentment, white group consciousness powerfully predicts key political evaluations in expected and distinct ways.

Read the full proposal