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Research in Progress

Scholars of racial and ethnic politics have largely overlooked an important race-related disposition that strongly impacts salient policy preferences: racialized paternalism. This is a consequential and common disposition; rooted in a desire to improve outcomes for an out-group and a belief that the out-group is incapable of improving their own outcomes without interference. Importantly, I argue that this attitude is not motivated by animus. This leads these paternalists to endorse restrictive—albeit well-intentioned—policies imposed upon the out group, which they hope will help the group overcome deficiencies. With data from the AmericanNational Elections Studies (ANES) and a pre-registered national survey, I assess the impact of this novel construct with a suitable proxy and a measure that I have developed, which I call Black Paternalism. I demonstrate that this disposition is associated with higher support for policies that are racialized and paternalistic, but not for policies that are merely racialized. Further with a survey experiment on state takeovers of local school boards, I demonstrate that racialized paternalism motivates significantly higher support for this policy when applied to a Black as opposed to a White school board.

Measuring Dehumanization in Cable News Coverage

A growing literature in the social sciences explores the role of dehumanization in driving racial attitudes in the U.S. This work in political science and psychology has found strong evidence that a consequential portion of Whites in the U.S. don’t believe in the full humanity of stigmatized racial groups, both implicitly and explicitly, and that this disposition impacts political attitudes and behavior (Goff, Eberhardt, Williams, Jackson, & Matthew, 2008; Goff, Jackson, Lewis De Leone, Culotte, & Ditomaso, 2014; Kteily, Brunneau, Cotteril & Waytz, 2015; Jardina & Piston, 2016). But where does this disposition come from? A large literature demonstrates that racial bias can be found in media coverage, and that this bias can be consequential for political attitudes. I argue that the media engages in the systematic dehumanization of key stigmatized groups. Taking advantage of a large dataset featuring hundreds of thousands of cable news transcripts, I use automated text analysis to measure the degree to which stigmatized out-groups are discussed with dehumanizing language. 

When Protests Become Violent: The Racialization of News Media Coverage of Protest Activity (with Lagina Gause and Mara Ostfeld)

American news media is more likely to depict African-Americans in stigmatized roles (e.g. as criminal suspects, poor, and drug addicts) than White Americans, but does this tendency also exist in how media cover African-Americans engaged in protest activity? In this paper, we draw on an extensive content analysis of cable and broadcast news media coverage of protest activities to demonstrate substantial divergences in how protests are covered, depending on the race and objective of the protesters. We build on this evidence by employing a survey experiment to explore how these different patterns of protest coverage affect levels of interest in political participation. Our results emphasize the powerful role that news media coverage plays in encouraging or discouraging people to participate in American democracy.

Contextual Priming: Race, Church Polling Places, and Georgia’s Constitutional Amendment 1 (with Todd Shaw and Kasim Ortiz)

We will examine whether voting in a church polling place heightens voter support for same sex marriage/civil union bans. Political contexts often may “socially prime” or provide political clues to voters (Bargh, 2006; Berger, Meredith, & Wheeler, 2008; Berger, Meredith, & Wheeler, 2006; Blumenthal & Turnipseed, 2011; Pryor, Mendez, & Herrick, 2011). Due to their high religiosity and strong attachments to churches, African Americans are frequently susceptible to church-based political cues (McDaniels 2008). In turn, the religious objections many black churches have to homosexuality might only reinforce any black voter opposition to same sex marriage (T. Shaw & McDaniel, 2007), especially if voting in church polling places. However, a countervailing contextual may be whether a precinct is located in a neighborhood with higher percentages of same sex households. We examine the 2004 general election, precinct-level results of Atlanta, Georgia when Georgia’s Constitutional Amendment 1, which banned same-sex marriage, was on the ballot. We will examine if there is any significant differences in the results from church versus non-church polling places; and find limited support for the priming effects of the black church polling context.  

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