When Do Welfare Attitudes Become Racialized? The Paradoxical Effects of Education

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Abstract

Recent research suggests that welfare attitudes may be shaped by negative perceptions of blacks, suggesting an implicit racialization of the policy. But what might inhibit the racialization of welfare? In this vein, research indicating that education facilitates tolerance suggests that negative racial perceptions and welfare attitudes may be less related among the educated. However, education may also be associated with a greater ability to connect general predispositions with specific policy attitudes. Somewhat paradoxically, this suggests that the association between racial perceptions and welfare attitudes may be stronger among the college-educated, despite their lower overall levels of racial hostility. Study 1 shows that education attenuates negative racial perceptions, while strengthening their impact on public-assistance attitudes - but only when assistance is described as "welfare." Study 2 extends and qualifies this finding, showing that education strengthens the relationship between perceptions of welfare recipients and global welfare attitudes only when recipients are black.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)374-391
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Volume48
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2004

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