Education leads to racial liberalism in a great many instances. In this piece, I show that better educated whites are more racially liberal than less educated whites on issues involving minority preferences, with one notable exception. Better educated whites are significantly more opposed to affirmative action in university admissions than less educated whites. This is a puzzle, and my resolution of it is informed by group conflict theory and how university preferences evoke the group interests of better educated whites as they approach the issue. Additionally, I show that the group interests of less educated whites also are engaged by the issue. In the context of the survey I study, the class orientations of the less educated are roused, and, I argue, lower status individuals are encouraged to view university preferences as an opportunity to “share the burden” of affirmative action, contributing to the puzzling reversal in the relationship of education and racial-political attitudes.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 3, 2004
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