White racism, social class, and the backlash against affirmative action

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6 Scopus citations


Among scholars in sociology and history, the backlash against affirmative action has been blamed on White working-class Americans. What has received far less attention is the individual and collective institutional role(s) played by the White middle and upper middle-class in backlash politics. Given that individuals in these social classes have far greater institutional power than White working-class Americans, their beliefs and practices deserve sustained critical attention, and, as the few existing research studies demonstrate, White middle-class and upper middle-class Americans have played an influential role in backlash politics. Part of the reason for this gap in the literature is that these groups are more difficult to access as research subjects. Gaining access to this population may require working through many levels of a bureaucratic organization designed to protect their time and privacy. Moreover, when interviewed, these Americans are more likely than their working-class counterparts to mask racist sentiments through the polite language of "color blindness." Research methods that complement surveys and in-depth interviews are recommended as strategies for probing White middle and upper middle-class Americans' deeply hidden beliefs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)914-926
Number of pages13
JournalSociology Compass
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013


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