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Communication and Beliefs about Racial Equality

Authors
Journal
Discourse & Society
0957-9265
Publisher
SAGE Publications
Publication Date
Disciplines
  • Communication

Abstract

In this paper, we examine the effects of location in the social structure and communication processes on whites' responses to societal change conceptions of equality (structural equality): one that entailed beliefs about abstract notions of equality and one that pertained to concrete reference-based (blacks') conception of inequality. A recent national survey provided the data to test eleven hypotheses derived from theorizing in the area of stratification beliefs. Using covariance analysis, all our predictions received at least partial support. We found that those less well placed in the social system were more likely to embrace institutional change solutions to inequality and that those who attend more to television news were more likely to embrace structural racial inequality. On the other hand, while both television news and newspaper exposure had a positive influence on interpersonal discussion, the relationships of this variable with one of the equality measures indicated that engaging in more interpersonal discussion lead to less of an endorsement of structural racial inequality. Finally, those who embraced the general conception of equality were less likely to endorse race-specific structural inequality. We outlined some implications of our findings for social policy with some suggestions for further research.

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